9 Ways To Not Be An Asshole When You Travel


Growing up, when I wasn’t being raised at home, I was being raised in airports. My dad traveled for work and in an effort to make sure we were not strangers, my mom and I were lucky enough to travel around the country with him. I learned about weight restrictions for bags, memorized airport codes, and learned the ins and outs of the best airlines to fly with before puberty even really set in. Thanks to this, I am a scarily efficient traveler. I’ve been privy to the “not an idiot” upgrade on more than one occasion simply because I implement these rules every time I fly. Here you go; simple steps to making your (and your stranger neighbors’) journey a little less awful. I can’t make that recycled air suck less though…still haven’t figured that one out.

1. If you can – just check your effing bag.

I understand that for some, spending those extra fifty bucks is just not feasible; that not everyone has frequent flyer miles or scored on their ticket price. It sucks handing Sandra at Ticketing $25 while she says “Have a safe flight, sweetie!” with her Big Red breath and fake smile. But here’s the thing: Everyone hates the douche with full suitcase, a carry-on, AND a computer case. That person is just a being a dick. Everyone knows that the person unlucky enough to be stuck next to the over-packer on Flight 562 to Salt Lake is going to have no room underneath the seat in front of them because the selfish ass sitting next to them is going to hog all the space.

If you check your bag you are really just saving yourself so much trouble. You will get through security faster, you will have less to manage and keep track of on your layover, and you will be less stressed overall. Plus you won’t be caught struggling to shove that Kenneth Cole you found at T.J. Maxx into an overhead bin that it was never intended to fit in. Check your bags, folks. It’s a forgotten art.

2. Don’t travel sober.

This can mean a great many things. But let’s break it down for a second.

We are all nicer when we’re stoned, liquored up, or high on Percocet. So implement that! Take matters into your own hands and get a buzz on. You are going to be far more easygoing if you stop at an airport bar and get one (or three) gin and tonics in your system.; the unexpected mechanical issue or extra forty minutes to “de-ice” the plane is just not going to bother you. If you stay sober and/or anxious, you are going to be annoying the gate attendant by tapping your nails on their counter and demanding that they re-route you. You do not want to do this. You want them to be your friend because they have the ability to bump you to business class. Be a little tipsy. Everyone will think you’re adorable and charming.

Please note: I said TIPSY, not wasted. If you get wasted they will not let you fly and then you’ve fucked up. I’ve seen it firsthand. They will put you in airport jail and that is a dark place.

3. Bring both cards and cash.

All airlines are different. If you aren’t flying your trusty regular you won’t know all of the rules. You are going to be all sorts of pissed if you just want a $7 in-flight Barefoot and you find out they “very much appreciate correct change as they’re cash only.” So make like a boy scout and always be prepared.

4. No laces, belts, statement jewelry, or ironic weapon accessories in security.

Today is not the day to be decked out in your high-tops and bullet earrings. Today is the day for slip-on Vans, minimal metals, and cashmere sweatpants. The simpler you are dressed the faster you will go through security, and everyone behind you will be silently thanking you. If you are the dumbass with tons of loose change who simultaneously decided to rock their huge belt buckle and Dr. Martens on the day they had a flight you have earned every “Seriously!?” that’s muttered under people’s breath for the next couple hours.

I like dressing weird too, everyone. But the airport is not the place for it.

5. Put the arm rest down in-between the seats if you get there first.

Maybe you’ve lucked out and you have the row to yourself. But until you know that FOR SURE — and by for sure, I mean you’re officially in the air — you should put the arm rests down. If you leave them up, it’s that whole awkward “where does my elbow go???” dance that everyone hates. Basically if you leave them up you’re putting it out there that you may want to hold hands and no one wants to hold hands on a plane unless they’re afraid of turbulence.

6. If you aren’t on the aisle, sit the fuck down.

Everyone can tell we’re at the gate. The whole rush of air from the cabin doors opening and the jingle of a hundred people making a mad dash to get their seat belts off was kind of a dead giveaway. But unless you have a crazy tight connection and the flight attendant has given strict instructions to GTF off of the plane, just sit down! You are doing the whole “awkward hunching” thing because unless you’re under 5’4” (heyyyyy) you do not fit under the ceiling of your airplane seat.
Just sit. I promise, you will get off of the plane. When have you ever seen a headline that said “36-year-old Man in Lincoln, Nebraska Denied the Right to De-board? Forced to Fly to Pittsburg!” Basically you’re stressing out, annoying everyone around you, and making us feel like we have to rush because you don’t have any patience. Don’t project that anxiety onto me, thanks.

7. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.

If you aren’t a polite sleeper, take a window seat and stick yourself to it like super glue. If you are shifty and have restless leg syndrome, book the aisle seat so you can get up when you need to. If you need extra stretch space, make sure you’re in an exit row because they’re bigger. If you like to prop your feet up, do us all a favor and take the train.

No one but you should have to deal with your extremities on an aircraft. I don’t want to feel your fingers twitching because you’re drumming on the middle arm rest. I don’t want to feel you kicking my seat from behind because you’re convinced you can make the seat recline juuuuust a bit further. I don’t want to have to deal with you at all. That’s the goal, everyone! To make a bubble and stay inside of it.

8. Don’t talk about inappropriate subject matter in front of airport staff.

You are making everyone uncomfortable and are putting a big sign above your head that says “Randomly Selected for Additional Screening.” Just stop it.

9. Remember that, much like High School Musical, we’re all in this together.

Everyone is collectively annoyed when there are delays. If we aren’t in First Class, it is gross to be reminded that they not only get complimentary liquor and their own fancy bathroom but that they get to board first. We hate it when our baggage is over 50 lbs and we have to figure out how to get pairs of shoes out and into our carry-on. We’re all dealing with the weird little world that is the airport. So be nice!

Give directions to gates or trams if you’re familiar with your surroundings, offer to buy your seat partner a drink, assure them that you’ve been through worse if they look nervous — just be a courteous human being.

And stop overpacking and trying to bring full things of hairspray on the plane in your carry on. Seriously.