American Airlines lately announced a campaign to foster better etiquette and kindness between travelers. The supposing being: hey, if we can promote our passengers to act a little bit less like animals, perhaps theyll detest flying fewer and be willing to pay a bit more for it. This is great thinking because passengers do act like animals , not only on American but on every airline, in every airport.
As someone who travellings a lot for businessone month this year considered three separate business journeys to different countries in EuropeI see it every time I fly. Given that people are rude, unaware and incredibly selfish, even a short flight may require all of ones philosophical train to calmly endure and forgive, rather than seethe with rage and disgust.
Because American Airlines wouldnt go far enough in terms of calling out certain behaviors, I will. Below is my listing of rules and ethical guiding principles for travelling. Ive written about this topic enough to know that people wont agree with all of them, but then again, Ive been doing this long enough to also know that the rationale for why disagree will almost always be absurdly selfish ones.( Dont believe me? Just watch for the comments ).
But if everyone followed them…
1. A good traveler is quiet Last week, I sat next to a woman singing along to her nine year old to songs she detonation from her iPhone speaker. Maam, youre obnoxious and youre raising your child to be the same. What would it be like if everyone played music without headphones and sang during this flight? Right now, I am sitting next to two strangers who have been talking for the last two hours across the aisle on a late evening flight. Ive been on flights where the person in the row in front turned around, sat backwards in their seat and chatted over the top of to their neighbor like Wilson from Home Improvement. Planesand airportsare quiet zones( except for say 15 minutes after takeoff and the 15 minutes before landing ). Talk to your spouse or your travel companion when you get to where youre going. Leave the rest of us out of it. Plug in and tune out.
2. The middle of places is not a good place to stop The second lane at the arrivals or deviations road at the terminal. The packed and busy hallways. The doorway as you exit the jetway and re-enter the airport. The end of a moving walkway or the entryway to an escalator. These are bad places to stop . There are people behind you. Theyre travelers , just like youexcept they may have connects or a meeting theyre late for. Stopping means you are getting in their route. If you need to look at something, get your bearings, check something, wait for someone, simply kindly step to the side. It will construct everything flowing more smoothly and it will also, you know, lessen collisions. 3. Crowding in chutes is for cows not for people A few months ago, a flight I was onto Geneva was repeatedly delayed for mechanical and then weather issuesfirst, for fifteen minutes before we were to committee, then for an hour, then for two hours, then for another thirty minutes and then finally, cancelled altogether. I watched with astonishment as we walked away in abhorrence for the final period that some passengers had never left their spots in the boarding queue the entire hour . They stood and sat there for close to four hours. Voluntarily! The airline had repeatedly told them to leave and run get something to feed. They even gave us vouchers! The only animal that so willingly stands and stares so blanklyoften to its own physical perilare kine. I know this, because I drove home from the airport and went straight home and fed ours. They even had the same look upon their faces as the people I nearly flew with.
4. Hollering at anyone says more about you than it does about them Obviously air travel in the United States is an abysmal experience, defined by its utter unreliability and topped merely by the airlines complete apathy to the customer experience. And yetgetting upset about this says more about you than it does about them. Screaming at some poor man or woman working the customer service desk for something they are not personally responsible for is simply you raging at your impotenceit is not solving the problem. I say that not to blame you, Im saying that as a criticism of myself too. Ive been there. It doesnt make anything better. It wont change the climate. It wont get you your fund back. Just deal with it.
5. Get on the plane promptly, get by the plane quicklyactually, do everything rapidly Look, you might have all the time in the world, but other people may not. They may have also been traveling for days and desperately want to get home. Dallying as you take your seat is holding up hundreds of people. Remaining in your seat until the aisle clears and leisurely get up and grabbing your bagwhen you could have gotten it earlier while everyone else was standing aroundis holding people up. Your lawsuit of the slackens generates a ripple effect. Its also rude. Take your time wherever youre goingat the airport, act like youre on someone elses timebecause you are( also, by the way, planes sitting on the runway is one of the most expensive costs incurred by an airline. If we could all turn planes around faster, they could sell more tickets and charge less for each one ).
6. Merely assholes recline their seats When stuck in economy, and craving for a little more space, remember everyone else is stuck in economy too . Treat your fellow man with respectdont recline your seat. Yes, I know it is allowed. But so are a lot of things: You can push your seat way back in a eatery. You can drive route slower than the speed restriction. You can spend so much better hour as you like in the bathroom freshening up. But all these things come at a cost to other people, which is why an empathetic, aware human being doesnt do them. We try to minimize our negative impact on other people( and we dont justify selfish actions with ridiculous excuses like Its legal! or Everyone else does it and I dont complain when they do it to me !) 7. The middle seat gets both armrests This is a simple math equation people. The aisle seat has its own armrest( and the benefits of being able to stand up and walk around easily ). The window seat has its own armrest( and the wall to lean up against ). If either of those seats also had title to half of the middle armrest then the person occupying that seat would only get two half-armrests and no other benefits. Hence, the fair perk of the middle seat is that they get both. If they feel like sharing, surego ahead( or ask them if they mind !). But merely an entitled asshole takes .
8. If sitting in first class, youre obligated to steal snacks for other people Sometimes when I go to seminars, theyll fly me first or business class. My spouse comes with me, and well usually just take turns splitting the nice ticket and save money by buying an economy ticket. Same goes if one of us is upgraded and the other isnt. But this perk comes with a responsibility: To hook the other one up with as many snacks( and pajamas and earplugs and other swag) as possible.
9. Only children are allowed to pack pillows Look around you, the people you see in suitsthey travel 20 x more than you do. Do you consider them bringing any part of their bed with them? Of course notbecause it would be rude to take up that much space on the plane, since they are dont want to carry around anything extra and because they have pillows where theyre going . Arriving with a pillow at the airportneck pillow but especially a full , normal bed pillowshould result in automatic revoking of pre-check status, and demotion in boarding priority, and a slap upside the head.
10. Passengers must help each other If a person has trouble getting something into an overhead bin, help them. If someone falls something, picking it up. If you find something person left behind, take a second to give it to an agent or to the lost and found. Little gestures matter. They say: I am human. I am you. We are in this together.
11. No one should buy anything from Cinnabon. Ever. As I said, were all in this society thing together, and especially with Obamacare, we owe it to our fellow human being to pass on feeing 5,000 calorie intestine busting snacks( whether theyre from Panda Express or McDonalds or any other airport abomination) while we wait for our aircraft. In fact, if we all weighed a little less, flying would be cheaper, less cramped, and candidly, would probably reek better. Get to this air travel nirvanas will require better choices. Starting now.
12. Preboarding is for people who actually need it Im sorry maam, the cat youre carrying in a baby bjorn( yes, I really saw this) does not entitle you to board first. In fact, you should board last and we should all get at hit you with rolled up in-flight magazines as you walk down the aisle. Preboarding for active duty military? As a society, we are deeply in their debtletting them committee a flight early does not counting as refund for their service and candidly, its an embarrassing charade for everyone involved. The point is: If we got rid of preboarding except in the rare cases where people actually needed it, we could just all committee faster and be on our way.
13. This plane is not your home A plane is a public place. You can be gross and rude at home…but not here, whenever it is trapped in a thin metal tube together. That entails leave your shoes on( unless its some long international flightin which occurrence, socks ). That entails garmenting somewhat appropriately. That means not carrying your belongings in a torn up paper grocery suitcase or manspreading your way into other peoples personal space. That means not putting your feet up armrests or bulkhead walls. That entails asking your kids to behave. That means not get sloppy drunk. Do that shit when you get home.
14. Your TV is a touchscreen not a Whack-a-Mole Television in the seatback in front of you is a modern marvel rivaled merely by airline wifi and manned flight itself. The technology that goes into using the TV is equally impressive. More often than not airlines choose to build them touchscreens. The operative part of the word there is TOUCH. They are not pushscreens or stabscreens or jaboverandoveragainscreens. Yet unavoidably I will look over and assure some irritated passenger playing whack-a-mole with their touchscreen wholly oblivious or unconcerned that there is a human being on the other side of that headrest who is being forced to endure the airplane equivalent of Chinese water torture or, perhaps more accurately, the adult version of having their seat back kicked by a 5-year old. Remember, in a confined place like an airplane there is almost no physical act you are able to build that does not in some way affect the person or persons around you.
15. Until the technology improves, the honorable thing to do is to print your boarding pass before you go through security I would personally love to live in a world where you could just pull your ticket up on your phone and breeze through security and the boarding agent. The reality is that we do not live in that world. Can you try to zoom in for me sir? Oops, I think it turned when I tried to scan it. Sorry, I think your screen ran darknes. Is there anywhere else in their own lives that “youre using” QR codes? So why would you use them when 250 people are waiting in line behind you? Just publish your pass. Youll never trash battery life. You never hold up a line impotently touching your phone against the scanner over and over again from multiple slants. Youll also have something to spit your gum out into.( And if you feel bad about print, simply recycle it in one of the bins when you land)
16. The place to wait for your gatechecked purse is against the opposite wall in a line This is also a pretty simple matter of logic and geometry. If people line up on both sides of the jetway, it immediately becomes very crowded and hard for other passengers to pass through. If people line up on the same side that the door from the tarmac is on then only the first few folks are going to be able to see the containers when they come out( and what are the chances that the first peoples bags are going to magically arrive first ). The only logical place for everyone to wait, then, is on the opposite side. This is not complicated. Stupidity is what builds it a mess.
I know that many of these rules seem basic. Some of them may seem pointlessly constraining. Well, that is the point. When Bill Walsh tells that if allowed to someones, like water, will gravitate towards lower groundthis is what he has in intellect. Because the airline industry refuses to enforce any norms or denounce any behaviors, were left with anarchy. Were left with selfish people making selfish options that make an unpleasant experience even more unpleasanteven as the costs of that privilege goes up and up.
Enough. Be the change you want to see in the world. Hold yourself to a standard. Start with the ones listed aboveand of course, if you have better, more considerate ones, please share. Ill follow your leading.