Let's see...when last we saw an evacuation chute make the news, it was being put to use in the icy winter waters of the Hudson. Remember that? And here we are again, another dramatic exit by emergency chute. Only this time, minus the emergency. Just a flight attendant, holding a beer, going down a slide.
So why is America so quick to call Steven Slater a hero? Though he didn't save anyone, his dramatic stand against bad manners obviously resonates with people. While most folks will agree that, yes, he overreacted here, there seems to be little doubt among the online community that the passenger that drove Mr. Slater over the edge is just as much, if not more, out of line in her behavior.
And this is reassuring why? People recognize that Mr. Slater was denied the basic respect he deserved. The outpouring of support in favor of Mr. Slater seems to indicate that, to most at least, manners still matter. If only we could say the same for everyone we've encountered during our travels, not only on the plane but in the airport as well. Are you an annoying traveler? Nobody is perfect, but here are a few guidelines to help keep your behavior in check.
1. You may find small inconsistencies here and there, but security regulations are pretty much standard across the board. Is it really a surprise that your cellphone will set off the metal detector? Help speed things up by placing all your metal and electronic doodads in a coat pocket or carry-on pouch, remove your laptop from its case, have liquids/gels/toiletries in the TSA-approved quart-sized bag, and have those shoes ready to toss in the tray. And yes, that nonfat macchiato you just bought does in fact count as a liquid. As does that 6 gallon vat of Gold Bond Medicated Cream you forgot to put in your checked baggage. Don't argue with the nice agent. Keep it moving.
2. Standing still on the people mover. Exhilarating, isn't it? Enjoy the ride! But at least move to the right so others can get around. And move those bags out of the way too. Thanks!
3. Carry-ons and overheads, bad news first: You may have to store your carry-on in an overhead bin other than the one directly above your seat. The good news? Every overhead bin on the plane is going to the same place you're going! Quelle coinkidink! Heck, even if you're asked to check your carry-on, you'll still see it again upon arrival. A slight inconvenience, yes, but no need for a meltdown. Just take whatever items you may need during the flight and keep them under the seat in front of you. No biggie.
4. Be accommodating to your seatmates and fellow passengers, without being creepy. Are they avoiding eye contact when taking their seat? If so, they probably aren't up for a get-to-know-you chitchat. Taking the redeye and notice everyone in your row sleeping? Then keep your shade down and turn the reading light off a little sooner. And would it kill you to swap seats so that family can seat together? Probably not.
5. Whoa there, Burger King, go easy on the smells. You wouldn't want your seatmate blowing stogie smoke in your face, and that steaming Whopper with onion isn';t any better. If you're starving, forgo that grease-blotted bag of fast food for something a little more discrete. Have you ever in your life caught a whiff of M&Ms, or a ham and cheese, or a bag of trail-mix? No? Well, there you go. Buy those instead.
And this isn't solely a food offense. Remember, you're in a plane, not the hair & make-up trailer. While your attempts at getting beautiful are sure to be a hit on the ground, the nail polish and the Axe body spray aren't gonna make you any friends up in the air. At the very least, do your spritzing and fixing in the lavatory. Related: Armpits and feet...hellooo? Are you smuggling Doritos in those socks? Keep it clean, people.
6. Surely, you've heard. All portable electronics, mobile phones, laptops, etc. must be switched off during take-off and landing. Think this rule is just a bunch of hooey? Whatever effect your last minute call to the office might have on the delicate instruments of the aircraft is not up for debate. It's a risk your fellow passengers and their families probably don't care to take. So, whatever it is, it can wait. And please don't give the crew any lip if they ask you again to turn it off, mmkay?
7. Kicking and screaming. This is a delicate one, but not necessarily all that complicated. Parents traveling with children, please keep your child from kicking the back of the seat, slipping arms between seats, yelling, and being a nuisance to fellow passengers. You may be desensitized to this sort of thing, but the guy in front of you is not. Annoyed passenger, should the trouble persist and you have to ask the parent to intervene, do so in a polite and pleasant tone. Making someone feel like an inadequate parent will only make things worse.
As for crying infants...well, sorry, it happens. And there's not much to be done about it. One thing's for sure. Those pricey noise canceling headphones you passed up on the ground are looking puh-retty worth it about now, aren't they? Maybe buy them next time. You'll be so glad you did.
8. Clapping upon landing? Really? This one isn't so much annoying as it is baffling. How exactly did you imagine this flight would end?
9. Stay seated until the aircraft has reached the gate. Yes, the siren song of 200-something seat belts unfastening in unison is very exciting. You've landed, you want to stand up, and you want your stuff! But hang cool, teddybear. Even if by some chance you've collected your things from the overhead the moment the wheels touch the ground...uh, where exactly do you plan on going? The door is still closed and there are about 60 people seated in the rows before you, all of whom are just as eager to deplane.
10. Once at baggage claim, all sense of personal space seems to go out the window. And it's no wonder, after having spent all those hours confined to such a tiny seat. But don't wriggle your way through a cluster of waiting people only to block their access to the belt. That's annoying. Those people are waiting on their bag too. The conveyor belt is long and winding, with plenty of room for everyone.
Are we missing anything? If so, feel free to add your own travel annoyances below.