The Humble Commuter Part 3 – Planes

It’s been over a year since I ditched my daily commute for a remote position at Automattic. These days I rarely drive, and when I do, it’s almost enjoyable again. Almost. I do find myself careening through the atmosphere in a flimsy metal tube a lot more often than ever before. Just as I learned a bevy of invaluable lessons about surviving the soul crushing daily drive into the office  (here and here), I have been carefully observing my fellow airborne travelers to provide you with the best tips for making your in-flight and airport experience as painless as possible.

  • When the flight attendant “suggests” you turn off your cell phone or put it in airplane mode, this does not apply to you. The fact that your brother’s friend’s cousin worked at an airport Cinnabon ® and overheard someone say that cell signals don’t interfere with the plane’s operation is enough evidence to risk the safety of your fellow passengers so you can squeak out one more tweet about whatever inane crap you tweet about.
  • From the very first moment you take your seat on a plane, the battle for control over the shared armrest begins. Plant your arm down on that sucker and keep it there. If you move it, you will lose it. You may want to consider adult incontinence gear so you can avoid having to travel to the lavatory or inadvertently wet yourself on longer flights. Persistence pays off here, so don’t let your guard down.
  • Really long trips can take a toll on you. If you have been bouncing around airports and connecting flights for a day or two there is a neat trick you can take advantage of to up your personal comfort level – pop your shoes off. Those dogs have been bottled up long enough, so uncork them and get ready to relax. It’s unlikely anyone in the pressurized cabin of recirculating air will notice your reeking foot odor. Don’t forget to recline the seat the full .1 degrees for the ultimate in relaxation.
  • Wear noise canceling headphones with music so loud someone would have to basically punch you in the face to get your attention. This way you can avoid any important announcements in either the airport or on the plane. When asked why you missed the fact that the gate personal have been calling your name for the last hour and the flight is delayed because of you, just stare blankly. This usually works
  • Gripe constantly. The seats are tiny, the food sucks, the plane is old, the flight attendant is a dick, the airport bathroom floor is sticky, the jerk next to you won’t share the armrest, the in-flight movie stars Adam Sandler – you get the idea. Never ending complaints help everyone around you feel better about their own unvoiced grievances, so really this is like performing a public service.
  • The TSA is a helpful group of friendly professionals there to help make you feel safer. They care about you, and treat all travelers fairly. You will not be singled out because of how you look or dress, and the rules for getting through security are uniformly applied in all airports everywhere. That might be the most off-the-charts satire I have ever written. It was actually physically difficult to type.
  • When getting ready to board the plane, you should start to crowd around the gate area with your bags ready about 30 minutes before any airline personnel show up. The plane will leave without you if you don’t board ahead of everyone in your boarding zone, so try to get to the front, preferably by acting as if other passengers are non-existent. Even better would be to sneak into an earlier boarding group. They probably won’t send you back.
  • It’s fun to see how big of a carry-on bag you can get away with. Avoid airlines that measure your bag for appropriate dimensions. If you end up on one of these, try anyway, and complain like crazy when they insist you check the bag. How can they not realize you don’t have five minutes to wait at the baggage claim with all the other suckers? What the airlines don’t want you to know, is that those overhead bins employ a Dr. Who Tardis-like technology that makes them cavernous on the inside. I have no doubt a full-grown African elephant could fit, nevermind an overstuffed duffle bag with three snowboards in it.

So the next time you are mid-take-off and the guy behind you is tweeting about the lack of legroom while hanging his sweaty socks on your seat back to dry off – Turn around and say hi – it might be me!

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