Enjoy the Journey?

I’m on the road a lot lately. Its a busy time so I’m traveling far and wide these days. The trouble is, the more I travel, the less patience I have for the newbie. I try to be sympathetic and always manage to muster some courtesy, but lately its all wearing a little thin when I seem to find myself trapped on an airplane more often than not. So I thought I might try and help you newbie travelers with some sage advice. Remember, I am also quite bossy so this is probably not unexpected.

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1. Don’t be Late
I have never missed a flight. Its probably due to my genetic pre-disposition to arrive at an airport 2 hours early (thanks Dad!). Airline check in times are a hard and fast rule. They’re not making any exceptions for you. We all know that you slept in/ cab didn’t arrive/ forgot to pack – sure that happens – but honestly don’t count on all the other people that set their alarm/ called the cab earlier/ packed the night before to let you budge the line. The same goes for getting to the gate on time. The time of your flight is the time they take off. You need to be there 30 minutes before for boarding. NO ONE appreciates the wait to have your luggage taken off the plane when you’re not there before the doors close.

2. Don’t Forget to Empty Your Pockets
Its security and yes we all know that its a massive drag. But unless you are TSA Pre and if you want it to go smoothly and quickly for YOU (and everyone behind you in line) there’s a few things to ALWAYS remember.
(a) Take off your shoes, belt, watch, bracelet. Its easier to take them off and put them back on again than to have a full pat down.
(b) Always take your laptop out of your bag and put it in a bin on its own. Trust. This is a necessity.
(c) Take off your coat, sweater, scarf – wear the least amount of clothes when passing through the metal detector.
(d) Always empty your pockets. NO ONE likes the dude who left $4 in change in his pocket and has to return for another pass once he’s fished out every last useless penny.

3. Don’t Try to Carry-On Full Size Liquids and Gels
This is not new. Full sized liquids and gels are not allowed in your carry on. And no, the security guard doesn’t care that the full bottle of shampoo you’re trying to smuggle cost $35. Get the travel size, put it in a ziploc and stop holding up the security line. Oh and PS – they won’t let you take your water either, so stop acting surprised!  Check out this link so you know the deal for next time.

4. Don’t Carry-On More than is Allowed
I’m very emphatic on this point. People that climb on board expecting to stuff their full sized rollerboard along with a suit bag, a duffle bag, a back pack and various shopping bags in the overhead compartment are just plain old selfish. I get it, we don’t like to pay checked bag fees, but the people that follow the rules and only bring 2 pieces max are the ones that end up having to gate check their laptop.

5. Don’t Try to Stash Your Stuff Just Anywhere
Under the seat in front of you, in the overhead or in the seat pocket are the only places where you can put your stuff. Your things do not, I repeat DO NOT go under your seat. That space is for the person behind you. And so on and so on. Think about it.

6. Don’t Spread Your Germs Around the Plane
Don’t fly if you’re sick. But if you absolutely have to, then do your best to keep it to yourself. Tissues, hand sanitizer, a mask. Whatever, just think about it before you start hacking and sneezing all over the healthy guy sitting millimetres beside you.

7. Don’t Steal the Armrests
I had the distinct pleasure (read: HORROR) of being stuck in a middle seat on a 9 hour Transatlantic flight the other day. I was between 2 men, both complete strangers and BOTH were armrest hogs. The amount that that sucked was a lot.

8. Don’t Be Mean to the Flight Attendants
Imagine if your workplace was a confined space, 34,000 feet in the air and full of cranky, tired, stressed out people that you had to cater too (and potentially save their lives if necessary). Cut them some slack. Its a tough job and a sense of humour can only get you so far!

9. Don’t Recline Your Seat Right After Take Off/ During the Meal or At All on a Flight Under Two Hours
Seriously, this is just common sense. If you’re reclining your seat you are being selfish. As airlines continue to reduce personal space on airplanes, the guy behind you does not enjoy the back of your seat in his face. Believe me. Your douchey need for a marginal increase in comfort (seriously, is it really any more comfortable to recline the seat the 5 extra degrees?) effects everyone behind you.

10. Don’t Be Rude When DePlaning
This is very simple. Unless you are about to miss a connecting flight, you wait politely until the row ahead of you has entered the aisle to deplane. Pushing ahead, forcing your way only slows everything down. We know you’re excited to be at your destination and we totally get that you want the hell off that bucket of bolts that just safely delivered you to the place you want to be, but come on. A little common courtesy here will make the whole thing easier to take.

Yes, this was a bitchy post. But a little common sense and awareness goes a long way in making your trip easier for you and your fellow travelers.

Airplane Sleep

I’m a total chump.  Couldn’t help myself.  I caved like chocolate macaron in the hands of 5 year old.  I just became one of those people that I secretly mock and chastise.  I bought a neck pillow at the airport.  You know – the really soft, squishy kind that takes up loads of space in your carry-on and looks completely stupid when you wear it.

Well that's $20 I'm never getting back...

Well that’s $20 I’m never getting back…

I was heading to the gate before a 9 hour night flight in an economy seat knowing that on the other end I was going straight to work – sleeping on the plane was going to be necessary and I was willing to do anything to help facilitate that.  The truth is, $20 on a plushy pillow is not going to help for shit.  I was in for a crappy night’s sleep no matter what.

People carry these ridiculous pillows, take pills, wear eye masks and ear plugs all in an effort to sleep on the red-eye but that’s kinda why they call it the RED EYE.  Its never going to be restful until you’re settled in that little pod up in business class safely away from the plebs in coach battling out for armrests and recline space.  The reality is that in that confined economy seat you are at the mercy of those around you.  The seat grabber behind you, old recliner in front, the snorer beside you.  Not to mention the sweet lady on the other side who has now rested her head on your shoulder and is out cold.  All the way to New York.  (Yes, this happened to me.  And NO I didn’t say anything.  I’m Canadian.  I just screamed in my head WAKE UP!!!!!)  Nothing helps you escape those factors so you can fall into a peaceful slumber.  Not to mention the physical constraints of stretching out or finding enough recline in the seat so you don’t do the old head bob forward.  No.  The fact is you’re lucky if you get any sleep at all.

I wedge myself into the seat with knees up trying to find some sort of fetal position of comfort.  In the meantime, my neck is wrenched, my tailbone bruised from the armrests and I’ve taken a drink cart to the back of the head.  Ahh airplane sleep, you elusive mistress.  The statement “Don’t worry, you can sleep on the plane” is an outright lie and everyone knows it.  Instead I guess I’ll just catch up on all the TV and movies I’ve missed.

 

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane

The Empty Gate.

The Empty Gate.

What is it with people when they travel.  Its like a switch goes off the minute they hit the security line-up.  They freak out and lose all sense of decorum and civility.  The guy who just rationally stood behind me in the Starbucks line-up is now at security pushing me through.  As I unpack every liquid, gel, electronic, shoe, jacket, sweater, piece of metal on my person – he’s filling the bins before I can finish.  Its no different all the way until we’re out of baggage claim on the other side.  What is it about air travel that causes people to completely lose their manners?

Maybe I’m a little grumpy but as I am just waking up with my first coffee following a completely packed red-eye on a 777, I think I have identified some of the main characters you encounter on when flying these days.  Here’s who to look out for:

1. The Premature Boarder – This is the lady who has camped out at the door to the gate in the hopes of being first on the plane.  Does she think there is a prize for being the first?  Like a nice chocolate waiting at her seat?  A bravo from the flight attendant perhaps?  Complimentary upgrade?  Um, no.  The Premature Boarder is flying economy, has no airline status, is not flying with small children nor is handicapped.  The Premature Boarder seems to be deluded into thinking that where you position yourself at the boarding gate matters.  First off – get out of the way.  Secondly, you are checked in and at the gate – the plane is NOT going to leave without you.  Find some patience and relax.

2. The Overpacker – Ok.  This Overpacker is not to be confused with my overpacking tendency.  This is not the person checking several large pieces.  This is the person with the oversized rollerboard, the massive duffelbag and some crazy souvenir piece of shit wrapped in bubble wrap.  The other variation on the Overpacker is the business traveller with the massive rollerboard and garment bag who refuses to pay checked bag fees and stows their luggage in the first overhead bins even though they are sitting in row 38.  Both of these people suck.  A lot.

3. The Seat-Grabber – This is the guy sitting in the row behind you that seems to forget that the seat back he insists on violently grabbing contains an actual human being that is nearly whiplashed every time he needs to check the overhead or take a pee.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

4. The Recliner – The Recliner is just a dick.  You know what I’m talking about.  They’re the ones that push the seat all the way back the minute the landing gear comes up.  Thanks pal.  I love that your seat back is now in my face and that I need to contort my 5’5″ frame just to get to my bag under your seat.  Don’t even get me started about when the meal service starts.  Put it up you idiot.

5. The Under-Seat Stower – Dude.  Don’t try and shove stuff under your own seat. It goes under the seat in front of you.  Enough said.

6. The Anxious De-Planer – This is the guy from Row 38, on his feet and in the aisle as soon as you hear that little bing when the seat belt sign goes off.  He doesn’t have a tight connection but what ever he’s up to upon arrival is way more important than whatever you’re doing.

7. The Jetway Sloth – The Jetway Sloth is usually traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  As they enter the Jetway, the apparent compulsion to GET OFF THAT PLANE ceases and they are now in no hurry at all.  Along with their friends they walk abreast and the minute you try to make a break for it and go around them they veer straight into your path oblivious to everyone else around them.  This happens several times in the span of 10 metres.

The Beloved Baggage Belt

The Beloved Baggage Belt

8. Baggage Claim Blocker – The BCB as I like to call them are often also traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  Using trolleys and carry-ons, they take up valuable real estate at the baggage belt, usually located right at the junction where the bags come out.  They pick up every bag, inspecting carefully to see if its theirs.  They don’t discriminate, even though their bag is green they check the black and navy and floral printed ones too JUST IN CASE they packed a bag they forgot.  When their bag does finally come out, it has several colourful pieces of ribbon and yarn tied to the handle to help distinguish it in situations just as this.

Beware of these traveling characters and the havoc they wreak on your already taxing travel day.  When you do encounter them, know you are not alone in the pain of managing their abhorrent behaviour.  Keep your fingers crossed for an upgrade!