To cross the world used to take months on steam ships and now we can do it in a day while making poor food choices and watching movies. It’s an amazing time to be alive. Air travel has made the world smaller – it has also made a new venue in which to have awkward moments with strangers from around the world. If you’re like us, then you bring a book while traveling, but wind up people watching instead.
Of course, people are weird (us included) and so shoving us all into a can in the sky can create some odd encounters. Let’s go through a little list of airborne etiquette – from bathroom sockers to plane farters to aisle pushers to spring boarders:
- the back of my arm and your foot need not ever meet. If they do touch once by accident, switch your position. My armrest is for my arm.
- plane farters – stop it! You’re not stealthy. You’re not getting away with it. We know it’s you. Your crimes linger around you like a stinky cloud of shame declaring to all, “unclean, unclean”. The cushion doesn’t absorb it and yes we all smell it.
- ever sat in front of a spring boarder? This is the person who uses the back of your chair to pull themselves along. Sometimes they do this to get themselves up and out of their chair. As they do so, they pull you back like a small marble being loaded into a sling shot. Once they’re on their feet, they release, propelling you forward. They often do this right as you are drifting-off to sleep so that you are catapulted from almost sleep into full consciousness.
- barefoot / sock-footed bathroom users. Consider this: people from all over the world use airplane toilets and yet toilets all over the world look and function differently. It leaves room for user error. Add in that some folks struggle with aim on the ground – mix in turbulence and that bathroom floor is slick for all of the wrong reasons. Don’t absorb it with your socks.
- picture this: it’s a long-haul flight and most of the plane is sleeping or trying to sleep. Time changes and travel have thrown everyone into some state of exhausted. The airlines understand this and so the cabin lights are dimmed. Without fail, somewhere around hour 12 of your 15 hour flight, there will be a non-sleeper seated next to a window who throws open their window shade to allow the full force of the sun to beam directly into my face. We don’t mind the occasional peek (we get it, you need to see if we’re still above the clouds), but for the love of all that is fluffy, please put the shade back down after you look!
- overhead bins are shared space. Accept that.
- we’re parents. We have kids. We understand that flying with kids can be a challenge. I don’t need your kids to be perfectly behaved, I just want to see that you are trying. Watching a film while your kid practices kickboxing on the back of my chair does not count as engaged parenting.
- picture this – the plane has landed. We’re all excited to move all of our limbs. The seat belt sign turns off and we all stand to retrieve our things. That’s when the elbow hits you and you feel someone pushing past you. Yes, it’s an aisle pusher trying to force their way upstream and closer to the door. Like the majestic salmon at spawning season, this aisle pusher bounces off everything and anything in their pursuit of freedom. We’re in row 74 and there are multiple cabins ahead of us. No one is going anywhere – yet. Make your peace with this.