Lately, I’ve done a bit of airline travel within the US. While living overseas for 14 of the past 24 years, I learned how to observe what was going on around me. I had to learn this skill as quickly as possible to avoid offending new friends in my host country.
Since domestic travel is so new to me, I observed the following air travel rules which improved my travel experience when traveling within the United States and Canada.
Are my observations correct, or am I missing something?
Tip #1: Dress in your best as you travel
I remember listening to an interview of a flight attendant for the BBC World Service. She spoke of a time when it was fun to do her job, when the passengers were polite, clean and wore their best when traveling by plane.
Once upon a time, air travel was a magical experience, a treat, a miracle of science…
Now, we take the experience for granted. I have seen fellow travelers completely lose it because there was no room for all the extra bags they brought on to the plane with them. Others can’t stand it when the flight is delayed, their drink or food choice wasn’t available or the entertainment system didn’t work.
And right around the time we got so spoiled, we started to travel by plane in our pajama pants, uncomfortable sweatshirts and sweaty T-Shirts.
So now, it is very easy to stand out in the crowd at an airport: all you need to do is wear something you would wear to church on Sunday.
As J. Brian Lowder wrote in his excellent article about dressing up in your best for your next plane flight, people began to wear less and less formal clothing as they lost respect for air travel.
To recapture the magic, we must learn to dress nicely for the occasion once again. And Brian mentions some exciting incentives for those who are willing to give it a try.
Tip #2: Know your place
Alas, in our modern age, choosing whether you sit beside the window or the aisle is probably the only amenity you still don’t have to pay for. And yet, your choice of the window or the aisle says a lot about you!
I am a window-seat person. I love to fly. I am a dreamer. I like to fly above the clouds, and figure out where we are by the landmarks below me. I still have good circulation in my legs and tight control of my bladder for the most part, so am able to sit without getting up for hours at a time. I can also lean against the window and stick my arms out in its direction without disturbing anyone.
And I’m not afraid to ask a perfect stranger to let me out if I have to use the restroom.
Aisle-seat people are much more practical: they wish to depend on no one. They love freedom: When that seat-belt light is turned off, they can get up and walk around when they please.
Typically, aisle-seaters are heroes. They don’t want to bother anyone with a request to get up so that they can get out, they are ready to get up to let their neighbors out. And when they are willing to do so graciously, they generate a lot of good vibes from their middle- and aisle-seat companions.
Which one are you, a window-seater or an aisle-seater? Most of us are strongly one or the other. Once we realize who we are, doing our best to fit our personality with our seat number will make our time in the air much more pleasant.
I got it bad. For me, having a window seat is so important that I am willing to delay my flight by a day to get one!
Tip #3: Bring your own sandwich
Yes, many “cheap” airlines still offer meals on their flights… but at a cost. And what you get is not at all to be compared with the amount you spend. And you certainly can’t go by the descriptions and photos on the air travel magazine “in the seat pocket in front of you”.
As an example, compare this photo of a Roast Beef Slider offered by Delta Airlines…
With what you actually get…
… and there was a LOT of air in that Cape Cod potato chip bags…
My seat partner on this flight brought a huge sandwich with him, made just the way he likes it. Next time, I’ll be the one bringing the snacks and sandwiches I like best.
And if you miss preparing something before you leave for the airport, you are FAR more likely to get something that will satisfy your appetite without breaking your budget at one of the overpriced restaurants at most airports.
Tip #4: Keep your seat in its upright position
All of us have stories of how uncomfortable our trip was because the passenger in front of us put the seat down an inch or two.
The question is, when it is in your power to be kind to the person behind you, what will YOU do?
Let’s do for others what we would wish for them to do for us. If we don’t, it is possible that these things can get out of hand.
Do you have any tips to share that have helped you as you travel? Please share them by clicking on “Comments” below: