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Father. Sales & Marketing Executive. Blogger. Traveler. Wine Enthusiast. 'Nole for Life. 40 with "Benes" brand is a mindset and belief that, like a fine wine, you get better with age. Experience, wisdom, and knowledge allow you to have real, raw, authentic takes on life and business.

Fly the Un-Friendly Skies

A good friend recently asked me where I usually have my greatest epiphanies.  Without hesitation I answered, “On airplanes.”  I went on to explain that when the cabin door closes I become unwired.  It is that moment that I typically can exhale and focus on my strategic priorities without text messages, important calls, or new e-mails jamming up my inbox. 

As I thought more about it though my smile began to weaken.  Some of my most recent “unplugged” experiences weren’t epiphanic at all.  In fact, they were just the opposite.  Why the shift from pleasure to pain?   The simple answer is a lack of air travel etiquette.   The airlines are looking to stay in the business and get out of the red.  I think we all get that and have learned to deal with crowded flights, reduced customer service, exorbitant fares,  and a-la-carte fees.  I fully expect to be charged a $25 fee if I hit my call button in the near future.  These aren’t my pain points because we’ve all had to lower our expectations of the airlines over the last few years. 

The Un-Friendly Skies

My issue is with my fellow passengers that are traveling in a pressurized, sardine-can cabin at 500 mph.  Conditions are already bad enough on flights, but when air travel etiquette drops it crosses over into dangerous territory.   The things people do either in the terminal or on flights make me shake my head.  I find myself going back and forth between either “really” or “come on, man” responses.  I haven’t determined if people are just oblivious or belligerent.  Either way I’ve seen a dramatic drop-off in air travel etiquette.  What ever happened to one of the basic rules that we all learned in kindergarten?   Be kind and considerate of others.  I started documenting these etiquette issues a while back.  Some of them were funny at first, but now the list has grown to the point that I feel confident in publishing a Top 10 list that we can all relate to. 

Top 10 Offenses

  1. Security Check – Shouldn’t we all know by now that shoes and coats/jackets must come off, computers have to come out of the bag, and liquids are a no-no?  Also, plan ahead when you’re in the security line.  If you’re the guy that is pulling 15 things out of your pocket when you’re “on the clock” then people are going to get ticked off.  By the way, this usually happens when you are pressed for time and trying to catch a flight.
  2. Bottleneckers – These are the people that cause a bottleneck in the boarding area.  If you have a number “4” on your boarding pass then that means that you are not in first class or an elite traveler that will have early boarding privileges.  It means that you will be the last person to step foot on the plane.  If this is the case then stop jockeying for position at the front when the boarding process begins. 
  3. Loud Talkers –  Have some situational awareness.  If you’re talking on your cell phone or having a conversation with the person next to you and I can hear you from 15 rows back then you probably need to turn the volume down. 
  4. Silent Assassins – I’ll keep this one short.  Passing gas on a plane….not cool. 
  5. Going Horizontal – This is the one that I actually get anxiety over the most because I know I’m going to have to take action.  If you choose to recline your seat at 100mph  (rapid drop that almost breaks your laptop screen if you’re working) then you’re going to get three potential responses and none of them are good.   1) A polite, but stern request to put your seat back up,  2) If you decline then you’ll get a steady diet of knees in your back,   3) if that doesn’t work then I’m giving you The Heisman (arms extended out pushing your seat back up and then striking the pose to hold you in place while you fumble to find the button to recline again). 
  6. In-flight Entertainment – NBC sitcoms are not that good.  Alec Baldwin can be funny at times, but if you’re laughing out loud obnoxiously at the 3rd Rock episode on the TV monitor then that’s a problem. 
  7. Dress Code – Whatever happened to dressing nicely on planes?   I recently was on a flight to Little Rock where two kids, both over the age of eight, were cruising around in their pajamas, hair uncombed, and teeth unbrushed.  Feel free to insert any Arkansas jokes here. 
  8. Act Like You’ve been There Before – Just because you get free cocktails in first class doesn’t mean that you should sample them all.  I can’t tell you how many people I see getting tanked in first class although it is funny watching them stumble to the lavatory. 
  9. Chatty Cathies –  I think I need a new tactic because the ones I’m using aren’t working.  If I have my sunglasses on, ear phones in, and some type of reading material in my hand then that usually means that I have no interest in hearing about what you do for a living (standard opening line).  Please stop tapping me on the shoulder. 
  10. 17.5″ – That’s the width of airline seat.  This is the amount of space that you’ve paid for.  I’m a large individual but I fit into that space.  I know this because I’ve measured myself in the seat before.   If you’re a person of girth that exceeds the 17.5″ of space then you’re going to wreak havoc on your fellow travelers.  If you’re a “person of girth” sitting in the aisle seat and you block the beverage cart…that’s a problem.  If you are pinning the person in the window seat into the cabin wall to the point where there’s a red mark on their cheek…that’s a problem.   If you are giving off so many BTU’s that the arm of the person next to you feels like it is being lit up by a blowtorch…that’s a problem.  

The list could go on and on.  I even have great pictures that I’ve taken over the years that I’ll save for another blog.   Air travel etiquette is a real issue, but it can be improved if we go back to some of the those basic kindergarten principles.  If you have similar or different experiences we’d all like to hear about them in the comments section.  Safe travels!

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5 Comments on “Fly the Un-Friendly Skies”

  1. Anonymous 01/05/2012 at 6:32 AM #

    Excellently written and sooo true. However, I envision the airline industry jumping on your idea of measuring butts as they do luggage, thus creating a new revenue stream. Do you think we should buy some airline shares?

  2. 40withbenes 01/05/2012 at 7:09 AM #

    Nice point. Revenue would go through the roof for airlines and P90X/Insanity programs.

  3. Kevin 01/05/2012 at 11:15 AM #

    I could live with almost everything you mentioned, if the airlines would reconfigure the seatbacks so they couldn’t be reclined. It seems that, that would be relatively easy and inexpensive to do; given everything they have already taken away.

    • Tess 12/27/2012 at 9:38 PM #

      I agree. Disable the reclining seats! No one is actually comfortable in that position anyway.

      Especially on domestic fights there is no reason the 350 pound guy needs to jerk his head into my lap. It’s not only cracking the laptop screen, but I’ve been stuck next to someone’s children when as soon as the sodas are delivered a joker will pop back, spilling the kid’s drink all over my stowed purse and lap. Try getting an extra napkin to wipe up the mess…

  4. Anonymous 12/23/2012 at 7:23 AM #

    Accurate assessment of the current conditions out there. I would like to add the passanger who puts his two bags in the overhead at the front of the plane and his/her seat is in the back.
    Here’s to 2013!

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