A Little Airplane Etiquette

by

Folks, I’ve got nothing really substantive this week. But, Salon had a post today about whether or not it’s okay to give your child Benadryl to sedate them during a long flight, and in response the following letter was posted, which I will reproduce in its entirety because I was rolling.

Annoying People On Planes Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Among those who can irritate you include…

* the drunks who harass the flight attendants
* the idiots who insist on blathering at top volume
* the jackass who hears the ding, and immediately reclines his seat so that his head is in your lap
* the moron in the bulkhead who thinks that the space under his seat — in front of YOUR legs — is HIS storage space
* the person who waits to poop until they get in the plane and then stink and clog up one of the two freakin’ restrooms
* the tired/irritated/attitudinal flight attendants who are so sick to death of all of us passengers and aren’t afraid to show it
* the sullen teenagers listening to their IPOD at full volume
* the person who insists on using 2 armrests
* the idiots with laptops who set them up, and then proceed to use up the airspace of the people on either side with their elbows as they types
* The idiots who bring every piece of luggage they own on with them and insist on stuffing it into every available carryon space
* the guys who watch porn on their laptops/portable DVDs while you’re sitting in the place (yes, they are out there, I’ve seen them
* the truly morbidly obese people who hang over the armrests and take up your space
* the guys who fall asleep and then proceed to snore like a freight train
* the person who falls asleep and whose head ends up bobbing on YOUR shoulder
* the irritating seatmate (chatty old lady? horny single guy? bored business guy who’d rather yak than do his spreadsheets?) who insists on talking to you when you don’t want to talk
* yes, the babies who cry out of discomfort.
* And yes, occasionally, bratty children whose parents are not controlling them

Why are children singled out when there are SO MANY IRRITATING PEOPLE flying these days?

How about we make it equal opportunity discrimination? If irritating kids can’t fly, how about we also ban lonely, horny, chatty, morbidly obese, loudly IPODing, porn-watching passengers, and obnoxious “I’d rather be anywhere else” flight crews?

As someone who flies with children — children who are well-behaved and NOT drugged, and who on rare occasions have cried for a few minutes during a landing — I do concede that there are a few things I think should be done.

First: Do not allow free lap infants. Period. It’s bad enough for everyone, parent included, to have to bring a baby on a plane. Don’t let them do it for free. Make them buy a seat, and put the baby in a carseat. It’s safer, and it’s more fair. If a baby’s going to use up our patience, at least he/she should be a paying passenger.

Second: DO allow the pre-boarding of children. Many airlines are getting rid of this. Ummmm…why???? Hauling a carseat, baby bag, and all the other crap, we NEED to pre-board, so we’re not blocking your way for 10 minutes trying to install the bloody seat and get our kids in their places.

Third: If you can group all the kids in one section of the plane, BE MY GUEST!! Do it! I don’t mind, and frankly, it’d be a relief to be out of earshot and range of the sighing, huffing and puffing buffoons who start grimacing the minute they see me and my kids. Of course, they’re also quite frequently one of the IRRITATING passengers and far more irritating than any child could ever be.

Fourth, and finally: parents, REIN IN YOUR BRATS!!!!

Don’t let them run up and down the aisles.
Don’t let them climb under the seats. (one kid did this from row 33 all the way to first class on a flight I was on.)
Don’t let your kid kick or otherwise hit or disrupt the seat in front of him.
Don’t let your kid bounce on or in his seat.

A personal anecodate. I once sat in the window seat, while a mother let her 3 year old child climb onto my lap, so that Jr. could look out the window.

“Oh, I hope you don’t mind!!?” the hapless mother kept saying.

“Well, I actually really would prefer…”

“Oh, Jr. LOOKIE LOOKIE….see the clouds? LOOK!”

Jr. meanwhile jumps up and down on my thighs in excitement, in his Buster Browns.

He then proceeds back to the middle seat, and, this being the era where they still served actual food on planes, his mother opens up the syrup for his pancakes (yes, she gave syrup to a toddler.)

Toddler covers himself in syrup, and THEN decides it’s time for MORE sightseeing out the window, including using my head as leverage to navigate his way back to MY window.

I was COVERED in syrup by the end of the flight.

That mother, and her child… NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!!!!

So here is where I join the self-righteous boobs.

If you can’t keep your kid quiet and well-behaved, then don’t fly. Again, I’m not talking about a little altitude-induced crying by a baby. But if you have a bratty child who can’t sit still and isn’t going to behave, then drive. Take a bus. Take a boat. But don’t fly.

And above all… don’t sit next to me!!

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10 Responses to “A Little Airplane Etiquette”

  1. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Great letter, obviously done by someone who’s been in the airline trenches many, many times. So many things to say, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. I will only admit, having made and ridden through several thousand landings in large airplanes, that I’ve cried through a few myself.

    I’d love to see what the other “road warriors” have to say.

  2. Michael Lasley Says:

    I’m quite possibly the most anti-social flier I know. I put on my headphones, open up a book, and ignore everyone. Unless there is a REALLY good reason to not do those three things. I’m actually kind of a jerk about it — I rarely talk to the person next to me, even when spoken to, which is actually kind of fun, as long as you don’t mind them saying really rude things to you as you ignore them. Although I do try to respect other people’s space and not nod off on their shoulders. I just don’t go in for small talk with someone I’ll never see again.

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Maybe I’m just in a mood, or maybe it’s because I don’t like to fly, but the only thing I actually found amusing about the letter was that the author finds everyone annoying except people just like her. “Don’t sit next to me,” is the most insightful thing she says.

  4. Sandi Says:

    I just thought the list of annoying people was really funny because I have encountered at least four of those types recently myself. And then the syrup story. I especially hate the people who use your armrest or otherwise invade your personal space so that you have to lean away from them.

    Actually, my very best annoying airplane passenger story was from a few years ago. It was a family — both parents and two teenage kids, a boy and a girl. The girl was probably about 15, the boy about 13. They were sitting behind me, the dad and the son directly behind and the mom and daughter across the aisle. The father treated me (and everyone else within earshot) to a reading from “A Clockwork Orange.” Apparently there are a lot of non-English made-up words in that book, and so after every sentence he would stop and say, “What do you think x means? Well, from the context we can surmise that he is doing y.” And he kept reading and came to a part where an old woman was about to be raped, and I was like, hello, I am a captive audience and I do not want to hear this!

  5. Capt MidKnight Says:

    Amid all the obnoxious people on airplanes, occasionally you do have a happy surprise. I’ve ridden next to Country Western singer Charlie Rich and golfer Loren Roberts, both of whom were real gentlemen – and I hope I wasn’t too much of a bore.

    One of my most interesting, however, was a few years ago. I got on at Nashville going to Dallas and somehow got a first class window seat. A few minutes later, a very striking, very blonde young lady took the aisle seat next to me. As it turned out, she was an ex Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Before the ladies begin to roll their eyes, she was working for a telecommunications company and was quite intelligent and well spoken. For some reason,I ask her if, given her looks and her background as a professional cheerleader, she was often underestimated by her male business associates. She just smiled and said “All the time.”

    I got the impression that, if necessary, she could be a pretty tough cookie.

    A very pleasant 1 1/2 hour flight. Made up for a lot of morons.

  6. Michael Lasley Says:

    That’s classic, Sandi. Unfortunate, of course, but classic — your being forced to listen to a book that is a 200 or so page treatise on the merits of free will.

    Juvenal — you’re in a mood. (Smiley face emoticon here.)

    The only suggestion I didn’t like was about paying for babies on a plane. I’m not sure why people get so upset about babies. I always feel bad for them that they are upset and crying. And that’s not because I’m like this extra-caring person as much as my just being blessed with some gene that can handle the crying of babies. It just doesn’t bother me too much. Not nearly as much as the other stuff on the list.

  7. Sandi Says:

    I agree, Mikey. I always feel sorry for babies because I remember my first flight (at age 8) when I hadn’t learned how to pop my ears yet and how painful it was. I still start to panic if I can’t manage to clear the pressure, although once I learned the holding your nose and blowing out trick that problem has been eliminated.

    I once saw two parents with four small children (seriously, they were like a year apart each) whose two-year old DID NOT want to get on the plane. He held onto the doors as they tried to get him inside and screamed and screamed. I felt so bad for him, imagining that he must be really scared of flying. He finally fell asleep soom after the plane took off and didn’t make another peep for the rest of the flight.

    However, the children who gleefully kick your seat — another story entirely. 🙂

  8. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I thought paying for babies was a sensible suggestion. Actually, I didn’t know babies rode free, and never would’ve guessed it. Do they have to be “declared” in advance, somehow, or can you just show up with septuplets and climb aboard?

    Like the author, I’m surprised flying with a child in your lap isn’t some kind of safety issue. Maybe Britney should buy a plane and just fly to the market.

  9. Whitney Says:

    Juvenal…LOL! Seriously, I think babies should be in safety seats. Turbulence…hello.

    Sandi, Loved the article. I’ve come in contact with a bunch of the people posted on the list. Luckily, however, most of my flights are pretty easy. And I’m just so, so, so happy to never have experienced porta-porno man. That would freak me out at a whole new level. On my last flight, I did experience super snorer. The guy was at least 10 rows back and he was certainly the only one sleeping. :0) Lucky for me, I can’t sleep on planes, anyway.

    Thanks for a good laugh.

  10. Michael Lasley Says:

    Under 2 yrs. old and you ride for free is the rumor. I think you do have to tell ’em about it, though. I’m not sure why they are allowed (or made) to be held in a lap. Doesn’t make much sense other than money-wise — they don’t take up a seat so they aren’t charged for one.

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