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Airplane Etiquette

Really, any enclosed space can serve as a microcosm of society at large. Planes, then, offer a fast-moving microcosm that has, over time, increased in efficiency and anomie. (Just google something basic, like, "kicked off plane," and you'll find a whole rack of anomic examples.)

I fly fairly often, being a lover of travel (typically yolo af travel which isn't really conducive to my plan to retire at 35 which is in, oh, 5 months) and being in a "long-distance" relationship. So, while I've got my own personal travel routine down to an exact science, the fact remains that I'm not yet flying on private jets, away from sky-high genpop, although I wouldn't want to leave a greater carbon footprint than I already am. I have met amazing people on my flights, some of whom I remain in contact with to this day, years later! With one in particular did I share a matching pair of rolling eyes at another who was severely lacking in airplane etiquette (Hi, Alice!). It was the very beginning of our friendship.

Without further ado, my rules for airplane etiquette, which to some may seem obvious, but, well, you'd be surprised. And if you're one of these people, come on, bro.

1. The overhead bins are for carry-on LUGGAGE. Luggage means the things with wheels and a retractable handle. People be putting their jackets and small backpacks up there, or shopping bags (wtf). These are things that could easily go under the seat in front of you, based simply on size. Don't overvalue your feet. And don't make people ask you to move your shit. It's a waste of vocal energy.

2. De-plane when it's your turn. I know I should take the higher road and let it go, but I very rarely do. I can't tell you how many times I've forced myself in front of someone who was in the row behind me (or farther!) who was trying to exit before the people in front of them have exited their row. That's right, I take it upon myself to check them. Maybe the only exception is when the plane is delayed af and they make announcements asking us to allow people with tight connections to pass. I don't mind complying with that.

3. Personal space. I'm not talking about anything having to do with people who are overweight, because big people need love and an airplane seat, too. I'm talking about elbows, knees, toes, and all. of. your. shit. The other day, this regular-sized woman had her elbow damn near in between my 6th and 7th ribs. Granted, I think she was avoiding the man with the hacking cough on the other side, but she had the ability to squeeze into herself just a tad more, and she chose to not use it. There's only so much room for me to snuggle up to the window before I'm slamming my forehead against the window like I'm bird boxing myself.

4. Turn your music the fuck down. Am I getting old? Yes. But no matter what age I am, nobody is trying to listen to your music. I mean, are you even really trying to listen to it? Cause at that decibel level, you're really just harming yourself. Love yourself and your eardrums more and take it from a 50 to a 6.

5. Brush up on social cues. This isn't junior high or a sixth date between two immature adults. People are really not trying to play hard to get on these flights. If someone avoids eye contact and/or responds to every question of yours with one word answers or perhaps not even a word, but a noise that can't be accurately spelled out, chances are you're being a nuisance. Read a book. Bring a journal and write silently. Make a bullet-point note in your phone so you can make your next session with your therapist more streamlined.

6. Let them pee. This one's a three-part admonition. 1) I totally sympathize with people whose stomachs are ravaged for whatever reason and are dealing with emergency situations (i.e., vomiting or diarrhea or whatever else I could have possibly left out). But it's also a fact that people like to take their sweet-ass time in the lavatories, knowing damn well that there's a growing line of bladders about to explode out there. I personally force my urine out as fast as possible when it's my turn because I and my bladder know what it's like to wait forever. Maybe to save even more time, I skip the washing my hands part, too, but that's our dirty little secret. Literally dirty. 2) I believe that sitting in the aisle seat comes with a greater responsibility than the middle or the window. Why does that sentence sound like the beginning of a pageant answer? Anyway, the aisle sitter must recognize that s/he has two plane-mates trapped, and while this level of power can be intoxicating if you're a narcissist or you've got nothing else going on in your life, be a gracious captor and be mindful of your row-hostages' potential need to go to the bathroom at some point. There was at least one time I was in the aisle seat when I actually told people to feel free to crawl over me if I were asleep. 3) I just needed to vent about this one - I was in diarrhea mode, which wasn't being broadcast to everyone on the plane of course, but I got up to use the lavatory, and some dude saw me get up, hurried to get up himself, and cut in front of me! The flight attendants were like "wtf" with their eyes, and offered me a drink or a snack while I waited. To that guy, you're a loser.

I feel like I should end this on a more positive note because apparently this has the capacity to trigger a bitch. Communication is key! I believe this to my core. I also believe that there's always more room to speak to someone with kindness and compassion and to advocate for what you need, especially in an enclosed space. But if that doesn't work, show them this post.



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