The definitive guide to airport and airplane etiquette

sleepinginairport.jpgIt’s been a while since I compiled a lengthy list of my opinions and pet peeves and given them an authoritative title so as to pass them off as travel gospel that panicky newspaper researchers can quote in last second filler stories. (Goddamn I love the internet!)

Plus, I just flew from Minneapolis to San Francisco and I’m always on edge for days after I fly through US airports, so I’d like to do a little healthy venting here. After all, changing the world for the better isn’t going to happen by itself, so here’s my contribution:

• Just because you have eight hours before your flight leaves, doesn’t mean that I have eight hours before my flight leaves so get the f*ck out of my way. And I’m truly sorry if age/disability has resulted in you not being able to walk very fast, but I’m not sorry enough about it to miss my plane, so please move to the right.

• The ‘stand’ and ‘walk’ lanes painted onto the moving walkways weren’t put there for yucks. For those of you who never caught on to that reading fad, you’re supposed to stand in the ‘stand’ lane and don’t stand in the ‘walk’ lane. I’m all for breaking the rules sometimes – except for this one.

• Why do some people still act surprised when they step up to the x-ray machine and suddenly realize that they have to remove 12 pounds of metal and electronics from their person while 295 people pile up behind them? Here’s a secret that I, not always the sharpest guy in the world, figured out after my very first time in the security line: instead of talking on your cell phone or reading a magazine, use the time you spend in line dumping all your change, gadgets and jewelry into your jacket or carry-on pockets. That way you only have one consolidated item to drop in and pick up out of the plastic bucket on either side of the x-ray machine rather than individually fumbling your cell phone, PDA, bracelets, necklaces, medallions, $11.47 in loose change, Yosemite Sam belt buckle…

• $2.75 for a 20 ounce bottle of water??? Are you f*cking shitting me SFO???

• If you have a toddler that has a scream that can explode a human eyeball and can’t go more than 45 seconds without throwing a tantrum, drive.

• Unless you’ve been stranded at the airport overnight by a criminally negligent airline that rhymes with ‘Porthwest’ or ‘Pelta’, don’t lie down over four seats by the gate when 148 other passengers want to sit down too.

• Standing and contemplating which direction you need to go is not acceptable behavior at the top of a busy escalator.

• Attention TSA jackholes: if you’re going to insist that we all take off our shoes to walk through security, don’t get testy when it takes us an extra second to collect ourselves and move away from the other side of the x-ray machine. Since some of you guys are too big to even tie your shoes, I’d hope you’d be more understanding.

• When the gate agent announces that Group 1 can board the plane, that is not secret code for Groups 2-6 to rush the gate and block the way, so boarding takes twice as long.

• During the boarding process, the aisle of the plane is not the place to have casual conversations or re-pack your carry-on bag.

• If you have the bladder capacity of a frightened toad, sit on the aisle.

• Why do people that only fly once every five years think the in-flight world revolves around them? That you have pooled together the funds to fly yourself to a nice little vacation in Orlando does not mean you’re some kind of monarch. People fly every day and it’s really only one step up from taking the bus, so please do not conduct yourself on the plane as if you’re some kind of VIP on his way to a UN summit and lunch with the Queen.

• Unless you’re having a gastrointestinal emergency, seven minutes is the maximum you should spend in the lavatory in one go.

• If you’re traveling with children, although I know how badly you want to dull the pain, please try to keep it to down to one bottle of wine.

• Looming over the luggage conveyor belt and taking up precious space with your cart and the three friends that came to pick you up is not going to make your bag arrive any faster. Unless your bag is within arms reach, step back so I don’t have to bash your knee caps as I retrieve mine. Also, the conveyor belt is not an acceptable place for your small child to play.

• While the seatback in front of you is there to prop up your tray table and house your personal TV, that doesn’t mean you own it. In fact the person using it to support their back owns it. As such, avoid using it as a pull-up bar and third leg when getting out of your seat, particularly on long haul flights when the person in that seat is very likely trying to sleep. Use your own bloody seat back. I mean, it’s right there. Theoretical physicists have long contemplated a parallel universe that they’ve tentatively named the “Shit That’s Behind You World”. This is a wacky, dynamic place where, if one were so inclined, one could take advantage of resources that aren’t directly in front of their faces. Sadly, Shit That’s Behind You World often goes unnoticed by a large subset of human beings without control over a critical piece of their anatomy called the “Fontal Lobe” which is why, without fail, some jackass violently shakes my seatback every time I manage to fall asleep over the Atlantic. Equally, although you own your seatback, you may not hang your jacket on the back of it as that puts it right in someone else’s lap and therefore becomes fair game to be used as that person’s napkin.

• I’m gonna go out on an unpopular limb and join the crowd that believes that morbidly obese people should have to purchase two seats. I’ve been victim to several, wobbling, sweating, malodorous neighbors on long haul flights whose body mass encroached on 50% of the space that I’ve rented. It ain’t pleasant. And I realize that having been an enviably svelte hunk of burning sex appeal all my life has resulted in a bit of unfair prejudice on my part, but I’m of the opinion that to get that huge requires a dedicated lifestyle choice, like smoking and chewing with your mouth opened. Anyone so big that 30-40 pounds of their mass overflows into their neighbor’s seat has worked very knowingly and diligently to become that way and therefore shouldn’t be treated as if their condition is the result of some freak, unavoidable accident, like a spinal cord injury. When the consequences of your lifestyle choice starts to drastically impact those around you, I’m sorry, you’ll get no sympathy from me. Do heroin addicts get special in-flight treatment for their condition? Of course not. On a side note, the US needs to stop handing out disabled car tags to people too obese to walk an extra 20 yards to the store from a normal parking space. For one, genuinely disabled people need those parking spaces. Also, giving those disabled tags to obese people is just a perpetuating, enabling act that results in them getting even less exercise and therefore more huge and eventually diabetic! Make them walk the extra 20 yards! It might add years to their lives and save untold stress on our healthcare system!

The *%#$ing end.