The more I fly, the more I loathe the experience. I have enough issues with air travel as is (can’t we just take trains, bike, and walk everywhere?), but alas it’s something I feel compelled to do in my foolhardy quest to satiate my insatiable desire to travel to new places and hear new stories.
I wish I could be a tried and true eco-warrior who hated air travel solely because of the carbon footprint. But that’s not the case. Truthfully, what’s fueled my rage against air travel as of late are the people. The people who seem to mentally devolve into our early human ancestors as soon as they arrive at the airport. In fact, airline passengers are like drivers. Drivers think everyone around them is an idiot and so to do airline passengers.
In reality — you, sir or ma’am, are the idiot — and it seems you’ve forgotten how to behave at the airport. So I present to you, humanity, how to get on and off an airplane in five simple steps.
Get In Line
A novelty, isn’t it? You want to do something, you stand up, you get in a line and wait until it’s your turn. This basic, fundamental decorum goes out the window as soon as we step foot into an airport. We suddenly think of ourselves, and our inevitable issues, as infinitely more important than the cretins who surround us. So rather than be civil, we cut lines, charge ahead, and gather like an angry mob at the gate as if it’ll make the boarding process any quicker.
The tip here is simple — get in line.
Wait Your Turn
Again, we’ve got a superiority complex going on at the airport. Not only do we like to cut lines and squeeze ahead when clearly we’re way out of our element, but people seem to also enjoy skipping ahead when disembarking a plane. Anyone who has flown has had this experience. You’re sitting in the window seat and people are already lining up (because space doesn’t allow them a choice) to exit the aircraft. Then there’s that ding indicating you can now exit the plane. This is when people from the abyss charge ahead, assuming that because they’re standing they get to trot off the plane ahead of you. If you’re more assertive of your space and stand up when it’s your row’s turn to leave, you might bump into someone trying to rush ahead. They might even scoff at you for having the gall to remember basic elementary school bus procedures.
No. Just, no, folks. Wait for your damn turn. Skipping ahead of one or two people will not measurably improve your life in any way and will only make you seem like a dick.
Pee Before You Fly
I am a habitual window seat flyer because I’m at my wit’s end with people who wait until the plane has taken off — prime napping hours — to squeeze out of their seat and shuffle toward the bathroom. Of course I’m not talking about people with a medical issue — just your average, everyday adult blockhead who still relies on parental reminders to pee before leaving the house.
You know you’re going to be in the air for some time. This should be a reasonable assumption made upon purchasing the ticket. Hell, the airlines even clue you in on what time you’ll be boarding and how long the flight is. Plan accordingly and squeeze out whatever you need to before getting on the plane.
There’s A Security Check
Maybe you haven’t flown since before 9/11. Cool. Welcome back to the skies. For the rest of you — no excuses for being surprised that there’s a security checkpoint. You get some leeway if you’re traveling outside the U.S. where rules aren’t as consistent (though at least you generally get to keep your shoes on), but we know the rules for traveling out of a U.S. airport. If you’re traveling with someone who doesn’t, then be a hero and clue them in on the rules so the line doesn’t get backed up as some poor soul starts to undress in front of everyone.
Be A Person
I know this is contrarian to what some of us morph into when setting foot into the airport. Even when you arrive three hours early, there’s this sudden urge to get through security as fast as possible. I get it. Flying is more often than not an exhausting, unpleasant experience. But that’s not reason enough to check your humanity at the door and turn into a monster.
The gentleman behind the counter? He didn’t wake up, wondering how he could make your life slightly more miserable. The woman with the baby? Well, if there was a fucking button to turn off her kid, methinks she would’ve pressed it.
The airport is a cocktail of people from all over the world. On paper, it should be a pretty fantastic place. Think of all the travelers, the litany of experiences they’ve had and the stories they could tell. It’s astonishing.
Yet somehow, like a driver behind the wheel, we lose a piece of our humanity everytime we set foot into the airport. So the last tip? Resist that temptation to turn into a selfless demon. Be a person.