I have a love-hate relationship with flying. A lot of it has to do with physics (or my general lack of understanding of physics) but a lot of it has to do with you, my fellow passengers. Here’s why.
You know what a hassle it is to travel these days, I’m sure. I like to think I’m a pretty seasoned traveler but it still takes a lot out of me.
I hover over my keyboard exactly 24 hours before my flight to ensure I’m in the best boarding group because every flight is a FULL flight these days. I promptly remove my shoes, coat, purse, and laptop (in its own separate bin) and ease my way through security. I bring my own snacks on board because I know that peanuts and pretzels just aren’t going to cut it on a cross-country flight.
I’ve learned how to work the system and make the most out of travel day but even the most pleasant-minded of us gets a little irked once we sit down on that airplane.
And whether you’re a leisure traveler who travels every 7.2 years or a road warrior who feels anyone other than you on an airplane is an inferior traveler, I bet you can still learn a few things from this list of common sense rules for flying that my husband and I came up with while we were sitting on an airplane.
I promise all of these are based on real-life experiences.
The New Rules of Flying
1. Don’t bring more than you can carry.
I once saw a woman trying to make it through the security line with drinks, snacks, a stroller, a carseat, a diaper bag, a backpack, and carryon luggage. It was not pretty (and yes, I helped her). But seriously. Think about your organization before you head to the airport.
2. Shopping bags are not an acceptable substitute for luggage.
I know that when you pack up the car and drive to Myrtle Beach for the week, you’ll fill every nook and cranny of your minivan. Because, why not? But when you’re traveling on an airplane, it just doesn’t work. Duffle bags, tote bags, backpacks are all acceptable. Shopping bags are not (unless you’ve just come from the duty-free shop – then it’s totally cool).
3. Use the overhead bin over YOUR head.
We all know the jerks that shove their carry-on bags into the first overhead space they see and then casually stroll to the middle of the plane for the emergency exit row seating. Life would be so much easier if they had allotted space. You’re sitting in 16D? You get thismuchspace allotted to 16D. Anything else goes under your seat or gets gate checked. Period.
4. If it doesn’t fit, you must check it.
There’s this concept of mass and volume and I’m pretty sure that pushing and shoving something isn’t going to change the laws of physics. And sitting down hoping the flight attendant can cram it in doesn’t work either. Also, it slows down the entire boarding process.
5. Don’t take the bulkhead seating if you have more than one bag.
Sorry but I feel strongly about this one. Oh, sure, you want the extra leg room but at whose expense? Don’t shove your extra bags in the overhead bins and make me cram everything under my seat.
6. Don’t sit in a window seat if you don’t want to look out the window.
I know sometimes we don’t have a choice where we sit. But generally, people sitting near windows like to look out windows. Not look at a window shade with your sleeping head on it.
7. Don’t touch my window shade.
I almost bit a woman’s hand once because she not only closed her window shade but reached forward into my row and closed my window shade. I hastily said, I want my window shade open and then proceeded to open it 3/4 of the way. Do NOT mess with my view.
8. Keep your child from kicking my seat.
If you don’t keep your child from kicking my seat, just know that I will turn around and look through the crack in the seats where you, as the parent, can’t see me but your child can. I will then give your child the death stare. So if you don’t want that to happen and see your child burst into what appears to be spontaneous crying, just have them stop kicking.
9. Don’t look at anything on the plane that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone reading over your shoulder.
Not only am I nosy but my eyes wander. If you’re playing a game on your iPhone, I’m going to see what game it is. If you’re working on a PowerPoint on your laptop, I’m going to be reading your trade secrets. If you’re reviewing the latest P&L statement from your company, I’ll have my eyes on that too. Fair warning.
10. Don’t look at porn.
Yes, this actually needs to be said.
11. Headphones, people.
I love to play Candy Crush. I just don’t like to listen to YOU play Candy Crush. For five hours.
12. Don’t speak until spoken to.
I’ve said it before. I’m an introvert. After the stress and strain of getting to the airport and getting through security, I need quiet time. If you strike up a little conversation, please read my nonverbal cues that are saying I don’t want to talk to you. It’s nothing personal. Usually.
13. Keep your footwear on.
Yes, I know that feet swell in the air. But use your judgment. If you have stinky feet on the ground, they’re going to be stinky in the air. And even worse, that air gets recirculated so it’s like intensified stinky feet.
14. Brush your teeth and/or use breath mints.
Or, at the very least, keep your mouth closed. These are tight quarters.
15. Bathe, but not in perfume or cologne.
If our arrival city can smell you before the plane touches the ground, you’re wearing too much.
16. No farting.
Just do your best.
17. If at all possible, don’t do your bowel movement in the airplane bathroom.
Again, I know we can’t always control these things but there are usually two tiny bathrooms for 200 people. Someone is going to have to go in there after you and it’s not going to be pretty.
18. Don’t pee on the toilet seat.
I don’t even know if this is a gender-specific request. I just know that I frequently have to clean the toilet seat before I sit down. Gross.
19. Clean your damn tray.
I really don’t like the “surprise” in my tray when I lower it and get a lap full of crumbs. Just brush it into your drink cup before you hand your trash to the flight attendant.
20. Don’t leave a full bag of vomit in the seatback pocket.
True story: this happened to my husband. I can’t even.
21. Stay seated when they’re serving drinks and snacks.
You know that awkward dance, right? The one where one guy tries to squeeze past a middle-aged flight attendant in a space allocated for a teen girl. I say, hold it or wait until they’re past your row.
22. Stay seated when the fasten seatbelt sign is on.
It’s like the ONLY RULE in the air! Seriously. Not only can you easily bounce all over the place but you could bounce into someone else. If it’s an emergency, tell a flight attendant. They’ll do their best to accommodate you (this happened to me and a certain little boy who suddenly HAD to go to the bathroom as we were descending).
23. Don’t drink and fly.
Actually, I enjoy a good drink on a flight every now and then. It helps calm my nerves. I should actually say don’t drink to excess and fly. I’m talking to you, man who had six Bloody Marys on a morning flight.
24. Use your indoor voice.
Yes, we know you’re “networking” with the random guy sitting next to you thinking this is going to land you your next big deal but we don’t ALL need to hear your latest and greatest accomplishments. This might, however, have something to do with number 23.
25. No tuna sandwiches on board.
This one is self-explanatory.
Have I missed anything? Clearly, I have some odor sensitivities but most of it is common sense, right? Now if can just get every single traveler out there to read this…