Yes it is time again for me to mount The Soap Box. You know the one. Where I relieve myself of my frustrations about travel, yeah that one. I’ve written a similar post called It was inevitable…. The Soap Box, read it here. Although these are my opinions, my frustrations and ultimately my bitching; I am going to guess that you too have experienced these travel frustrations yourself. Why do I write about these things? My hope is that maybe someone will read it and have an AHA moment and say to themselves, that sort of resembles me. Of course leading them to change their behavior significantly, making future travel for them and me a happier experience. It also helps me to let these things go, hopefully changing my outlook as well.
Is that too much to ask? I think not! I have said it before, but will again. When you decide to board a plane for some exciting and exotic destination such as Paris, Texas, that is what we call Usropean Travel. You have made a decision to free yourself of your expectations of privacy and personal space. But you have also taken on the responsibility of respecting what little privacy and personal space your fellow travelers have while jammed into a flying tube. By that I mean we have to recognize that the amount of personal space around us will shrink once your aboard that plane. Often people seem to forget that.
So here I go, with your help we will both have a pleasant experience in the future. If you see me on the plane, say Hi.
Did you get the part above about flying in a tube. Sound carries, in fact it seems to just shoot right down that tube for everyone to hear. Privacy is an expensive commodity on a plane, perhaps it would be a good idea to drop your voice a few decibels while chatting with your new found friend. As much as I, and other travelers enjoying hearing about your unfortunate bout of food poisoning and the adverse affect your body has had because of it, really it’s ok to lower your voice, your friend will be able to hear you just fine. If your seat mate doesn’t appear to hear you, it’s because they don’t want to hear you.
Ok this one is not specific to travel I suppose and it does sort of go hand in hand with the LOUD TALKERS. You know back in the 80’s when Cell Phones first hit the marketplace, I had one of the first Motorola Brick Phones. Wow, was I cool, of course wearing it on your belt would nearly pull my pants down, but that may be another post for another day. With that big old phone you had to nearly yell for people to hear you on the other end. Back then phones didn’t have noise canceling software to block out the background noise around you, so you had to talk loud to get through. The good news is that today’s highly sophisticated Cell Phones do have that software, so you don’t have to yell into the phone.
Take a walk through any airport; watch and listen to people talking. They believe you have to talk very loud for the other person to hear them. Unfortunately what they may not know is that the person on the other end of the call, their phone also has new software which automatically adjusts the sound coming in so that it isn’t too loud, essentially canceling each other out. Ok, enough of the technical details. How about helping all of us out and just lower your voice. And please, please I implore you not to use your phone when your in the public restroom, well any restroom for that matter. You know we can hear all thats going on around you, and no one wants to hear that.
This has to be my biggest pet peeve. I understand the role of TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and I am happy to have them looking out for my safety along with countless others. In today’s world, this is an inevitable and unfortunate addition to travel, but one that can not be dismissed or simply eliminated. Extensive Airport Security is with us for the rest of our days. So instead of fighting it, why not embrace it and learn how to navigate the process? My real complaint here is not that we have to live with this, it is how completely inconsistent and at times incompetent the TSA’s process is. If I go through security in one Airport and have to remove my belt, jewelry, shoes and my inhibitions, then shouldn’t I have to do the exact same thing in the next Airport? Why, someone please tell me why that is not the case. There isn’t a week that goes by when traveling to multiple Airports that the rules are different. How is that secure? I promise to follow your rules Mr. and Mrs. TSA Agent, but you need to promise to make those rules consistent for all Airports and TSA Personnel. And you Mr. and Mrs. TSA Agent you need to remember that I and the majority of other travelers are U.S. Citizens who expect to be treated with some dignity and respect. If you don’t like how we treat you, look in the mirror and ask if you can do something different in order to get a different reaction or result.
Where have you been the last 10 years?
10 years ago the Travel Industry changed forever. No more walking through airports with ease, no more walking your child to the gate and hanging out with them before their flight, no more packing whatever you want, including the kitchen sink, knives, guns and explosives. Now we have segregated airports, travelers and non travelers sections. And we have rules about that kitchen sink and other items. Don’t you dare try to bring any liquids that weigh more than 3oz. In fact if you have a tube of toothpaste that states it weighs 4.5 oz; but is more than half empty, don’t even think about bringing it. Don’t buy that expensive bottle of water or coffee just as your entering security, you will have to throw it away or drink it down, wait until you reach the other side, ah the other side where the light resides.
Come on people it’s been 10 years since many of these changes have been enacted. Even if you only fly once a year, surely you know the rules, you’ve had opportunities to learn the rules. You can help yourself and all the others behind you at security if you just take a moment and refresh your knowledge of the rules, you can read them by clicking here. Then carefully plan your strategy to get through security; before you get to security. Wear slip on shoes, don’t wear a belt if you can, take off your jewelry before you get in line, empty your pockets, make sure toiletries are in fact in a 1 quart clear plastic bag, not a gallon bag, ONE QUART and only one bag per person. Remove your laptop from your bag, don’t wear a hat or jacket. This might seem a bit harsh, but really if you can master this you will enjoy the process of getting through security so much more, I promise it will be painless and faster for you.
The Gate Line Up
This is where travel meets the Wild, Wild West. It’s a shoot out for a seat, in fact perhaps thats what they should do. A quick shoot out to see who gets first position in line to board the plane. I always find this to be a very interesting proposition. With the exception of Southwest Airlines, you all probably have an assigned seat, it won’t disappear on you, of course even Southwest has a boarding protocol. The majority of the domestic airlines have a boarding process too, you have a seat position, or boarding zone etc. But one thing is for sure, disabled and families traveling with children under the age of 5 will be asked to board first, then first class (if your airline has first class), then the airlines frequent flyer members, then the boarding zones. So it really isn’t necessary to rush the gate to get on the plane. It will go much easier and faster if everyone follows the protocol of the airline your traveling. One more thing, if there are people lined up at the gate, don’t pretend they’re not there and step in line ahead of them, it’s rude, get in line.
Scott’s Tip: Even if you only fly once a year, apply for that airlines frequent flyer program. If nothing else you’ll get preferred boarding, it may also get you some perks for reduced checked luggage fees. It’s free and it’s worth the effort.
Ok this is a complaint and a wish list. Please stop grabbing my chair from behind to help you get out of your seat. When you do that, you pull my seat back and frankly annoy the hell out of me. I may be sleeping, or working, so just don’t do it. Take your time, plant your feet, place both of your hands on your own hand rests and push yourself up. Don’t be so lazy. Here is my wish list: I would like all future planes to come with Chair Ejectors, that way these people will not have to pull my seat down, they can just simply push a button and POW, your up and out of your seat. So if any Airline Executives are reading this blog, please look into this. Thank you.
Thank you all for allow me to vent my frustrations I will now step down from my soap box. If you know people who do these things, or you are one of these people who do these things, please forward this to your friends or read it again. I look forward to seeing you on my next flight. If you see a guy typing on his computer feverishly, be careful it might be me writing about the next annoying thing you’ve done.