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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 November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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