Dear Fellow Islander: The very nature of living on an island means that we all look forward to our jaunts ‘off-island’ – and this means that we spend more than our fair share of time with layovers in one airport or another.
Walking through MIA recently, I felt compelled to compile a list of ‘helpful tips’ to get us all safely on our way. And by ‘helpful tips,’ I might mean a list of ‘pet peeves.’ And by ‘safely,’ I really still mean ‘pet peeves,’ but I’m trying to sound congenial.
I’m a middle seater after all. (see: www.confessionsofamiddleseater.com) So please, read on for my “Top 20 Travel Tips” to make all of our off-the-rock travel experiences a little more enjoyable.
The Concourse Shuffle: Please don’t wander and weave through the concourse like it is your own personal Sunday afternoon shopping trip. The airport does not run on island time. Everyone in there is, literally, trying to catch a plane. Everyone. I understand you might be killing time, looking for your next gate, or be glued to your phone for information vital to your trip such as the next Kardashian update. Do what you have to, but if you’re doing it in the middle of the concourse thoroughfare, then please do it at a reasonable speed, in a straight trajectory, and with eyes up. Otherwise, please shuffle and weave yourself to an appropriate Kardashian-surfing space. #whydidyoustoprightinfrontofme #idontstopforKardashians
Yes, your designer bag cost you only slightly less than a first class trip on Emirates, and so I understand that you may feel a slightly perverse need to care for your Kors and protect it the way you would a small animal. But here’s the thing: your bag doesn’t care if it sits at your feet on the floor like a beloved pet. You know who does care? That weary passenger that has been walking around a full departure lounge wanting for a free seat. Okay, me. Me! I care! I want to sit down! Please. Bags on the floor. #sitMichaelsit
And while we’re on the subject of boarding lounge etiquette… yes, sleeping on the floor in an airport is, apparently, acceptable. (Despite the whole dirty carpet thing… really, think about what is just centimeters from your nose. Sweet dreams). Sleeping on the floor in front of a row of seats however, effectively rendering them as inaccessible as the first class bathrooms are to the the economy cabin, is not. Maybe it’s your silent protest that the seats have arm rests and they can’t be turned into your own personal bunk bed. Take that up with the airport engineers, not the people who simply want to sit down. #40winksclubmeetsbythewall
Please don’t wait until you are standing in front of the Starbucks cashier to peruse the menu and decide what you would like to drink. I realize most of us islanders may not have seen a Starbucks in a long time, but decide before you get in line. Not to be a broken record on this point, but everyone behind you is trying to catch a plane. Literally, everyone. #decidealready #itsjustcoffee
The gate agents are not responsible for the fact that the airline just cancelled your flight, nor the snowstorm that caused it. Speaking poorly to them as they try and rebook you and every other passenger on that plane does nothing to further your cause. I’m quite confident they would like nothing better than to have your angry face out of theirs, so they have no incentive to make your stay at their airport any longer than it needs to be. Let them do their job and get you on your way, with no time-outs for bad behavior. #donttravelthroughchicagointhewinter
And while we’re on the subject of staffing… generally speaking, TSA agents are not the devil’s spawn. Okay, yes, there was that one guy at that one airport that might have been a close cousin. But, mostly, they are human beings just doing their jobs trying to keep us all safe. And I’m guessing they don’t want to waste their time searching your bag for the bottle of water you forgot to take out, any more than you want to waste yours remembering to read the 3-1-1 rule. #tsaarepeopletoo #yeseventheonesthattaketheirjobsveryseriously #keepingussafe
Checked luggage fees are prohibitive and annoying. Let’s be honest, at this point your domestic airfare is pretty much just a cover charge to get into the magic flying carpet club in the sky, including one free non-alcoholic beverage. Want to sit down? Bring a bag of belongings? Eat or drink? That’s gonna cost you (payment accepted by credit card only). Here’s how that translates in to a ‘traveling tip/pet peeve’: I get that you want to hover around the boarding area to be first in your group to be able to stow that carry on bag that is packed within in an inch of its zipper’s life. But I sometimes have to invoke my best Moses impersonation to part the sea of travelers to get through to my boarding gate. Hover if you must, but at least be courteous to the people whose group number has been called before you by stepping aside as they try to board. Or, pony up the $25 next time and check the bag. #move! #checkandrelax
Sure, the flight attendants are following company mandated protocol by greeting you as you board. They probably don’t really have a burning desire to stand and greet all 137 of you personally… I’m sure their subtext is something like “‘Hello! Welcome aboard! Oh God, just 94 of you left to go...” “Hi, Good Morning! That bag is never going to fit. Why did you not just gate check it when we suggested it.” “Hello! How are you! You look like the guy that’s going to hold up the boarding process by standing the aisle for 3 minutes while you put your sh** away… don’t make me come back there….” And that might be the PG version. Still, it doesn’t hurt to return the courtesy like a human being and say hello back, just like we islanders do basically everywhere else we go. #beahumanbeing
On that note… The flight attendants aren’t your personal concierges and wait staff. Please treat them respectfully. #respect
If your carry on is too big for the overhead, no amount of smashing, pushing, or general aggressive stowing techniques will make it fit. Neither will the sighing, swearing, or engaging in an onslaught of general complaining about the size of the compartment, the baggage fees, and the airline in general. You might have chosen not to check your bag, but you can still check your attitude. #gatecheck #yourbagoryourattitude
We have all flown at some point ‘under the weather.’ It’s not your fault you’re sick and I don’t expect you to cancel your travel plans because of it. I do, however, expect you to cover your mouth when you cough, turn your head away from me, and use a Kleenex. #tissuesarecheap #mannersarefree
Please don’t look at me like a germaphobe freak when I pull out my alcohol Lysol wipes and wipe down the tray table. And the seatbelt buckle. And the window shield, the arm rests, the little panel to control the audio, the edge of the seat back pocket and the air vent controls, the head rest, the little knob to open the tray table, and then the seat belt buckle again and the arm rest once more, possibly twice… just to be sure. I have no defense for this. Just thank me for making your plane travel just a little more sanitary. You’re welcome. #mightbeagermaphobefreak
I’m not a parent, but this much I know: babies cry. You were one once and you know you did. Unless and until you can afford to charter your own private jet, please don’t chastise mothers and fathers for crying babies. You might be irritated by it, but the parents themselves are irritated by the children, irritated by your irritation, and irritated at the stress of feeling irritated. Find the human in you to be a little patient with our little people and their parents. #littletravelersarehumanstoo #parentsjustwanttogetthere
Continuing a theme… (I’m still not a parent – much to my mother’s chagrin and a conversation for a different blog)… I know kids will be kids, but please, if your children are repeatedly kicking my seat then take matters into your own hands – before I take them in to mine. (nb: since I’m a middle seater, that really just means I’ll sit and quietly steam about it, and then put it into a blog article, passive aggressive style. Just sayin’). #yesthatsyouseat14ClastweekfromDFWtoMIA
The flight attendants have, as just one of their duties, about 150 or more other passengers to offer a beverage to in a very finite amount of time. Don’t look surprised when they show up at your row and ask what you would like to drink. It was part of your cover charge and happens pretty much EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT. Similarly, don’t then ask them to run down a list of what they have in the cart. This isn’t a trendy Brooklyn mixology bar. It’s not a flying nightclub. It’s an airplane. Something somewhere in the seat pocket tells you what’s on the cart. Bonus: if you’re on a flight after me, it will be wiped down and very sanitary. #menuinthemagazine
It’s not the flight attendants’ fault they had to suspend beverage service because of turbulence. It’s not the pilots either. Take it up with your designated deity. #deargodwhenwilthisturbulenceend
I once walked off of a plane past a seat that was covered in food packaging litter and a various assortment of crumbs and food items. I don’t mean one little cracker wrapper. Peanut and cookies boxes and their contents were left strewn all over the seat and floor. And before you leap to judge a parent for not chastising their child for this, the person exiting this row was well over 18. (Note: I didn’t say adult or grown up because, based on behavior, the offender was clearly neither). Maybe you don’t have to take the tact of disinfecting your seated station, but do have the courtesy and general social skills to clean up after yourself. #seriously #cleanupbeforeyougetup #howoldareyou
Disembarking the plane is not AP math. You rise and get ready. When the row in front of you moves, you then move. Pushing ahead of someone trying to get out of their row might save you 20 seconds in the disembarking process, but you look kinda like a jerk. Just sayin’. Maybe its worth it to you, I don’t know. #doyouwanttobeajerk?
Take a moment to marvel at the logistical wonder that is an airport. Thousands of people travel through it daily from all over the world, safely, generally on time, and (most) arrive with their baggage. Thousands of man hours of planning go into making it all so. Sometimes hiccups happen. But if you just travelled thousands of miles in a short period of time from some tiny island, and arrived safely, the hiccups were probably pretty insignificant in the big picture of life. #ihappentoreallyloveairports #noreally #imnotbeingsarcastic #moderndaymarvel
The miracle of relatively economical, modern day jet travel should be enough to get us through any airport with the wonder of flying and enjoyment of traveling in tact. Enough said. #flyingreallyisawesome #dontforgettomarvel
How often do you travel off your island? What are your top air travel pet peeves?