Everyone says they love traveling. But really, they love arriving. No one actually likes the physical act of traveling, particularly the bit about being crammed like cattle into a metal tube in the sky.
Airports are one long game of stress, rushing from one place to the next only to find a line there and then having to wait, only to pass that line and rush to stand in a new one. Let’s all try to be a team next time we’re at the airport and make it more comfortable for everyone involved.
Forgetting How Check-In Works
Check in should set the tone for the rest of your airport experience. By this we mean you should start off in orderly fashion and be well prepared. Have your ID out and ready, your flight info already displayed on your phone, and know the rough estimated weight of your bag.
If you are traveling with kids, keep them on a leash while checking in, metaphorically if not literally. Kids have a habit of running around the little cue poles to ducking under the ropes or getting in the way while others try to maneuver around them.
We all know checking in can be one of the more stressful times in travel because if you are running late, this could make or break your flight. Security may let you pass but if you’re late here, then your bags may not even make it on the plane. So, like Scar sings in one of the best Disney movies of all time, The Lion King, “be prepared!”
Forgetting What to Do at Security
How many times have you flown? If that number is more than one, then you should know by now what is going to happen. Every time I line up in a security line, I instantly think of that scene in the film Up In the Air when George Clooney is explaining which line will be the quickest. And while, as Anna Kendrick points out, it’s kind of stereotyping, it happens to have certain truths.
Think of it as your duty to break those stereotypes so we can all be great, quick, travelers. For example, they say you can leave your belt on but if you know your belt has a piece of metal that makes the machine go off half the time, rather than risk it and slow down the process, take the belt off. Simple.
Check your pockets and take anything else out. Get prepared while waiting so your jacket is already unbuttoned, your shoes are untied—whatever you have to do to speed things up. Nobody likes the security line.
A note for frequent flyers, be aware that TSA implementing a new rule for electronic devices larger than a phone. They will have to be placed in a separate bin for a new security test.
Forgetting All Sense of Spatial Awareness
We understand the concept of “hurry up and wait” but that does not mean you have to physically wait in the worst possible places. For some reason, it seems as though anytime someone wants to check their text messages or decide where to get a snack, they decide to stand in the middle of the terminal floor where people are trying to maneuver with their bags, kids, dogs, and whatever else they are taking with them.
If you have to stop for any reason—this includes using your phone, talking to your kids, or grabbing something from your bag—do it over by the seated folks, not by the ones who are rushing out of the airport or to their plane.
Be mindful of the stop. That should be on posters around airports everywhere.
Forgetting That Your Belongings Don’t Need Their Own Chair
We’ve all seen some selfish people taking up some nice seats for egregious reasons. For instance, I was at the airport a couple weeks ago and there were the normal chairs by the gate that feel like they belong in a prison somewhere for capital punishment, and then there were some nice, plush, leather chairs that had individual outlets. There was a guy traveling alone taking up two of these chairs—one for him and one for his garment bag.
Forgetting Other People Have Ears
Kids may not like ear buds (and they’re not the best choice for them), and maybe headphones hurt their head. But there has to be a happy medium here. Find some children’s headphones or have the volume down low enough that the entire airport doesn’t have to listen to YouTube unwrapping videos (which yes, that is a thing now, where kids watch other kids literally just unwrap toys), or Captain America Vs. Iron Man for the 328th time.
It’s like being next to someone on the phone who is talking incredibly loud all about their new business model while you are boarding a 6 a.m. flight. Don’t be that guy either. Take your calls to a more secluded area so we don’t have to listen to the one-sided conversation.
Forgetting That The Airport Is Not Your House
Two things we see way too much of at the airport as we play the game of hurry up and wait: crumbs and bare feet. How many times have you gone to sit in a chair only to find it littered with crumbs, grease, and trash? How many times have you seen people who—granted, may have had a long layover—have removed their shoes and socks and have their bare feet on the chairs around you?
The airport is gross enough with thousands of people coming and going each day. Please don’t make it any worse by planning a Hansel and Gretel–esque trip back from the gate to find your seat using crumbs from airport food. And always, always, always keep your shoes and socks on.
Forgetting That Southwest Passengers Live and Die by Numbers
Don’t make us out to be the bad guy here. If you are B-12, don’t try to sneak in at the last of the As or pretend like you are B-2. If you checked in a bit late, then abide by your number. Nobody likes being first in their little section only to have someone come up after a few minutes to stand in front of them.
Keep your ticket out and available for everyone to see and that way we can work as a team to all get in an order—just like in elementary school as we were lead from the classroom to the cafeteria. But elementary school kids would probably be more orderly than these scammers.
Forgetting That Your Bags Take Time to Come Out
Baggage claim: the last step you take before walking to freedom. Everyone’s clamoring around the baggage carousel, waiting right at the entrance for a chance to grab their unidentifiable black bag. It’s understandable; people have reached their boiling points and want to get out of the airport. However, standing around the baggage claim as if it were first row seats during the Super Bowl is going to make things tough for everyone else.
Give it some space so that when someone else sees their bag they don’t have to wedge in between you and your family almost knocking one of your kids out as they swing their bag off the carousel. You’ll get your bag eventually—we hope.