We here at Quick Whit Travel want to be responsible, kind, happy travelers. But sometimes the lack of sleep, ravenous hunger, and being cut off in line really get to us! Preparation is definitely key here, and thinking about the reactions you’d like to have in probable situations can be very helpful. Here are some scenarios we’ve actually experienced and how we dealt (or should have) dealt with them.
Create Overhead Bin Space
If you can fit all your carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you, do so. Honestly, I like having all my stuff within arm’s reach! If something is in the overhead bin, I’m going to want it when I’m in the window seat and the seatbelt sign is still illuminated! On a recent flight from LAX to IAD (Washington, DC), they ran out of overhead bin space and asked people to put their carry-on under the seat in front of them if possible. I told the flight attendant that I didn’t mind doing that, and she handed my backpack to me. No big deal to me, and maybe we got to pull away and take off faster! And someone got to keep their carry-on with them instead of checking it planeside and having to wait at baggage claim for it when we landed!
Move to the Back
No one really likes to sit in the back. It’s true. But sometimes, especially on smaller planes, weight distribution matters a LOT! Be willing to move to the back, especially if you’re traveling solo, and especially if there’s only one class on the plane–all the seats are the same size! Small planes don’t usually make flights of more than a couple of hours, so it won’t hurt anything to be a few rows back, especially if it means you’ll get off the ground and at your destination faster!
When there are weather delays, there really are limited options that airline staff can give you. Pack your patience and be nice to the person who holds your fate (the airline employee). If your plane is delayed due to storms or snow, lots of other people’s flights are, too. You may get lucky and get the last flight out, or you may have to stay in the airport overnight. Either way, a good attitude will be better for everyone around you (and yourself, too). Yelling, sighing loudly, and threatening airline customer service representatives will get you absolutely nothing. It will also rile up and/or annoy everyone else in the same situation as you! Be kind.
They’re tiny, they’re often hard, and they are usually all taken up by the people on either side of you if you’re in the middle seat! If you really want the armrest, ask the person next to you if you can share (not if they can share). They will likely say sure and possibly even apologize for hogging it. Or they could ignore you and say no. If that’s the case, suck it up and squeeze those elbows in tight! It’s not forever, it just might seem like it for a while!
Be courteous. Ask if it’s ok with your rowmates to open or close the shade. If the person next to you is trying to sleep, please let them sleep without light in their eyes! If someone is trying to watch TV and your open shade is causing terrible glare, keep it closed. If you need the window open for any reason, let the people next to you know that (you get claustrophobic with a closed window, you need to stay awake so you can get your body synced to a new timezone, etc.), and ask if they are ok with that. They probably will be. If not, suck it up and be the bigger rowmate–you can handle it!
Sympathy for Nervous Fliers
If you fly often enough, you start to get numbed to the turbulence and the routine of flying. But at some point in your life, you were a first-time and/or nervous flyer, too! Please save the dirty looks, eye rolling, big sighs of frustration, and condescension for another time! They are already nervous, so making them feel bad about it won’t help.
It’s their job to get everyone onboard and seated with luggage in the overhead bins before the flight takes off, and you can make their job a little easier (and get yourself in the air faster) by putting your carry-on away and possibly others’ carry-ons as well, within reason. You don’t have to go up and down the aisles looking for luggage to heft, but if the person next to you or across the aisle needs a little help, your offering it could get you to your destination sooner. Also, get in your seat as soon as you can! Be aware of the people behind you, and don’t take up aisle space if you could be sitting down and letting people pass.
“Say Please” and “Thank You”
Your mother was right–you should always say “please” and “thank you!” Flight attendants will be nicer to you if you’re nice to them, and it’s been my experience that if the people around me are kinder, I am more likely to be kinder. So start the ripple effect and be the first to be kind.
Don’t Judge Luggage
The other day, I lined up and boarded a plane behind a guy with THREE carry-on bags. You’re only allowed to have two–one “carry-on” and one “personal item.” I’m a rule follower, so it irritates me when people do things like cut in line or listen to videos in public without ear phones, or bring more than the correct number of carry-on items. But you know, it’s not my responsibility. I knew my carry-on and personal items would fit under my seat. The bags were all small, and none of the airline employees mentioned it to him, so I let it go. And if you’re like me, you can, too!
Seriously, what could you possibly be doing in that tiny bathroom for 20 minutes? Please be kind to everyone onboard and get in and out quickly! You can’t help how long anyone else takes in there, but you can control how much time you spend in there yourself.
Kids–Have or Have Not
I don’t know anyone who LOVES traveling with their kids. I also don’t know anyone who loves traveling with anyone else’s kids onboard. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Maybe those people with kids are moving, going to a family member’s funeral, or simply have to take their child with them in order to travel. Hopefully they know how to calm their child in a small public space, but sometimes kids are unpredictable. We were all kids once, embarrassing our parents in public. Try and be understanding, and remember it won’t last forever! And maybe bring earplugs if you’ll be on a long-haul flight.
Give Up Your Seat So a Couple or Family Can Sit Together
Usually couples and families sit together on flights. For parents and kids, it’s just easier to keep the kids in line. For couples, it’s because they like each other! Only once have I ever witnessed someone saying “no” when a woman asked if she could change seats with a man so she could sit with her husband. I was mortified just as an onlooker! But if you’re traveling along and someone asks to change seats to be with a loved one (in the same seating class), please do it! I’ve been very grateful a couple of times when my husband and I got separated for one reason or another and someone was willing to change seats so we could sit together, and I’ve been happy to return the favor a few times when traveling alone!
Everyone Goes Off Their Game Sometimes
To round out this list, we all have “off” days. If you can’t think of a time you had an “off day,” that probably means you’re due! Please be kind so that when your time comes, maybe someone will be nice to you. So be patient when someone seems to lack any self-awareness. Let that person in front of you know their backpack is unzipped, and offer to zip it for them. Ask for a beverage politely–and smile!–when the over-worked flight attendant inadvertantly skips you for beverage service. Kindness begets kindness when YOU mess up!
What do you think? How can you travel better from someone else’s perspective?