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October 8, 2008

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Airplane Etiquette

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Iaorana! Iím visiting some incredibly beautiful tropical islands right now and I donít have a lot of Internet time. So instead of our usual travel story this week, Iím going to share an article that I recently wrote for MedjetAssist (see Website of the Week). Iím pretty sure that anyone who travels will find it useful. Plus, Sarah Kozer takes us to Big Bear, California and finally, this week weíve got some useful information for travelers about fighting the flu. If you want to stay healthy while youíre on the go, check out this information from the Center for Disease Control.

As I write this, Iím flying over Detroit on my way to Los Angeles from New York. Iíve decided to write about airplane etiquette because more than a few things have irked me on this four and a half hour flight. For starters, Iím sitting in the first row of economy and the pilot just got on the PA and requested that everyone take their seats and put their seatbelts on, including the flight attendants. So you know weíre about to go through some rough air. Well, what do you know? Just a minute later, a line for the bathroom, which is right in front of me, forms. Itís longer now than it has been the whole flight. What the heck?! This doesnít make any sense and a flight attendant just got on the PA to reiterate the instructions. But passengers still arenít listening.

Listen up, people! I dated a flight attendant for four years and believe me I know what bothers them most. Not listening to crew instructions has to be their number one pet peeve; itís also a felony offense. As the announcement stated, the seatbelt sign isnít on just for your safety, but for the safety of others around you. If one of those people had landed on me when the plane hit an air pocket, you know I would have given them an extra elbow, just to knock some sense into them.

Another annoyance on this flight: excessive headphone noise. Yes, weíve all experienced it -- on the subway, on the bus and now on the plane. Everyone in the world seems to have an iPod and some just donít have a clue how much noise the earbuds emit. Iím seated in 19A and the dude in 19F, six seats and an aisle away, has his music so loud that I can hear every beat. Unfortunately, heís listening to hardcore rap, which I donít care for so itís really annoying and, I might add, rude. If he wasnít three times my size and didnít have that gangbanger tattoo on his elbow and cheek, I would just get up and b*tch slap him. But instead, I gave him the olí stink eye and it looks like we now have a date to rumble when we land. Be aware, will you?

It really amazes me how much travelers lack common courtesy these days. If itís a short flight (three hours or less), I rarely ever recline my seat because space is already limited. The only time I do lean back is when the person in front of me reclines. Then, before I recline, I turn around and give a heads up to the person behind me, letting them know that Iím about to invade their personal space. As a frequent laptop user, I appreciate when the person in front of me allows me the time to adjust my laptop so my computer screen doesnít get wedged and break. TIP: Speaking of laptops: Always close them when drinks are being served because spills happen.

Other notables: When you take your seat for the first time, smile and say hello to your seatmate. If the person beside you is chatty and you donít want to be, then immediately put your headphones on, even if you donít want to listen to music. This indicates that you arenít interested in idle chitchat and theyíll get the message. If they donít, just explain that youíve had a long day and you want to get some sleep, catch up on some TV, finish your book club book or whatever excuse suits you.

When getting up to use the loo, donít push or grab the seat in front of you in such a way that you wake the person seated in it or worse, pull on their hair. I barely even have any hair and this has happened to me many times! It not only startles me but makes me want to pay the guy in 19F to put a cap in your arse! Again, just be aware!

We all know the most unpopular seats on the plane are the middle seats. And in my experience, itís rarely filled by a solo female traveler who is pretty, or a passenger who is in good shape with pleasant body odor. When the plane is full, which is typically the case these days, and some poor soul gets stuck in the middle seat, itís common knowledge that they get both armrests. So donít try to elbow them for space ... even if they are smelly.

If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth! The flying tube is already infested with germs from the re-circulated air and we donít need any more nasties flying around. Just cover your mouth or better yet, wear a mask like the Japanese do when theyíre sick.

Iím a guy and I realize how messy we men can be when using the loo. Maybe if the aircraft toilets had a bulls-eye, we would aim better. If you havenít noticed it by about 20 minutes into the flight, the bathroom floor is already covered in urine. Personally, I think airplanes should have male and female bathrooms not only because then we wouldnít have to wait so long in line, but also to be more considerate to women because they donít miss. For the men out there with bad aim ... wipe it up before leaving and always be sure the bathroom doors are closed -- no one wants to smell it!

Yes, the airlines are all cutting back and some donít even offer food on board (jetBlue is one of them). If you are going to bring food on the plane, which I suggest you do, try not to bring anything hot or smelly like McDonaldís. Though it smells good in the airport, it wonít when you are 37,000 feet up.

Turn your cell phone off when youíre told to. We hear you sneaking your last minute calls while taxiing down the runway. More importantly, donít speak so loudly that everyone can hear you. My dad is almost deaf and I can still talk to him without letting the passenger next to me hear what Iím saying. If this annoys you too, a solution is to bring earplugs and/or noise canceling headsets.

Everything above should be common sense but youíd be surprised ... itís not. So, hereís a list of other common courtesies gone bad.

Flatulence: Could you please go into the bathroom instead of gassing us? Just because we canít hear it doesnít mean we donít know who dealt it. First of all, the beef and broccoli was a dead giveaway. Secondly, we see your smirk each time you pop. Just go to the bathroom.

When you come cruising down the aisle to take your seat, try not to take seated passengers out with your swinging backpack or purse. Also, how difficult is it to put your bags in the overhead compartments correctly and quickly? The moment you find your seat, throw whatever you need (iPod, newspaper, food) on your seat and then put your bag up wheels first and sit down. Donít decide when you get to your seat to go hunting for your glasses, pen or magazine once youíve stowed your luggage up above, because then youíre just blocking the aisle. Have everything ready when youíre in the gate area.

Snoring also bothers many passengers but thatís a tough one to deal with it. Earplugs do the trick for me but if itís really too loud, I rip a string off my baggage tag and tickle the personís neck so they wake up. Of course, I only do this while no one else is looking. Window shade: If itís a night flight, lower the window shade so when the sun comes up in the middle of the flight no one is disturbed; I bring eye shades to prevent this. And finally: For that kicking kid sitting behind you ... if the parent doesnít get the stink eye, try to make friends with him by bribing him. Five dollars often does the trick. But I know youíd rather give him and his parents a swift kick in the ass.

Finally, in todayís flying environment, no one is more stressed out than the flight attendants and gate agents. Their pay and their benefits have been cut and they often take the heat from passengers, like itís their fault. I see so many passengers taking their problems out on these people. Instead, be very kind to them. I almost always bring them a box of chocolates and a smile. They are always appreciative and will make my flight as pleasurable as can be. Besides, I might need them to help me take out the gym monkey in 19F.

Happy travels!

Next Week somewhere remote and exotic.

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    October 5, 2008 MedJet Blog

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  • Just came across your website. Amazing! For all my future travel plans I will refer to your website before booking anything. We have been traveling to East and West coast in the US quite often. I just fully agree with the lack of user friendliness at US immigration desks. Upon leaving the US in 2002, the green slip from my immigration document did not make it back into the administration, meaning that at my next visit, I was ďadministratively speakingĒ still in the country. After a 2 hour filmed interrogation I was finally admitted, but for 6 years, I have had secondary controls upon arrival in the US, and NO ONE could tell me how to get rid of this administrative problem in my file. I even went to Washington Border Security administration where I received wrong information. The solution: start a DHS TRIP procedure via It works, only not within the 3 months mentioned, my file took 9 months to get solved. Might be an interesting subject to add on your site: ďAdminstrative procedures and problems + solutions while travellingĒ As Belgian citizen I was also interested to see what you knew about Belgium. Pretty nice report on Brussels. In your video you refer to the price of the fuel being 4x what you were used toÖThat gap has surely narrowed. Nevertheless, I saw other people advised you in the past to go and see Bruges (Brugge). And while youíre there, do not forget about Gent (in between Brussels and Bruges). So whenever you plan to revisit the country that is only 250 miles long, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I will be pleased to show you some areas of beauty and interest. Regards, Peter V - Belgium

  • An FYI to your West Coast travelers Ė I rented from Fox for the week. Like you, I always go with compact first. They ran out and upgraded me to a Dodge Charger. I only paid $142 for the entire week Ė including taxes and fees. Fox only rents in a few west coast states (including all the coastal states) and you cannot travel outside of the states where Fox does not rent. Bob S. Ė Pittsburgh

  • Wow! What a fantastic opportunity to ride on that plane and yes, the flight attendants are gorgeous! The plane looks like it could be a vacation all by itself with all the trappings. Johnny, you certainly have a wonderful job and a great website. Thank you. Karen S -

  • You do know you have the best job in the entire world, don't you?!?! Britt K Ė San Diego, CA

  • Johnny, I'm a huge fan. I'm in the military, travel frequently and hit your website several times a week looking for helpful hints (ex: Brazil requires a tourist visa? I had no idea!). I have no real advice for you. Keep doing what you do best and I greatly appreciate your website. James T - LtCol, ALANG

  • A super overview of Seattle Ė but you didnít mention the wineries so you probably didnít have time to get to any of them. And you obviously didnít get to Vancouver, B.C. which is probably a whole other trip. But I live in Vancouver and thank you for the tips on places to eat in Seattle. The pizzas looked wonderful and well worth a visit. So thank you again for the Seattle visit Ė I find it very interesting to read someone elseís ďtakeĒ on a city I know and to see all the things I didnít know. Gemma H Ė Vancouver, Canada

  • I also recently traveled on Virgin America for the first time. The fare was the best ($149 from Dulles to SFO), but the thing I really liked was the attitude of their employees. The gate agents and flight attendants were friendly and actually seemed to enjoy their jobs. When our flight had network issues with the entertainment system, the captain not only apologized but told us the drinks and food were on the house! I guess it was that or nothing, since they donít take cash and there was no way to charge to accredit card without the entertainment system. They did get the system working halfway through the flight, but the captain said everything would remain ďon the houseĒ. Way to go, Virgin America! David Citron - Danville, CA

  • Hi - I found this article about Mendicino Co. very interesting and down to earth. Thank you for writing it. Karen S - Butler, PA

  • I just wanted to congratulate you on your first assignment- really great work!! I enjoyed the article and also enjoyed your personal writing style. Sarah K Ė L.A.

  • Really nicely done! Fun and quick read bringing me where I would not have gone otherwise. But actually, now I do want to go there...! Francis D Ė Westport, CT

  • Being a retired Air Canada employee, it was nice to read that you enjoyed the flight, and that you told others!. Thanks for the positive comments.. Steve C - Canada

  • Thanks Natalie! We are flying executive class next time. Paula S - Canada

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