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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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