I love to fly, and it takes a lot to really tick me off in an airline/travel situation.When I first sat down to compose this post, I thought I would have a symmetrical list – five “do’s” and five “don’ts.” Turns out I have a few more pet peeves about flight (and airports) than I realized.
1. Unless you are talking a fellow physician through a lifesaving brain surgery that you alone know how to do and you just can’t make it in time, do not walk around blathering loudly to the air (even though you are really talking to your Bluetooth, which we can’t see). The details of your latest colonoscopy do not thrill me. Actually, they repulse me.
2. If it has been ten or more years since you raised your own children, and you find the words, “When I was raising my kids, I never would have [insert offending action here, maybe “let that child run with a lollipop in their mouth”], just don’t say it. It’s stressful enough traveling with young children. Being critiqued doesn’t help one bit.
3. Don’t take pictures of things that you find interesting that will be hysterically funny in your blog if there is a sign posted nearby that says, “No photos.” I don’t think the TSA is kidding about that and I am probably bitter that I can’t take pictures of the hysterically funny stuff so I don’t want you to be able to either (and I don’t want you to get arrested!).
4. Don’t keep your cell phone on after the flight crew tells you to turn it off. Nothing is that important. I don’t understand the science of why that may bring the plane down but I really don’t want to be the guinea pig. It can wait.
5. If you see a child doing something that you find irritating, or acting out in a way to which your first reaction may be: “why can’t those parents control their child?” remember that although there are certainly children out there whose problems can be resolved via tougher discipline, some children have disorders that cause them to behave in ways that attract attention and that are exacerbated by unusual situations and the stress of traveling. Will it really kill you to walk on by and carry on with your travel plans? Or even to say to that child’s parent or caretaker, “sounds like a rough day – hope the rest of your trip goes smoothly.”
6. Respect the fact that people who are traveling to other places speak other languages. They may have to ask the staff person the same question twice and have the answer repeated until they comprehend it. Cut them a break.
7. If you feel like tweeting, Facebooking, or otherwise socialmediaing something like, “crap – of course I got seated next to the crying infant – great birth control!” it’s certainly your right to do it (I do my share of venting via Twitter too). But even though your tweet won’t be read by the baby’s parent or, duh, by the baby, I can tell you that as someone who has had to travel with an infant by myself, when I see something like that it plants more seeds of dread inside me about my eventual travel plans. Empathy is a good thing. (Empathy and earplugs.)
8. Dole out as many compliments to airport staff as complaints. If someone goes the extra mile or even approaches their job as if they are happy to be there, let them know you appreciate that. Undoubtedly they get a LOT of nastiness. Good should be recognized.
9. Lend a hand to a parent of young children if they are juggling a stroller, three carry on bags, a toddler or two, and a latte. They need the latte. Trust me on this.
10. Despite the frustrations of the current state of air travel in our nation and our world, try to take a deep breath and soak in the majesty of the atmosphere.