Let me preface this post by saying I love my job and I am grateful for all of the experiences it affords me. I get to travel all over the country; eat in great restaurants; take in amazing sights; and meet interesting people. For example, yesterday I was in Chicago, speaking at the annual Pelvic Health Conference. I stayed at an amazing hotel and made the most of it, waking up early and walking the streets of Chicago – beginning with Michigan Avenue. It was such a pleasure.
Of course, the travel means being away from family more than I would like. It also means putting up with a lot of travel-related frustrations: cancelled and delayed flights, 3:30am wake up calls, cramped hotel rooms, bad airport food, etc.
You’ve heard of the quantified self. Well, that extends beyond the fitness devices that one wears to track exercise and sleep. I use data from Foursquare to get a sense of my travel patterns. According to my check ins on Foursquare, in the past 60 days, I have visited 39 different airports and stayed in 31 different hotels. I’m currently in my 12th straight week of business travel. I’ve checked in at my home airport, RDU International, 51 times over the last 60 days (twice a day if it is just a day trip). That represents 26 distinct trips. Here’s a graphic that shows some of the airports that I have frequented over the last 2 months.
It goes without saying that I have ample opportunity to observe the occasional misguided behaviors of other travelers. (Often I am exhausted and short on patience as I witness their misdeeds.) So I have put together this list of helpful air travel etiquette tips! (Feel free to add your own tips by submitting comments to this post.)
- As you are sitting at the gate, preparing to board your flight, take a moment to organize yourself and your possessions. If there are items you will need to pull out of your carry-on luggage, do so at this time rather than when you are on the plane. Doing it on the plane means that you will block the aisle, impeding others who are trying to board.
- If you are in Zone 3, 4 or 5 for boarding, please don’t crowd around the gate blocking other travelers from boarding the plane. Your seat on the plane isn’t going anywhere. (By the way, this behavior is similar to people at Starbucks waiting for the Barista to make their drink.)
- If your carry-on luggage weighs so much that you can’t physically hoist it up into the overhead compartment on your own, check the bag!
- If you are going to drink more than one beer on a flight, don’t reserve a window seat. An aisle seat will be far more convenient for everyone involved as you make your frequent trips to the bathroom.
- When the flight attendant says that your smaller items should go under the seat in front of you, she means it. That includes you business travelers. Don’t put your carry-on luggage, briefcase and suit coat all in the overhead compartment. That’s bad form. And you’re slowing everything down because you’re using up all the overhead space and creating a nightmare for those who board after you.
- If you need to get up and move around during the flight, don’t grab the seat in front of you for leverage as you attempt to pry yourself from your seat. It is unnecessary and rattles the person seated in front of you. I recommend using your arm rests for support.
- If you feel the need to paint your nails during the flight, don’t! The fresh fingernail polish will gas out everyone on the plane. Be courteous. Your fellow travelers should not have to pay the price for your poor planning.
- When the plane lands, don’t jump up from your seat and charge toward the front of the plane. Good travel etiquette means allowing those seating in front of you to precede you. Again, be courteous.
- When you exit the jet bridge into the terminal, don’t stop. Keep walking. If you and your family all stop, you block everyone exiting the jet bridge.
I know that you don’t perpetrate any of this misdeed. So tell me, what annoys you about air travel? Time for me to go. I’ve got to catch a flight to Cincinnati; then on to Raleigh-Durham.