New Rules for Air Travel

Labor Day has come and gone and air travel is back to “normal” now that all the vacationing and first-time family flyers are grounded with responsibilities of jobs and school. I try to be more tolerant of the traveling public during the summer when the airports and flights are packed with rookies, but now I think it is time to revisit some rules of travel that will make everyone’s experience better and air travel easier to take.

There are plenty of places one can go for travel suggestions, but at those sites you are going to hear, “get to the airport 1 ½ hours before departure” and “drink plenty of fluids”, those type of tips don’t help make my travel better. I am a Type “A” traveler and I don’t believe “getting there is half the fun”, but by following these simple steps you can help make mine and other high-strung traveler’s experience better. I have included some proposed penalties for non-compliance in case I am ever considered for the positron of “Air Travel Czar”. Follow these simple rules and no one gets hurt!

1. When walking down the airplane aisle do not carry your purse, bag, suitcase, kid or backpack slung over one shoulder. You smack every seated aisle passenger in the head as you pass by and you don’t even know it because all the carnage is behind you. Carry your bag, child, etc., in front of you. The aisles are narrow and let’s face it …….humans today are not.
Penalty: After three consecutive contacts with seated passengers or contact with any four of six passengers your bag, purse, etc, will be taken by a flight attendant and left on the tarmac in a holding area, waiting for your eventual return.

2. At the checkpoint when the trays come out of the x-ray machine and start down the conveyor belt, don’t pounce on them the second they appear and start dressing on the spot -this is not a dressing area. Your action stops anybody else from having access to their tray and it’s just plain selfish. Pull your tray to the end of the conveyor belt, take your belongings and go to the seating area to dress and repack. If you can’t carry it all – you have packed too much, period.
Penalty: Those not first moving their trays to the end of the belt and/or taking longer than 10 seconds to gather their material and moving to the seating area will be forced to leave any and all items not yet gathered when the 10 second whistle blows, (whistles will be installed). These items will be sold at auction and the proceeds will be given to a worthy cause. Those passengers without shoes and belts will hopefully be reminded to “be faster next time”.

3. If you are seated in an aisle you get the outside arm rest, if you are at the window you get the far inside arm rest. If you are in the middle seat you can have both the left and right arm rests for your seat…after all you’re in the middle seat.
Penalty; Those not complying with this rule will have the offending arm belted in.

4. Kids. I like kids, I really do, but there has to be some rules. Travelers if you have well behaved, well cared for kids don’t be afraid to travel with them and if your normally well behaved kids of any age starts to “act up”, cry or fuss, don’t get nervous…we understand. Your sense of concern and embarrassment adds to their tension: calm down and feed, walk or change the kiddo, we’ll even help if you ask us to.
If you bring an undisciplined, misbehaving, unruly child on board (yea, we can tell that too), don’t expect that this plane ride is going to be the first time your child will miraculously behave! It’s just not going to happen. Your attempt to now (maybe for the first time) discipline this child is the “foul” here and is disruptive to other travelers. I don’t care how bratty a kid is I don’t want to see his shoulder dislocated by a stressed parent pulling on or shaking it nor do I want to hear the question by a red-faced exasperated parent, “Do you want a whippin!?” First, the answer is always “no”, and second you should have thought of that 1 to 5 years ago depending on the age of the child.
Penalty: Any three of the ten travelers sitting round the offending parent or child can for the remainder of the flight take over the control and discipline of the child or the same number of passengers can vote to have either the parent, the child or both spend the remainder of the flight in “time out” in the rear lavatory.

5. Meandering – don’t do it. I and all other Type “A” travelers walk fast. We would rather speed to our gate and pace back and forth than meander to the gate arriving just in time. I don’t know why, we just do. I lost my 4 year old son in Chicago O’Hare because, well I guess I walked off and left him. But guess what he walks really fast now. I did not win “Father of the Year” that year. Anyway, when the airport is crowded and you are walking down the middle of the hallway, remember there are people behind you who have fallen into pace. They are walking at a certain speed to maximize their arrival without running into you. If you stop suddenly to answer your phone, look at your watch or to read the departure board, you are going to cause a disruption of the flow. Just like while driving if you need to stop, move to the right and stop when you are out of other people’s way. And for goodness sake, walk in a straight line! Weaving back and forth unexpectedly does not allow other travelers to pass you.
Penalty: If “ticketed” for this infraction you may be required to attend an 8 hour travelers re-training, before being allowed to return to any airport.

That about does it for now, happy travels!

Steven Athey is the president of the EMS Consulting Firm, Health Care Visions. Steve has worked in the ambulance industry since 1971 and has managed large and small EMS organizations. Steve holds his undergraduate degree and his MBA from Texas Wesleyan University, where he holds an adjunct faculty position in the School of Business. Steve really wishes he traveled less. Steve can be reached at slathey@hcvems.com

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