Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Plane Etiquette for Travelers and Airline Management Alike

I’ve had the recent pleasure lately of doing some traveling for work. The prospect of traveling was well received by me for many reasons. First (and I guess on paper, the most important), I was excited about what this meant for my career. While I am always welcome at client meetings that are in driving distance and require little time from me, it is not very often I get to travel to a client site. With the CEO breathing (or should I say screaming) “MORE BILLABLE HOURS” down my everyone’s throat, time spent traveling is time not spent billing. Also, with the obvious cost sensitivity clients feel these days, it wasn’t necessarily justified. However, as I am invited to more client meetings that require travel, it is apparent that I am in fact an important part of the team, and am a valuable resource at these meetings. Gosh, it sounds so much like work gobbledygook doesn’t it? (Can you believe gobbledygook was in the spelling dictionary?!) The other reason being the more obvious; traveling is fun! I really enjoy seeing new cities and exploring while I’m there, even if it is for a few brief hours.

In the past two months, I’ve been to California twice, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and I am currently somewhere over the Midwest flying to Seattle. So, needless to say, in the past two months, I’ve been on a plane quite a bit, and a few things really irk me nerves. Here are my top three annoyances of flying in order of least annoying to most.

Why do people think it’s okay to fart on a plane? Disgusting! Just because we’re 30,000 miles up doesn’t mean your stinky funk disappears into the atmosphere. No! We smell it and we are disgusted!

The most important rule of travel: Don't talk to me. No one wants to talk to a stranger on a plane. We want to watch the movie, catch up on a good book, take a nap, or even just sit quietly and stare ahead. We do not want to talk to you! Sitting next to someone on a plane does not give you the right to talk to them. Simple as that.

Specifically, there are three types of people that will talk to you on a plane.

The first is the creepy old guy that wants to flirt. Gross. I don’t want to talk to you ever. Much less for three hours because I’m the unlucky girl that was assigned to sit next to you. I can only be rude and curt with you for so long before I want to snap.

Then we have the young (may or may not be creepy) guys who want to flirt. In addition, these guys also may or may not be cute, and if you’re one of the cute/non-creepy ones, take warning. We do not want to go on a five hour first date with you when the likelihood is very high that we will never see you again. Too much effort. If the return on my investment ain’t worth it, I ain’t putting it in. So basically, don’t talk to me either. If you happen to be cute, you have a little bit more room. Do not just jump into the conversation while we’re still sitting on the runway. A little small talk (emphasis on the small) now and then is fine, then with a few minutes left in the flight (perhaps 15 or so), you can start the conversation. Get it going, find out just enough to know if either of you want to see the other person again without actually going on the first date. I’m not talking to you for five hours without you buying me some dinner and drinks. This approach gives you both just enough to know that you want a little more.

The last category of people that talk to you is anyone else that talks because they talk too much. Listen! You are annoying! If you find the need to talk to a stranger and tell them your personal stories, you talk too much, and I bet people find you annoying in real life as well! I’m just saying! Strangers on the plane don’t care about your children, your house, your job, etc. I don’t know you and will never see you again. Don’t talk to me.

The planes with their luggage rules have to be my number one annoyance. As a result of most of the major airlines charging for checked bags, no one is checking bags anymore. I’d love to talk to the moron whose grand idea this was! Delta/American Airlines/United/US Airs/etc. Are you reading this? You charge for bags because you need to make more money, and guess what!? People stop checking bags. Duh! Instead you screw over everyone. People who legitimately only need carry-ons are screwed because everyone and their mother is bringing the hugest carry on bag I’ve ever seen. Then, since you aren’t making the revenue you thought this brilliant idea would bring, you start charging for everything else, jacking up the prices on airfare, etc. I’m ready for the day when it costs $5 to use the bathroom. And don’t get me started on the 50 lb limit for bags. Whooo boy!

Here’s the proof that this grand theory isn’t working. I’m on a plane to Seattle right now, from DC. That’s a 6 hour flight. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who take a cross country flight need a checked bag. Well, while I was boarding, the woman taking tickets took the carry on of every person whose final destination was Seattle and checked it. Well, let me correct that. It was more like every person after about half the people had boarded and apparently hogged up the overhead space. “Overhead space is limited” she said. Okay. So, my bag was one of the ones to go under. Do I pick it up at the gate when I get to Seattle? Heck no! I have to pick it up at the baggage claim. I’m only in Seattle for one night! I am getting there at 3 am my time, I do not want to go wait at the baggage claim for my carry on that has one suit, some work out clothes and make up. So, all this proves to me is that the majority of the majority that should have checked a bag, brought a carry one instead. And I can guarantee we wouldn’t have had that problem if it hadn’t cost $15 to check the bag! And you can bet their bags weigh more than 50 lbs! Ugh! Airline management are idiots! It really is no wonder that airlines are going broke. Shouldn’t being the CEO of a major corporation mean you’re intelligent?

Ok, my angry ramblings could go on forever I’m sure, but I’ll leave it at that. It’s 2 am, maybe I can get a little nap in before we land.

Oh, and as one last side note that really gets me worked up. Who are these airports that charge for WiFi? Cheap jerks! There are many airports where it is free, but some choose to charge. Really, how do they sleep at night?

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