Long gone are the days of refined airline travel. Passengers no longer put on a tie to fly, children are no longer in their Sunday best for flights and the refined cabin environment has largely gone the way of the dodo bird.
Despite the changes in airline travel, the need for common courtesy and etiquette in flight should not be jettisoned like dirty blue lavatory water. There are so many twists and turns in travel courtesy, quite a few I have written about over the years, and tonight two things reminded me that maybe travelers need a reminder.
While standing at Gate 6, at New York’s JFK International Airport Terminal 1, waiting to board my flight tonight I spent a few minutes flipping through Facebook and found a post from a flight attendant friend that horrified me. No, there was no headless passenger bleeding all over a seat, but in this photo, which is posted at the end of this post, is an airliner window covered in children’s stickers.
As the father of three kids, I know how hard it can be to entertain kids, especially when they are in a confined space … but a parent allowing their child to cover the wall of an aircraft in stickers is beyond unacceptable. I’d love to know what the parent watching this child was thinking. Do these parents allow their kids to cover the inside of their car, or living room wall, in stickers? Even worse, if you look at the bottom of the photo, the family has left trash all over the seating area.
Flight attendants have a very hard job. Dealing with passengers isn’t so easy and the glamour of being a Pan Am Stewardess in the 1960s has vanished just like the airline has. Worse than that, from an economic stand point, flight attendants are not paid for their time on the ground. The time a flight attendant spends cleaning up an aircraft on the ground with the door open is not time they are paid for. The time spent standing in the door welcome passengers, that is not paid time, they are paid when that door shuts, so whatever unlucky flight attendant ended up with this mess, had to clean it up off the clock. You think the parent who allowed their child to do this would spend the time cleaning the mess up off the clock?
As annoyed as the photo below made me, my annoyance meter went through the roof as I sat in seat 29A, the seat I am sitting in right now as I type this on board Air France Flight 009, as my seatmate took her seat. A seatmate did not bother me, nor was I even really bothered by being whacked by her bag twice as she swung around to put it in the overhead bin.
What annoyed me is this; she took her shoes and socks off.
Passengers taking their shoes off on flights doesn’t bother me. On this six hour and fifty minute flight my shoes are off, but socks? A passenger should never take their socks off. For starters, her feet legitimately do have an odor, not to mention that there are sanitary considerations. Who knows what is on this floor?
Adding insult to foul odor injury, 45 minutes after we lifted off from JFK on the midnight flight to Paris. I was leaning against the wall, hoping to get a few hours of rest when I felt a few solid taps on my arm. The woman, whom I do not know, woke me up for the beverage service. By the time I woke up the cart was two rows past us and now here I am wide awake, with 2 hours left in my flight unable to go back to sleep,
So here I sit, awake, over tired, pressed up against a wall with a stranger slumped over on my right shoulder. Adding further insult to injury, the woman in seat 29B tucked her pillow behind my shoulder and has fallen asleep on me. I have tried to move her, but no such luck.
If I was lacking the courtesy that I seem to see around me all the time, I’d probably elbow the woman in seat 29B in the head and say ‘oops,’ but what good would that do?
… see photo below for how thrilled I am with my seatmate (WARNING : IT IS A TERRIBLY UNFLATTERING PHOTO OF ME)
Maybe it is the lack of sleep and the uncomfortable seat that is making me into the grumpy guy who originally started this blog post with “Dear @$$hole, What are you thinking,” but somehow travelers need to remember that airports and airplanes are not their private do-as-you-will spaces and return to the common sense we should have all had instilled in us as children …
… unless your parents let you slap stickers all over the inside of an airport as a kid.