Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Not to Behave on an Airplane: A Passenger's Bill of Rights, from the Lonely Planet

How Not to Behave on an Airplane: A Passenger's Bill of Rights

Having spent the last three years flying between Austin, Texas and Charlotte, NC, on varying sizes of airplanes, mostly Very Small Ones, this article hit a note with me.  My favorite part of the article is the discussion of the armrest situation.  I agree, the middle person should have special status, and should be entitled to BOTH armrests.

My pet peeve is people who just don't read signs!  When I fly the tiny sardine-can jet offered by US Airways, oftentimes we are forced to gate check our carry-ons because the overhead bins are only big enough to hold a sheet of paper.  When we're all getting off the plane at our destination we have to line up in the jetway to wait for the bags to be brought up.  There is yellow & black tape covering the entire left side of the corridor, with large (make that enormous) signs saying "DO NOT STAND ON THIS SIDE".  Inevitably some poor illiterate, visually impaired souls will stand on that side, blocking the way for the baggage handlers, and clogging up the jetway.  Most of us stand in an orderly fashion, waiting our turn.  Others feel that they are entitled to forego all the rules of civilized society.

One question I have for the airlines is, who decides which equipment (translation: plane) is going to be used on which route?  Recently we flew a six hour red-eye flight on a rag-tag airplane, on which the seats didn't recline more than 1% off vertical and the lavatories smelled like they hadn't been cleaned since the 1990's.  We dozed and stretched, trying unsuccessfully to get a few minutes' sleep.  We then caught our 2 hour connecting flight home, and found to our amazement that it was an enormous, brand new shiny plane with seats (okay, in the interest of disclosure, we were in business class, and okay, I should stop whining) that reclined completely flat, with all the latest seat-reclining technology.  We barely had time to close our eyes before we landed.  But oh, that was the best ten minutes' sleep ever.

I will forego discussing my other pet peeves, lest I start to sound like a grouchy old curmudgeon (is there a female version of a curmudgeon?).  Usually people behave acceptably and everyone arrives at their destination with all their faculties intact.  I have yet to see a really outrageous occurrence on a flight (flight attendants jumping down emergency slides, movie stars peeing on the floor ... )  Would love to hear your stories about travel.  (I'm sure there are lots!)


Rachel Thomas said...

The most outrageous real plane story I have heard ISN'T MINE but I heard it in a TCK group when I was a teenager and I still laugh about it. The Mills' family booked tickets on a flight in Indonesia. When passengers tried (note:tried) to embark, it soon became apparent that each seat had been triple booked. Having no way to squeeze everyone in, the pilot had everyone disembark and run around the plane once. The first people to make it back to a plane seat got to fly on that flight.
A pet peeve of mine is people with awful colds or flus travelling and coughing and sneezing all over everyone. My sister-in-law has just been home sick from work for six weeks having caught a flu after a particularly bad episode of this.
And another peeve- people who hestiate long enough to let you know their displeasure and they sigh and garrumph when you need to get out past them when you're stuck near a window and need to go to the bathroom.
That's all mine for now. I LOVE this blog!!!

Liz said...

Something similar happened to me: we were in Moscow trying to get on a flight to Samara, in the south of Russia. We got our "boarding passes" with seat assignments for row 17. It was a free-for-all to board. When we got on the plane, there were only 16 rows! We sat down in that row and prayed that no one would kick us off. I guess the poor unfortunate souls who were seated in row 16 were too late. Actually there were two men who stood up (!) the entire flight in the rear of the plane! Go figure.