Rules for Flying, Rules for Life

If you don’t fly often, you probably feel a bit uncomfortable in an airport. It’s crowded, has plenty of moving parts and offers many ways for you to screw up. Odds are you’ll ask for help at the wrong place or time, delaying hundreds of people who know what they are doing. So, to keep you from punishing people for your own ignorance or stupidity, I’ve decided to give you a set of idiot-proof rules for behavior. Follow them, and you’ll do just fine.

1. Find someone who knows what he’s doing; imitate him

Look for a person carrying a laptop or wearing a suit. He or she is probably a consultant, attorney or investment banker … and frequent traveler. This person is your new role model. Take off your shoes, fetch your boarding pass, etc. when this person does. You’ll be in good shape.

2. Pack less

If you can’t carry it all yourself, you shouldn’t make us suffer. Your burden is your problem, not mine. If you can’t carry it, you don’t need it. If you need it, you shouldn’t leave home.

3. Shut your kids up

To you, your kids are a blessing. To me, they are Satan’s representatives of assholia on Earth. When your kids cry, you see they are upset. When your kids cry, my wife sees that I’m upset. Do whatever it takes to shut them up.

Now, some people believe that children should learn that they can’t always get what they want. And, if they have to cry, you should let them. Here’s the problem with that approach. I really don’t give a shit about your kids. I have so little at stake in how they are raised that I can’t conceive of caring. So, conduct the life lessons on your own time and at home. Not my problem.

Coming home from Paris a couple of years ago, some woman’s son was crying on the plane. She started to breastfeed him at her seat. Normally, I’m not a big fan of this, but it shut her id’s mouth. I applaud her. Her other kid (probably three or four years old) then started to cry. All I could think was, “Hey, you have another one. Use it.” Thankfully, I said nothing.

This is actually tucked away on a discount European airlines servers

This is actually tucked away on a discount European airline's servers

4. Think ahead

Don’t wait until you are at security to take your laptop out of your carry-on. If there is a line to get through security– and there usually is– use this time wisely. I do the following while waiting in line: (1) take laptop out of bag, (2) take off my shoes, (3) slide my license or passport and boarding pass under one of my shoes (between the show and the laptop, held by my side) and (4) put any metal (such as my blackberry and cigar cutter) into the small pocket on the front of my backpack. By the time I get to the x-ray machine, all I have to do is toss my stuff on the conveyor belt. It saves plenty of time– for me and those around me.

Do it my way.

5. Use time in line effectively

Long line at Sbarro? Lots of people want to go to Starbucks? Use this to your advantage– and mine. read the fucking menu while you’re in line. There is no excuse for standing around for 20 minutes before getting to the cash register and saying, “I’m not sure …” No fucking excuse. This is an extension of the security concept above, but my audience for this probably can’t see the connection without a little help.

6. Don’t negotiate

Oversold means oversold. No amount of charisma or belligerence will change this fact. Don’t make me wait because you got screwed. When that happens, you turn one problem into several. See, you have the problem that causes you to bitch at the customer service rep. But, you cause a problem for everyone else who is waiting in line behind you. We have to wait, while you negotiate for something that doesn’t exist. So, shut up, and move on.

Now, you may view yourself as something of a freedom fighter. You’re taking on the incompetent airline on behalf of all of us, and we should appreciate your efforts. Right? Bullshit. You look like a fucking retard when you fight with the inept. You don’t inspire respect; you inspire rage. When you beg, negotiate or fight on my time, all you do is direct my anger from the airline to you. I don’t think I’m alone on this one.

The last time I flew, a Delta flight to West Palm Beach was canceled, so all those poor slobs tried to get on my flight to Ft Lauderdale. But, my flight was already oversold. So, to tose morons who waited in line for more than half an hour, I ask, just what the fuck did you hope to accomplish? Did you really think you’d get me bumped? Seriously, don’t be fucking stupid.

7. When you get mad, ou look stupid (a corollary of the above)

In your head, it feels like righteous indignation. On your face, it reads, “Call me Jeffrey Dahmer.” When you yell at a customer service rep, you look like a psycho. You may be right, but you’ll get no sympathy from anybody.

8. Don’t expect service

You’re in an airport, dealing with an airline. I don’t care if you’re super-fly-triple-platinum-guy, you will be treated like shit. And, the more you fly, the greater the odds of your likely shitty treatment. This is the only business in which a company’s best customers routinely get fucked (except porn).

I lived this. I’ve held a lot of travel-heavy jobs, but 2002 stands out for me. From January through June, I racked up more than 90,000 base miles on Northwest. If I hadn’t effectively moved from Boston to Omaha for the balance of the year, it would have been close to 200,000. This is strictly miles flown– no bonuses or any shit like that. I spent a lot of cash on flights (and billed it to my clients!!!), but I ultimately chose which airline to fly. Yet, Northwest did not treat me like a prince. They didn’t even shoot me a smile when all the other scum got scowls. Yeah, money well spent.

Final Thoughts

Look, I could keep going, but you already have plenty to work on. If you can master these eight simple rules, you’ll graduate from disastrous scumbag to mild pain in the ass. Everyone will be happier; trust me.

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