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Friday, December 9, 2005

Don't Be That Guy (Reposted by Request)

I don't want to go off on a rant here, but...

Don't be that guy.

What do I mean by that? Well in this case, I mean don't be that guy on an airplane.

Still, "Paul," you say, "what are you trying to say to us?" Well here it is; I fly. A lot. Did you go to work today? Then I probably had a flight. I fly an average of 6 segments a week. A segment (also called a "leg" or a "cycle") is a take off and a successful landing. Just to add a little more explanation, many pilots define a successful landing as "any landing that you walk away from." A high standard, indeed. The fewest segments I have flown in any week recently was 3. I'm seriously considering asking my company to give me what they spend on airfare as a salary, and I'll find a way to fly on what they pay me. See? Always looking for the win/win.

Flying as much as I do, a person tends to develop some pet peeves. OK, so you know me and you know that I am a waking ball of pet peeves. Live with it. People who can't deal with it peeve me.

On every flight, the airline will budget about 20-30 minutes to clean, stock, and fuel the plane, 20-30 minutes to board, and about 10-15 minutes do debark at the destination. This is all dead time. Non-revenue time. Airlines hate this. I don't blame them. If I paid $127 jillion dollars for a piece of equipment, I'd want to keep it busy too. Hell, the digital photo mini labs that many of our customers use cost less than a quarter of a million dollars, and I want to beat the holy hell out of folks that use it as an expensive spare desk. But I digress...

Let's go over the life cycle of an airline flight and let me teach you how not to be that guy. That guy who annoys the living stuff out of me.

The plane that will be used for our flight lands and begins to taxi to the gate. Once it arrives, the passengers on there need to get out, the cleaning crew needs to get on, along with the new crew, the plane has to be fueled and baggage has to be offloaded and the new bags stowed. Those procedures are all staggered over a period of less than an hour, as long as stuff doesn't go wrong. I won't even go into what will happen any more if it freaking rains or if there is a mechanical delay (which, btw, is almost always blamed on the lavatory. Either those things are notoriously undependable, or I call bullshit. They just don't want to tell you that one of the engine bolts fell off, because they are afraid you will cash in your ticket and let Greyhound "leave the driving to us," along with several of your new odiferous friends. But again I digress.) For the passengers, their role in all of this is painfully simple. In a perfect world, it might be described as follows;

* Check in
* Check your baggage unless it is considerably smaller than a German Shepherd. You are limited to 2 carry-on items, one must fit under the seat in front of you.
* Put all your metal things in a bucket, take off your shoes and go through security.
* Collect all your metal things.
* Proceed to your gate well before scheduled departure.
* Sit until your boarding group is called (if you haven't flown in a while, the airlines board in groups, windows in the back to aisle in the front. Actually, this makes a lot of sense. It really cuts down on climbing over people.
* When called, get up, get in line, have your ticket ready, give it to the agent, and proceed to the plane.
* Find your seat, stow your baggage, and get out of the aisle, so that others may pass. Hint: The big numbers are at the back of the shiny tube. The small numbers are on the seats you can't afford.
* When they ask you to stow your tray table, turn off your cell phone, and return your seat back to it's upright position, just freaking do it. You aren't any more important than the rest of us. I've never heard anyone on their cell perform a successful brain transplant over the phone. If you aren't doing that, you don't need to be on the phone after we push back.

Not that hard, right? And I even put a couple extra rules in there. Here's where the system breaks down;

If you are in boarding group 7, you don't need to be standing in front of the gate while they call group 1 to board. We're all getting there at relatively the same time, at least we can do it on schedule if your bon-bon eating butt isn't blocking not only the gate, but the walkway in the terminal. We're all going to get there at the same time. Help me make my connecting flight and make sure that time is on schedule.

You don't need to bring any of the following on the plane with you; Your backpack if it's the size of a VW bus. You don't need any baggage that is that big either. You don't need to bring anything that you can't easily carry. If you have to sling it over your shoulder, you either need to put your baggage on a diet or look into the Charles Atlas thing from the bubble gum. Seriously, what is it, like 100 feet? It's not an dang 3 day hike across the Yosemite high meadows. When you carry your bag that way, you bounce it off every person's melon that you pass. This is especially true of the backpack. The next person that does this to me is going to look like a Mr. Backpack (picture Mr. Potato Head and you have the right idea.) I'm 6'7, so part of the problem I acknowledge is how high I stick up above the seat. In my mind, this makes me infinitely easier to spot. Still, some numbskull with a backpack will inevitably turn around to talk to his/her girlfriend about what band they want to see at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and smack me straight in the grille with whatever dang rock collection they have in there. Be forewarned. This will no longer be tolerated.

If you are in the 4th row, and you were wearing a jacket (which is another subject. Nancy, you don't need a coat when it gets below 70. I don't even pack a coat unless the high is going to be less than 40. Get over it. If we are gonna have this global warming ice age they keep promising us, I guess at least I can take solace in knowing it's going to kill you,) let everyone else by you BEFORE you neatly fold your coat and place it in the overhead. First, that real estate up there is freaking gold. If you are going to put it up there, make sure it's on top of your bag. Second, you don't need to do it while the other 127 people in the aisle and on the jetway wait. Hold it in your lap, and when everyone is on, stand up and put it in the overhead. See? That didn't delay departure. Cool, huh? Don't be that guy.

Repeatedly trying to fit your bag in the overhead when it is clearly too large is a cry for help. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result every time is one clinical definition of insanity. And not the cool rock-star kind, either.

If you drag your wheeled case onto the plane, and it catches on every set as you go by, see the rule above.

Like I said earlier, for those of you that haven't met me, I'm really tall. Freakishly so. Airplanes were not made for me. There are three exceptions to this rule. Sadly, exception #1 is out of my price range. First Class provides ample legroom for my long legs, as well as a good amount of seat for my ample beam (if you don't know what beam is, look it up. It's nautical.) The second exception is not my favorite. The bulkhead seat. No seat in front of you is nice. Not having a seat in front of you to put your computer under is not nice. Option #3 is what I call poor man's first class. It's the exit rows over the wings. They are not too far back in the tube (it's noisy back there, and it's annoying. I'll get to that in a minute.) Here's where I get annoyed; If you can cross your legs comfortably, have been a swimsuit model, are so skinny that you could have shared a seat, or so short that you think Glip is a giant, then you need to stay out of my effing exit row! For crissake, you just don't need the space. I don't trust you to get the 50-lb. door off in case of emergency, either. God help you if you come between me and my exit in that event.

If the seatbelt sign is on, and the flight crew asks you to stay In your seat, then do it. I don't need us hitting a wind shear or getting in the vortex of a larger plane up ahead and having your bony ass fly through the cabin and injure me. Once again, God help you... Besides, I told you to go before we left.

I'm a large guy. I carry a bunch of heavy stuff. If I can get through the aisle without rubbing my ass on you, you can do the same for me. 'nuf said.

If the Flight Attendants are in the row doing the beverage service, please wait patiently until they are done for your potty break. I don't need them smacking me in the elbow with that damn thing again.

OK, I know I'm wide. Please give me half the armrest. I don't want to put my arm on it, I just don't want to hold my arm in front of me through the whole flight so that you can use both of the armrests to read the paper, cross your legs, and to act indignant should I accidentally touch you. Please, get over yourself. This goes double if you are a guy and you are reading Us, People, or any of that other celebrity drivel. Read Popular Science or PC magazine or something and I may let you live, otherwise, you deserve to die.

Leave your damn shoes on. Seriously. WTF?

If you are smaller than me (and if you are reading this, you almost certainly are,) and you are sitting in the row in front of me, for the love of all that is holy, please don't recline. If you do, and your recliner doesn't seem to work, that is because I'm not in an exit row and when I sat down, my legs were wedged against the back of your seat. Repeatedly throwing your weight back against the seat back after I have yelped OW! will not lead to your seat reclining. You may get the sensation of an ejection seat however. If you are sitting in your seat cross-legged, and you still try to recline, I can't be held accountable for my actions.

Unless it is a service animal, leave your dog at home.

Don't ring the flight attendant call button during takeoff to ask for a pillow.

If your seat is in the rear of the plane, don't use the overhead in the front. See, that makes me use the overhead in the back for mine, and makes you an asshat. Self-importance rankles me.

And finally, one for the FAA. If someone doesn't know how to fasten the seatbelt, or to lift up on the metal buckle to release it, it's time for a Darwin Award for them anyway. Seriously, let the family tree branch end there.

Some of this is clearly the airlines fault, since they let people get away with larger and larger bags. They are loathe to correct people though, as the easily insulted may take their valuable business elsewhere.

On a positive note, I went Platinum on American today. Double miles for me! Free Upgrades! Now if there was only a way to choose your seatmates, then I would be a happy guy. At least until the next rant.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.