Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bear With Me - I Used To Love To Fly

I spent the last five days in New York at BlogHer, and I'm still exhausted - which really means that I'm slightly crabby, so it's possible that might come through in this post. And when I admit to being slightly crabby, well... let your imagination go from there. Apparently sleep and I are better friends than I thought, and I miss my buddy!

I used to have a job where I flew weekly. I was always on the road traveling, and it was actually sort of fun. A (reimbursed) car would drop me off and pick me up, and I had status on an airline so I could use the "special people line" - as some of my friends called it - and get through security extremely quickly. I mastered the art of showing up at the gate as the plane was beginning to board and just breezing on.

It wasn't a bad life. But times have changed, and I fly only a few times a year now - not that I'm complaining. I have flown enough though that I have a few pet peeves about other travelers. On my way to and from New York, I witnessed many of them, and I just have to share them to regain some of my zen.

My Top Ten Pet Peeves About Flying

10) Smelly food With the cuts in airline service and the need to arrive at the airport so early now, I completely understand the need to eat during travels. My issue comes when you bring your greasy, smelly food into the airplane where the recirculated air causes everyone to smell it for way too long. If you are going to eat food that has a strong smell, do it before you get on the plane. If you need to eat while flying, bring something that won't bother everyone around you. Plenty of outlets sell sandwiches or salads or bagels that have no scent. Or be like me and bring your own food from home - cheaper and no worries about smelling up the cabin.

9) Loud music Small quarters, remember? I don't need to know that you're listening to the latest OutKast single or that you're really into Peter, Paul, and Mary. When you have an iPod or DVD turned up loud enough that I can understand the lyrics, it's too loud. Be respectful of the shared space, and keep it at a reasonable volume. I promise I'll do the same with my Indigo Girls and INXS and Pat McCurdy.

8) Putting up the armrest This one sort of creeps me out, actually. We're strangers sharing a small space. I'm taking advantage of any and all barriers between us to avoid becoming too close. The armrest between seats is there for just that reason. When you sit down and attempt to raise the armrest? Ewww. And no, I'm not going to let it happen.

7) Not knowing how to get through security I know there are lots of rules. Nothing more than 3(.4) ounces, all liquids have to be in your quart bag and removed from your suitcase. Shoes have to come off. Laptops need to be screened separately. You can't wear any jackets or other outer clothing. While this is a lot to remember if you don't do it regularly, the fact that the TSA employees are repeating this constantly should make it not too difficult a process. But the people who try to walk through without taking off their shoes? Or the ones who have to go back and unpack their bags to remove the illegal items after they've gone through security and hold up the lines? Or figure out only as it's their turn to go through security that no, you can't push the baby in the stroller through the scanner? Hold me.

6) Personal grooming is not for public places Yes, this actually happens. On my flight to New York, I could hear someone clipping nails ... of some sort. Even if, by some miracle, you have a receptacle to put them in, I don't want to see or hear you clipping your nails on the plane (or at work - but that's a different complaint). It's gross. And wrong. And please wait until you're in a private place like ohhhhh maybe your bathroom.

5) Not knowing where your seat is (sitting in C instead of A) Planes have these nifty things above each seat that show which seat is where. It's also really easy to figure out that A starts on the right side of the plane as you're walking down the aisle and goes from there. If you have 8A, don't try to sit in the aisle seat. If you have 16E, really don't try to sit in the aisle. And if you truly can't figure it out and someone comes to sit in the seat you're in, don't get all huffy when someone wants to sit in their legitimate seat.

4) Crowding around the gate Airlines are trying to get planes loaded as quickly as possible to get out on time. If they don't get the doors closed in time, they lose their spot in line, and the flight is delayed while they try to get reshuffled in the takeoff order - just like when you're 20 minutes late to your doctor's appointment! That being said, they know how to be efficient, thus the boarding groupings. If you are in group 5 and the plane is boarding only the premier people, there is no need to block the gate area and crowd around everything. They aren't going to give away your seat, and you aren't going to miss the plane. Let the people board who are currently being called. And if you're in Group 5, don't try to board with Group 2. You'll still get on the plane and arrive in one piece. Just be patient - the plane will board faster if you let people actually get on the plane.

3) Shoes off on the walls A plane is a public place (ummm, did I mention this already?), and lots of people are right there. Leave your shoes on. Trust me, your feet stink. And not only that, I don't want to see them, especially not if you're putting them up on the wall of the plane. That's gross. And just flat out wrong. It makes me gag just thinking about it. Please leave your shoes on. And if you really have to take them off, hide your feet under your seat so I don't know it's your feet that I'm smelling.

2) Pushing to get off the plane Much like the grand rush to get on the plane, I sometimes see a huge rush to get off. If you're in the back of the plane, you need to wait your turn. The flight attendants can only open the doors so fast, and everyone in the rows ahead of you should be getting off the plane first. The only exception to this is if there is a tight connection and the attendants have asked that you let those people connecting get off first. In that case, let those people out and just sit tight for an extra minute or two. It'll all be good, I promise. But pushing ahead to get off the plane first just because you want to get off the plane? Not cool.

1) Using the back of the seat to get up I totally get that the legroom on planes is small and makes it somewhat difficult to maneuver in the planes. On the other hand, those seats that recline oh-so-nicely are pretty sensitive to people touching them. When you stand up, don't use my seat back to hoist you up or help you move across the row. When you're walking in the plane, don't hold onto every seat as you go by. When you do that, it shakes the seat and is rather uncomfortable for the person sitting in it. And if you accidentally do? Have the courtesy to apologize to the person you just shook. A much better solution? Use those armrests that you didn't put up to support you as you stand and make your way.

Oh I feel so much better now. Thanks for listening. What are your traveling pet peeves?


Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog August 10, 2010 at 8:15 PM  

The pushing people are my pet peeve, too. Also, when people are rude to parents of young children, the disabled or elderly. I mean, really? You can't be courteous to the person who needs a little help? Really? That's fine. God's totally got you on his watch list now...

(FYI, I don't think God really cares. But it's a good threat, dontcha think?)

Tara R. August 10, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

I rarely fly, but this list is exactly why I avoid it when possible. Spending that much time, in such close quarters, with so many people is not an attractive travel option for me. I have personal space issues.

Pat August 10, 2010 at 10:13 PM  

I also rarely fly. I think the last time was in April 2007 to go to my daughter-in-law-to-be's bridal shower and to meet my first grandchild. I guess the thing I dislike the most about flying is the long lines and the cramped quarters.

I guess that guy on the news today (the flight attendant who had a meltdown) just couldn't take it any more. I know it (what he did) was really bad and he should lose his job, but still I thought it was pretty funny. That passenger should get in some trouble, too. Just my opinion.

Alexis AKA MOM August 10, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

I'm not much of a flier something about tight spaces and people in my bubble ... lol :)

Lucy August 10, 2010 at 11:20 PM  

Crowding around the gate cracks me up. I mean, what's the rush? You have a ticket, you have a specific time to get on, just sit tight and wait your turn!!! People are stupid.

Megryansmom August 11, 2010 at 8:53 AM  

I don't fly much, but when I do I have anxiety just trying to follow all the security rules so as not to slow down the line. I try so hard and dangit if I didn't forget to take a quarter out of my pocket and the stupid alarm goes off. I try, really I try.

Love Tracey's comment about being on God's watch list. I'm totally going to use it next time we drive into Chicago and people are honking at me LOL

Lisa August 11, 2010 at 9:15 AM  

oh I'm totally a shoe taker off-er but I'm usually wearing flip flops anyway, if I'm wearing tennis shoes, I'm too worried about smell. but the touching the backs of seats, I HATE when people come back from the bathroom and bash every single seat, ON BOTH SIDES!! Seriously? What is that about???

Donald August 11, 2010 at 3:40 PM  

My last flight featured a seat mate who put the armrest up, took her shoes off and sat cross legged on her seat (yes, a bare foot was touching me) and she brought her own food on board... mmmm curry! Please don't make any assumptions on the seat mates race... she was white.

septembermom August 12, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

I very rarely fly. My ears don't do well when I fly. I find it irritating when someone talks especially loud. We all don't need to hear every joke or wisecrack. It is close quarters!

Michelle August 12, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

Tracey - Very good point. The rudeness makes me very sad. I know people are impatient to get where they're going, but how does this help?

Tara - Well, yes... personal space issues describes some of it very well :)

Pat - Yep, I think those long lines and cramped quarters got to more than one person on that Jet Blue flight. So sad all around when you think long term about it.

Alexis - And some of us have bubbles bigger than others, huh?

Lucy - Amen. Need I say more?

Megryansmom - Forgetting the quarter I'm totally fine with. It's the 50 pound belt with the 3 necklaces and 2 watches and oh yeah... the Swiss Army knife.

Lisa - No idea. I actually asked someone to STOP pulling on my seat while he was waiting to move down the aisle this week. He just looked at me blankly. I finally gently removed his hand from the back of my seat. *sigh*

Don - Oh, I'd make no assumptions about race, other than the "logical" assumption is likely to be wrong since there are SOME cultures that still prize civility.

Kelly - Ahhh, I forgot that one, didn't I? Yep, the loud talking goes along with the loud music....

Melisa with one S August 20, 2010 at 7:05 AM  

Of course, mine are the same as yours! haha

Michelle October 1, 2010 at 8:12 PM  

Melisa - Shocking. That is truly shocking ;) So nice to fly with you!

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