Monday, February 23, 2015

It's just plane manners

I dread flying. Any flight more than four hours is pure agony for me. My eyes get tired and scratchy from watching movies or reading but I can't sleep, no matter what I do. There's only so much I can eat and drink, and my entire body aches from being cramped in a narrow seat. The couple of times I've flown Business and even First Class were wonderful, but I'm usually herded in with 98% of the passengers on the plane and have to make the best of the situation I'm in. We all do, so I'm amazed that many passengers are so clueless about what's proper behavior when flying. Isn't it just common sense and plain courtesy?

There is a limit to the number of carry-on bags passengers can bring on board. I try to make do with one backpack where everything goes inside and I can fit it under the seat in front of me so that it's accessible during the flight. But I've seen people bringing 3 or 4 bags of varying sizes, not to mention bags of duty-free items as well. They then proceed to fill up the overhead compartment above their seats, with the result that others can no longer store their stuff up there. On occasion, I've also seen people moving other people's bags somewhere else so that they can place their stuff right above them.

My cousin's husband, J, is a huge Scotsman, well over 6 feet but he's trim. His pet peeve when flying is to be seated next to someone who's so overweight that they spill into the adjoining seat. In his Scottish brogue, J proclaims, "They should be buying two seats to contain their own fat!" I've had the misfortune of sitting next to overweight people as well, but what I really can't get is why passengers (even normal-sized ones) sit in airplane seats as if they were on their own living room sofa, with their elbows and legs nudging way past their own space and seat rest.

I do realize that airline seats are narrow and cramped but it doesn't mean that when passengers are getting out of their seats they have to grab and clutch onto the seat in front of them. I've had my head hit and my hair yanked on practically every flight I've been on. One reason I don't like sitting by the window is that a foot with its accompanying leg from the back (often without socks) often creeps over in that space between the seat and the window. I also feel sorry for passengers with long legs. I've seen seats in the front suddenly recline without warning, jamming into the knees of the person behind.

We've all had to endure screaming kids on board a flight. I feel for parents who have to deal with a fractious child. I often wish I could scream in frustration like the kid too. What bothers me is when one parent (usually the mother) has to deal with the child all through the flight while the other parent is totally oblivious or chooses not to care. Loud children I can sort of handle, but not loud grown-ups. People who talk at (not to) each other in voices others can hear three rows down. All night. Or play Angry Birds on their device. Without headphones.

Needless to say, when it's time to disembark, it's usually mayhem. Everyone is busy turning on their mobile devices even when we're told not to. There are passengers who will push and shove their way to get ahead only to be held back by everyone else trying to leave. I don't understand why, when we've all already endured a 12-hour flight, it's so difficult to wait just a few minutes more. Those who are rushing for a connecting flight can simply inform the crew members who will put them ahead. The rest of us can surely wait for the passengers in front of us to get up and leave first.

Don't get me started on the toilets. I wonder what these people do to their own toilets at home, to leave the airplane toilet in such a filthy state. My heart goes out to the plane crew who have to deal with all these horrible messes, and still remain calm and smile at everyone.

I guess what it all comes down to, when considering what is the proper etiquette when flying, is to show some respect and understanding. It's not so hard to treat others the way I would want to be treated myself. I once had to endure a long flight across the Pacific with a little boy behind me who kept kicking my chair. After a while, when I decided to turn around to tell his parents to kindly control their child, I realized that he was traveling alone. He must have been only 7 or 8. Later, at the baggage carousel, I heard the stewardess who accompanied him asking him how many bags he had. He said he didn't know. Asked what his bag looked like, he again said he didn't know. He looked so woeful. Then she kindly told him, "Don't worry, we'll ask your mummy when we see her, okay?" From their conversation, I gathered that his parents had split up and he was shuttling between both homes. Flying long distances is miserable for me, but for some, it must be unimaginably painful.

1 comment: