Excuse me while I crawl up on this soapbox for a second, y’all.
‘Cause I’m about to preach.
We’re all amateur jet-setters these days. We’re all benefiting from the super-sized travel industry and the luxuries (and humiliations) it affords. But let’s use our heads and exercise a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, shall we?
If you’re dropping off a friend at check-in, have a little courtesy. Don’t stop your car in the middle of the byway; you’re not more important than me. And say your goodbyes during that interminable trip to the airport, not while Juliet is leaning in the window to hear the last of your sweet nothings. If you’re traveling, just be prepared. You know what you’re going to need to check-in. Dig out that credit card and driver’s license while you’re in line. And for God’s sake, stop inching up and kicking the back of my suitcase. Tailgating is no more acceptable in airport lines than it is on the freeway. We are not cattle. At least, I’m not. I’m a lovely human being and I need my space.
If you haven’t gotten this routine down by now, I will not forgive you. If you don’t travel much, look it up beforehand. The TSA has a blog and a Pinterest page, for heaven’s sake. You should know how this system works before you show up. Yokels, leave your loaded weapon at home, or leave your unloaded weapon in your suitcase. Seriously. We’re still forgetting that our Midnight Specials are tucked away in our pocketbooks? You can’t be that stupid. I refuse to believe it.
The indignity of the strip-down is inevitable. Stop complaining, and stop pretending like it’s some big surprise that you have to remove your shoes and belt. There were at least 15 signs and an audio recording during the 30 minutes I spent trying not to scream at you for breathing down my neck. You were so anxious to get to the front of the line, I thought for sure you knew the rules of the rodeo. Insider’s tip: smile at the TSA agent. Yes, you hate him. So does everyone else. Would you take his job for a single day? Hell no. Have a little empathy, or at least pretend to.
Alright. Here’s a rather difficult concept for most people: Walk right, pass left, and recognize that people are both behind you and coming from the other direction. Some of them are late and will be running, so get the hell out of the way. As hard as even the most experienced road-warriors try to have plenty of time, sometimes a flight delay leaves you with a sliver of a layover, and once those jetway doors close, you’re screwed. So move over, because someone else really needs to use the fast lane, alright? General rule of thumb: if there’s nobody in front of you and somebody behind you, move to the right.
Don’t block the box. Seriously. Your hovering when they call for Business Class isn’t going to make them call Group F any faster. Once you’re down the jetway (not a race, people; they’re not rolling back any time soon), remember that the Flight Attendant is trying to do her job and get drinks for the 1st-Class morons who forked over $60 for an upgrade. Let her distribute her gin and tonics. She’ll remember how nice you are, trust me. Also: you hear that announcement: “please find your seat and step out of the aisle”? That means you. If you can’t hoist your bag above your head, you better have your flirtatious smile ready and have already sized up a potential mark to help you, because it’s not the Flight Attendant’s job to handle your baggage. Then try letting a few people pass you before you mess around with the overhead bins.
You’re not more important than anyone else on this metal tube with wings. But there are people onboard who are more important than you. They’re called Flight Attendants, and you need to listen to them. They are not your babysitters. They are not your mother. They are not your servants. They’re professionals. So take out your headphones when you speak with them. Say “Thank You”. Turn off your phone and your iAccessories without rolling your eyes. (Do you think your F/A makes these rules?) For the love of all that is holy, keep your seatbelt buckled during taxi and take-off. Because it is the law.
Now, as for your fellow chattel, remember the Golden Rule. I paid $250 for this 5 square feet of space, and I do not recall inviting you into it. Get your elbows, your pillow, your carry-on, and your child out of my rented real estate. And when I do not make eye-contact with you, it doesn’t mean I’m shy. It means I want to pretend that you do not exist and that I’m not where I am. So don’t talk to me. Not unless you are very, very, very handsome. And single, too.
The seatbelt sign dings off, and everyone rushes the aisle. Pavlov would be so proud of you. Do me a favor and resist the tendency to cram yourself into the aisle. There isn’t any room for you, much less for your over-stuffed bag. I promise you, they will let you off the plane. There is no prize for first place.
If you STILL think you’re more important than everyone else, buy yourself a Global Entry pass and bypass the customs line. Otherwise, keep your voice down and do not tailgate me. I’m serious about this. Don’t kick me. It will not make the line go faster. Also: see that sign that says, “No Cell Phone Use”. This means you. Yes. You. Put the cell phone away. You’re still in international territory, which means the U.S. rights and freedoms do not apply to you. I don’t know why they don’t want us to use our cell phones here, but I’m not a specialist in international security, either. So put it away. I mean it. One wait in the customs line and you’ll understand why everyone out there hates Americans. We’re ridiculous. So please keep your ridiculousness to yourself. I don’t want any of it to rub off on me.
It’s not hard to travel respectfully. Please, please try your best to do so. I wish you many happy travels. Just don’t expect to talk to me about them while I’m sitting next to you.