Airport Diaries #3: Rules of Engagement – Part 1

Airplane diaries

Airplane diariesOk, it is that time again. Time to pack the bags and prepare for another exhilarating journey to an exotic location. Well, in all honesty, it’s another business trip.  So, take the exotic out of the equation. Many flights I take these days do happen to be of an international flavor but mostly they consist of getting on a plane, traveling long hours on said plane, extended times in cramped cars with questionable drivers, and finally rushing to get back on a plane. Between these moments, there are business meetings, smiling, late night dinners, and wishing I was back in the hotel getting a little rest from the jet lag. However, while that may be exotic to some, for me, it is more of a routine of step one, then step two, and so on.

When getting ready to depart on one of these engaging affairs, the best strategy is to scan the crowd of those waiting to board the flight. It is a mental game of who- would- you –wish- gets- the- seat- next- to- you and which ones you hope are furthest from your seat. Will it be the guy with the nervous shakes and cold sweats as if this is his first trip? Maybe it will be the couple whose giggles indicate they will spend at least some portion of the flight striving for their “mile high club” membership. Whoever it is, please please don’t let it be the family of six with the kids running around the seats smacking each other and screeching . Oh, the game of “please don’t be the person next to me,” can be quite amusing, if a little precarious, while waiting for a flight. For that matter, I don’t want most of these people to be in the row in front, behind, across the aisles, or anywhere within three rows of me.

As we board the airtight flying cylinder, let me warn you of a few little rules – well maybe more like suggestions- I take quite seriously. I would print them off and hand them out to the masses waiting to join me on my flight, but the last time I attempted this little public service, the nice TSA agent had a conversation with me. Therefore, I am submitting this little list of flying etiquette for your review. Consider yourself served.

  1. The first rule, umm suggestion, would have to be: Don’t wear a bottle of cologne, perfume, baby oil, or any other fragrant application. Keep in mind an airplane is a self-contained, airtight, pressurized, flying vessel in which we will be locked in and sharing air for the next ten hours. A little over-zealousness with the fragrance and the entire plane full of passengers on board will smell just like you, and btw-you stink. Instead of putting on an extra dab, or handful, of your favorite olfactory enhancement to cover up the fact that you have not showered the entirety of your trip, do something novel…SHOWER.
  2. Be Prepared! You know you are getting ready to board a plane. Have your boarding pass ready, know your seat number, and get any of the essential belongings out of your bag in advance before you waste our time blocking the aisles as you look for you micro MP3 player which happens to be in the bottom of your hastily packed carry-on. The rest of us joining you on this plane would like to get going to our destination and rid ourselves of the presence of the other 300 souls traveling with us. Ok, I will admit if I was not locked in this tube with you, I probably still would not like you very much anyway.
  3. Speaking of carry-on luggage, the sign that shows the allowed carry-on size is not a suggestion, it is based on the fact that the engineers of the aircraft did not plan for passengers bringing a bag big enough to smuggle small children out of the country as well as your trombone. For the record, I have seen a full brass band try to get all their instruments into the overhead compartments. They were shocked when the last three members were asked to check their carry-on. Keep it simple, take only what you need, and check the rest people. We would like to have a place for our bags too.
  4. When we finally sit down, I should warn you of something quite important to the comfort of all parties involved. I really do not want to have a conversation with you. I do not want to know your name, where you are from, or where you are going. The flight is not a mixer to meet new friends. In fact, how about we just agree to coexist until the doors open upon landing. It is not personal, but actually practical. If we do not speak, then there won’t be that uncomfortable realization that we do not like each other and are stuck together for the next ten hours. See, very practical.
  5. One final note before the doors close, this is not your living room and the chair your ass will occupy for the remainder of the trip is not your lazy-boy. So, please refrain from spreading out as if you are the only person in this row. Last time I checked, I paid just as much as you to have for the microscopic space the airline chose to rent us. You stay in your seat and share the armrest, dammit!

At no point is flying confused with a wonderful event. It is a practical means to an end. While on the plane, set aside your selfish persona and think about the other passengers. As mentioned, a few things will help this horrible form of paid torture be a little more pleasant for the rest of us.

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2014


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