Monday, July 20, 2009

In-Flight No No's

I fly frequently enough in my avocation as a musician for Irish dancing competitions that I’ve become a connoisseur of seats (JetBlue has comfy seats, Continental’s leave my bum sore), in-flight food (I appreciate Continental’s commitment to providing food, but I really love the United snack-box), boarding procedures (on United, they board windows first. Continental boards from the rear forward. And Southwest boards in groups based on your check-in time), and in-flight perks (MidWest Express has delicious food for sale and awesome chocolate chip cookies).

Over the years I have done more than my fair share of travel. I have, consequently, developed a host of pet peeves associated with travel. Before I head off on vacation, I thought I might render a service to fellow travelers by sharing this list so that you can avoid committing an atrocious faux pas that will cause me to say prayers against you and your well being.

• Even in these tough economic times, bringing a raw onion and a plastic-wrapped summer sausage with you as your in-flight snack is not advisable.
• Please refrain from lathering your legs with cocoa butter, especially if you plan on falling asleep. To begin with, cocoa butter has a distinctive smell. Second, when you fall asleep, your legs will invariably change position and your right leg will press up against your seatmate’s, imparting a dark stain on his khaki pants.
• Do not ask the person sitting next to you if he has “been redeemed.” He is not a coupon. I’m very pro evangelization, but the confined quarters of an airplane may not the be most appropriate place for it.
• It is a show of consideration to bathe and brush your teeth before going to the airport. This is especially important if your head happens to tilt to one side when you sleep, blasting your neighbor with an odor so foul that it makes the local sewage treatment plant look like a Chanel outlet.
• Having bathed, do not feel obliged to douse yourself in your drugstore cologne. Axe body-spray might win you a date at a bar, but it will earn you only the ire of other passengers if they can smell you down the jetway.
• During the meal service, if your neighbor has fallen asleep, please do not attempt to steal the nut-log out of his meal tray. It belongs to him. Indeed, just think how embarrassed you’ll be if he wakes up as your big fingers are fumbling to extricate the nut-log from between the bun/beef/lettuce entrĂ©e and the wilted side-salad.
• Your spouse or partner many think your feet are sexy, but they’re probably gross to everyone else. If you slip your sandals off, please keep them off of the seat and, whatever you do, do not think that the two hours of air travel are affording you the opportunity to pick at your calluses or to de-lint your toenails.
• The aforementioned comment applies also to playing with or picking at your teeth or your nose.
• If you want to avoid looking like a raging alcoholic on a short flight, don’t ask the people sitting on either side of you if they’d buy a drink for you if you give them the money.
• I’m all for traveling in style, but is it really a good idea to put on ALL of your jewelry before you head out to the airport, where you’ll have to take all of it off to go through security? Furthermore, if you are going to wear thigh-high boots, remember that you’ll have to manage to get them off somehow.
• Once you’re through security, it might be a nice gesture to not get dressed while standing next to the conveyor belt. Take your possessions and walk on and then, when you’re no long blocking traffic, you can feel free to get dressed.
• If you travel with children – and God bless you if you do! – please keep an eye on them so that they don’t paint someone’s leg with peanut butter.

As I said, these are pet peeves. They are such because they are all things I have seen and experienced in my travels. Funny though some of them may be in retrospect, many of these have contributed to great irritation. If you can avoid committing any of these, know that you’re on your way to earning your way to traveler’s heaven!


Ryan Rallanka, SJ said...

I think I'm a repeat offender on a number of these. More time in purgatory??

Ryan Duns, SJ said...

If one breaks any of these commandments, eternity in purgatory would be like a Carnival Cruise compared to the hell that (hopefully) awaits!

Jason said...

Once you’re through security, it might be a nice gesture to not get dressed while standing next to the conveyor belt. Take your possessions and walk on and then, when you’re no long blocking traffic, you can feel free to get dressed.

Did you know that the area just past security which is designated for such a thing is called the recombobulation area?

Joe said...

I'd like to add (as someone who's done time in many airports) the following:

1) Regardless what time your flight takes off, get to the airport NOW.

2) NEVER check in luggage. The last time I checked in luggage (1995) they lost my bag. These days airlines charge passengers to check-in luggage, so it's probably cheaper to FedEx your apparel. The way things are going, they'll want you to pony up for fresh cabin air.

3) If you're on a flight with UNassigned seating, whenever you see someone looking at the empty seat next to you, look at them, waggle your eyebrows and pat the seat in a beckoning manner. Also, under these circumstances, avoid sitting next to anyone who already started eating.

4) If possible, avoid flying out of O’Hare. Drive to Detroit if need be.

5) Bring your own DVDs for the laptop. In-flight entertainment actually lowers your IQ. Not that most movies don't, but at least you're in control.

6) There’s more legroom in exit rows. Sure, they'll ask you if you're willing to open up the exit, but frankly, if things turn into a squajillion flaming splinters hurtling towards a cornfield at 550 knots, I don't think they'll hold you to it.

7) Put down the Sky Mall magazine.

8) There's no such thing as St. Joseph's Valium for Children. We've looked.

9) If you're flying somewhere northerly during winter and you have to change planes somewhere, you'll likely miss your connection. If that plane change is in St. Louis, then you WILL miss your connection.