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12 Dos and Don’ts of Air Travel For Conscientious Travellers

12 Dos and Don’ts of Air Travel For Conscientious Travellers

I don’t know what it is about air travel, but it certainly brings out the worst in people.

I’m sure you’ve experienced what I’m talking about first hand, but in the spirit of providing context, let me recall one particularly odious flight from Melbourne, Australia to Singapore. I was already tired from a hard day at work as I settled into my business class seat with an open berth beside me. Just as a sigh of relief slipped between my lips, a rather well-nourished sweaty blob wedged himself in and introduced himself as “Jeff.”

Jeff was anything but the perfect gentleman and the flight was arduous. Over the next seven hours, I was subjected to a veritable horror show as the cheese plate arrived and Jeff regaled me with an extended conversation about his love for muscle cars while occasionally pausing to spray me with well masticated morsels of his artisanal cheese sandwich. When we finally set down in Changi airport, I was amazed that I had not strangled the oaf.

Such people are not inherently evil; they are simply part of a mass hallucination that occurs when you pack several hundred people into a long silver tube and accelerate them down a runway towards the wide blue yonder. It’s hardly reasonable to expect passengers to follow normal etiquette when under such stress, yet I have come to the conclusion that some simple rules are in order. They may help the more challenged amongst us to be decent people at the airport.

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Here, I present my twelve rules of decent behavior at the airport, in no particular order.

Do Stay In Your Seat And Out Of Mine

Perhaps the most important concept in air travel is personal space. We are each allocated a tiny berth consisting of a seat and its associated legroom that we guard jealously. The edge of our space is a small armrest that defines an inviolable boundary. Cross it at your peril.

Do not place your items in my space. Do not allow your overextended frame to ripple into my sacred air. This is my seat, I bought it, and I claim it as my own.

Do Say Hi To Your Seatmates And Then Stop Talking

Ah, the blabbermouth — where to begin? It’s fair to say I probably don’t want to talk to you for the entire flight, and, in fact, I may desire no social discourse at all. Why not say hi to me, then gauge my response to see if I have any interest in continuing the conversation? If not, close your mouth and leave me alone so that I can plug my noise-cancelling earphones (hint, hint) into my iPhone and listen to something interesting. It’s only courteous, after all.

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Don’t Let Your Kids Kick the Back Of My Seat

So you are traveling with kids. I get it — I have three of them myself and traveling with them can be stressful as you try to keep them under control, so I won’t be sweating the small stuff like screaming. However, I do take umbrage to your child’s repetitive act of kicking the back of my seat all the way from San Jose to Boston, and if you could please spare me this hideous journey I would be forever grateful.

Don’t Grab The Back Of My Seat

Need to get up to hit the restroom? Take your time and don’t reach forward to grab my headrest to support you as you clamber out of the row. The whiplash you cause when you let go and the violation of my personal space as you reach forward are unacceptable to me. Worse still is the lout who grabs my hair at the same time.

Don’t Save Seats When You Have Preferred Booking

In today’s economically challenging world, airlines will sell anything, including the right to get on the airplane first before the rest of the maddening crowd begins their lumbering charge for seats. This is a wonderful expression of capitalism at its finest that I support wholeheartedly. What I cannot abide is the preferred passenger who boards and then attempts to “reserve” an entire row of seats for his or her traveling companion who did not pay the preferred fee.

Don’t Hog The Chargers

Many airports now provide power in the area around the gates, and the days of scrounging for an outlet in the middle of the corridor are largely gone. Unfortunately, there are rarely enough of these outlets to go around. If your battery is at 100% and you are still plugged in while others wait, then I say you are less than human.

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Don’t Touch My Bag

Continuing with our theme of personal space as a pivotal concern of travel, please don’t touch my bag once I’ve placed it in the overhead. Ask me politely and I will move it to a new location on your behalf or suggest a place where your bag might fit more gainfully. Touching my bag without my permission will elicit a less gentlemanly response. Airline attendants are excluded from this rule, of course.

Do Respect Baggage Limits

In its infinite wisdom, the airline has allocated each of us a certain number of bags that may be carried on the flight. The computation of this travel limit is based on weight and balance computations for the aircraft, as well as profit calculations by the airline. Regardless of how we feel about the veracity of this sacred formula, it is set in stone and attempting to override it only causes delays.

Please don’t velcro extra bags onto your main bag in an attempt to get past the baggage limit. Don’t turn up at the gate with your bag plus some massively oversized lug-around pack and then act surprised when the agent turns you back or insists on charging a fee while we all wait to board.

Do Check Your Bags

The days of expecting to get all your bags onto a plane are largely gone. If you are boarding in zone 4, the chances of you getting your bags on the plane are non-existent. Get ahead of the game — check your bags and save us all some time.

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Do Pay Attention To Your Hygiene

Is it really so hard to take a bath before you decide to travel on an airplane with me?

I’m not talking about genuinely earned travel smells such as those that come from a long-haul flight followed by a domestic leg, but rather the slob who appears to never have heard of the concept of soap and deodorant. If you are to be my partner for the next several hundred miles, I am going to have to smell your foul scent. Rest assured, I will be planning a long and arduous death for you as we traverse each and every mile.

Do Be On Time So We All Leave On Time

Airplanes leave at specific times and must abide to flight plans. Running up to the gate 20 seconds before the flight is set to leave will not endear you to me. You may inconvenience several hundred people if the gate agent does not turn you back. Think of all the drama that could have been avoided if you’d just been on time.

Do Know The TSA Rules And Follow Them

While I understand that not everyone flies regularly, the TSA rules are readily available, and reading them before we fly may save ourselves and our fellow travelers significant time in the security line. Packing bottles of vodka or keeping knives on your person and then acting terribly surprised during the pat down are all idiotic things to do in the post-9/11 era. Read the rules, then follow them.

Let Me Leave You With a Travel Quote

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Colin Rhodes

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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