Motion photography of Pilot traveling with luggage at airport.  Taken by Atlanta commercial photographer Chris Hamilton.

11 Signs Of A Poor Airline User – Have You Made Any Of These Mistakes?

Motion photography of Pilot traveling with luggage at airport. Taken by Atlanta commercial photographer Chris Hamilton.

Motion photography of Pilot traveling with luggage at airport. Taken by Atlanta commercial photographer Chris Hamilton.

We all have stories from airports or planes that make you want to scream and vote for required IQ testing for those looking to reproduce. I get it and have recently experienced some of these myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect but do have quite a bit of travel experience and feel I understand airport and airplane etiquette to make me a person you’d like to sit next to! From waltzing through security, arranging your sleeping quarters and saving the always coveted Frozen backpack from complete doom…here are 11 mistakes travelers may encounter but certainly don’t want to be the cause of!

1. Security – are you the person that flawlessly waltzes through a security line or do you fumble every step of the way? For you fumblers, please note that you will completely hold up the line without proper education and will piss off a large population at the start of your journey! I can make it easy for you: take off your shoes, put your laptop in a separate bin and make sure your liquids are under 4 oz and in a separate plastic bag. There…done. So the next time two security officers tell you to take your laptop out of your bag even if it’s still in it’s original packaging, don’t wait until you get to the end of the line to ask again whether you have to take it out and hold everyone up!

2. Moving Walkways and Escalators – there’s nothing worse than when you have a 20 minute layover and your next gate is at the opposite end of the airport. Luckily airports have thought of this and installed moving walkways to help people get from one end of the airport to the other in a shorter amount of time. What doesn’t help is when people use these walkways to stand and get shuffled along to their next destination…what’s worse is when these people come in groups and block the entire walkway from those looking to utilize it’s purpose. Walkways work the same way as highways, slower traffic to the right, allow those to pass on the left…it’s not complicated so get it right.

3. Gate Seating – don’t be the person that sits at the charging station, reading a book or watching the tv monitor, not using the charging station. Take the empty seat across from you and allow people who need the stations to use them! That or I’m going to continue to hover over you, checking that my phone is charging and obnoxiously asking you to “pardon me.”

4. Stowing Overhead Luggage – this is another time when people can really hold up lines, in the most annoying way! If you know you have to put your luggage in the overhead compartment, get what you need out prior to getting to your seat (you know, when you’re bored in line standing on the loading bridge prior to boarding the plane?) and don’t be the high maintenance woman with the overstuffed “personal item” plus carry on that hits everyone isle sitter on the way back to her seat in row 34. Take your damn bag off and hold it in front of you.

5. Window Seating – we all know that inside seat has far more advantages than the other two. You have a wall to rest your head on, a window to escape to and you don’t have to fight for an arm rest (I’ll get into arm rests next!) Yes, you have to claw your way out to use the bathroom but there’s a small amount of joy in inconveniencing the annoying passengers next to you when you need to get up, just don’t do it 5 times in a flight that lasts 1 hour and a half. With the window seat comes a large responsibility…to keep the window shade open! Don’t be selfish and shut that window and keep all us middle seaters guessing. I understand there may be different views on this, especially when it’s dark or your flying over the ocean and may feel there’s “nothing to see” but at least communicate with your fellow passengers and survey the opinions. If you are one that doesn’t choose seating assignments during your purchase and end up with this lucky seat but don’t care to take on the massive window responsibility, you are always welcome to kindly ask those next to you if they would prefer to switch…that would be major airplane karma points.

6. Headphones – ALWAYS bring headphones! It’s a savior for annoying talkers, crying babies and “the oblivious passenger” which I just encountered today! Let me take a quick minute to define “The oblivious passenger” – this is the woman (or man) that doesn’t realize how their actions affect their surroundings. I’m sure they are unaware of their behaviors in life off the plane too but it’s particularly rude when you’ve now captured your surroundings in a small capsule where we are forced to endure you until someone beckons the flight attendant to deal with your awfulness. For example, my recent experience with the oblivious passenger was a woman that had been playing music on her phone, listening through her headphones but this music had reached deafening levels (probably because she haas now gone deaf) and she had created a full blown concert to those within a 3 row radius consisting of horrendous pop/rock tunes. How she hears anything in life is beyond me but I’ll tell you what…I was grateful for my headphones that allowed me to escape while watching those near her bearing through the pain.

7. Sleeping – sleeping arrangements on airplanes are never comfortable or easy (unless you score that empty row in which case everyone else will glare at you in envy and you may revel in your fortunes!) but one thing is for certain, you must mind those next to you and understand sleeping etiquette. Everyone on the airplane is provided a small space no larger than 1 foot by 2 feet, at most. This is your seat and leg room in front of you. You are given 2 armrests but by no means does this mean both are solely yours and your headrest is yours to use, meaning you do not lean into the seat next to you unless that person is knowingly in a relationship with you or a blood relative. This is especially true for you window seaters. Don’t be a jackass and lean into the middle seat when you have a perfectly good wall to lean against that moves you as far away as possible from the person sitting next to you. Keep your drool, bad breath and weird teeth chatters to yourself, preferably away from my face! Middle seaters may find resting your head on the tray table comfortable for a short period of time. I suggest trying this however, do know, that should that window seater need to excuse themselves to the john you will need to adjust, and that includes waking up!

*FYI, Leg positioning is equally as important as head positioning. DO NOT at any point allow your leg to venture into territory beyond that which has been given to you. Most airlines have barriers separating leg room below seats and it is NEVER ok to cross those barriers. If there are no barriers then common rule of thumb is to only utilize the space in front of your seat and nothing more. Again, this happened to me today when the window seater not only leaned into my face while sleeping but proceeded to move his legs into my seating area, crossing the metal barrier below the seat and extending his leg beyond my carry on stowed underneath. Hashtag HOW RUDE!

8. Arm Rests – I know I’ve mentioned these a few times…let’s get to it. As I said above, you are given 2 armrests but by no means does this permit you to take over. To establish armrest territory can be an aggressive process when dealing with amateurs. First off, if you are first to your seat, be sure to place one elbow on the armrest, per designations below, and do not allow that elbow to move until you’ve taken off. If you are in a window seat, the armrest closest to the window is the only one you are allowed to use and same goes to the isle seat (the armrest closest to the isle is all yours) unless the flight attendants are passing out food and taking drink orders in which case you are temporarily allowed access to the opposite armrest. You middle goer cannot lean into one side or the other but instead you must daintily place one elbow fully on a rest or you may choose to half and half both armrests. You may share armrests in which case one individual will lean forward, taking up the front of the rest and the other individual is allowed the back..it’s up to you and your ability to establish “armrest dominance” – this can take years to master so be sure to practice often.

9. Kids – all I have to say is please be a cool, responsible parent and keep your kids from kicking the back of my seat. It’s not cute and I don’t find it as amusingly adorable as you do. This goes for the kids that hangover the back of your seat and stare at me too. I can only make “silly” faces for so long and would like my space to myself. If this were a puppy however, our conversation would be far different and I would like to hold, squeeze and snuggle struggle the crap out of it.

10. Exiting The Plane – same as boarding. Prepare yourself prior to walking off, do what you can to make the transition as easy, fast and smooth as possible. Also, take turns exiting your rows! There’s nothing more annoying than the asshole that races ahead 3 rows and keeps everyone in their seats because they didn’t learn how to alternate in kindergarten…although these are the same assholes that screw up your lift lines on a powder day too.

11. Baggage Claim – This is the last stop in your airport journey in which people can truly ruin your experience. The baggage claim area is much like your airplane seat. There are boundaries and you must stake claim and not cross into other’s territories prior to and during the luggage unloading process. It’s your own fault if you do not understand how carousels work and realize half way through that you’ve picked the absolute worst positioning and have to wait for the entire belt to make a full circle before you reach your bag. Should you not secure a front row position initially, you may politely ask those in front of you to move while you pick up your bag but do not head on in throwing elbows, shoving those next to you off their feet. When you do pick up your luggage it can be awkward and often times stuck on other bags. This does not mean you may walk with your luggage trying to unhook it while fumbling over people in your way. Let your bag go, walk to the next open area to retrieve your bag or wait for it to come full circle and try again. If you have multiple pieces of luggage, retrieve one at a time and set off to the side. Do not build up a “baggage barricade” causing other travelers to go all the way around you to access the carousel and please shuffle your children to the side so I don’t trip over the ever-so-popular Frozen backpack…heaven forbid I crush Elsa.

All-in-all, I’ve come to find in life that common sense does not exist for 75% of the human population. I mean that in the kindest (sort of) of ways and want to reinforce the old phrase “patience is a virtue” as I often times lose site of that. This article isn’t intended to poke fun at the inexperienced traveler but more to bring awareness to those that think of themselves as the expert. I want to encourage people to travel often as that is a HUGE perk to the seasonal life! I hope you enjoy the advice above, apply it and always remember practice makes perfect!

Leave a Reply