Airline Travel 101

The following are some things most people might need to know about air travel that airlines probably won’t mention.

Seat Reclining Protocol:

If there is someone behind you consider if it is really necessary to recline your seat at all. If the flight is short and the person behind you isn’t short the polite thing to do is endure a little good posture for a while. If you must recline then do it with a little grace and consideration. Slowly. This will give the person behind you time to move their computer and get their knees out of the way. It might also prevent you from being strangled from behind.

Inside Voice Please:

Please understand that air travel might make you more chatty than usual, a little stress, lower oxygen levels, whatever. It is usually just fine to talk to someone on the airplane but there is no need to shout. If the person you are talking to doesn’t occasionally say “what” you are probably talking too loudly. The other people around you could not give a rat’s ass about what you have to say and are trying to sleep. Or they might be lawyers for the other side and quite interested. Either way, shush a little.

Baggage Manners:

When you carry all that stuff down the aisle be careful to not hit people with it. Airline crews openly make fun of people that carry stuff like a hang-up bag over one arm banging everybody in the face. This occasionally starts a riot so if you don’t want to get your butt kicked by a fellow traveler please carry your stuff down low behind or in front of you.

Backpack Jagoff:

This is a manners malfunction that is so bad that it has actually earned a name for those that do it. If you wear a backpack be aware that you have stuff sticking out BEHIND you. When you turn around your pack hits people. They might hit back, so please be considerate.


Aircrew people always welcome a kind word but any and all attempts at being cute are at best merely tolerated. We generally mean it when we say “Hi” or “Welcome Aboard” or “Come See us again soon”.  It’s nice when you respond. 

Any comments about the crew drinking, sleeping, screwing, etc. during the flight or any other time really aren’t that much fun and we have probably heard it before. Would you say that shit to your doctor?

Face it, we get your money and you get your ride. We say thank you for the money and behaving yourself. You say thank you for not killing us all by accident. That’s as far as it needs to go.  We generally do not like to be touched. 


Always wear the seatbelt. Even the vast majority of airline crews have NEVER experienced severe turbulence. Be assured that there is some truly scary and dangerous stuff out there that we cannot always see coming. It is rare. It is very rare but it can also hurt you and the crew if seatbelts are not fastened.

That thing we always say about keeping your seatbelt loosely fastened when the seatbelt sign is off aint just for grins. Severe turbulence will give everybody on the airplane bruises from the seatbelts, or throw them against the ceiling hard enough to damage the interior of the airplane. We aren’t kidding about this one.

Gettin Buzzed:

Don’t get drunk at the airport or on the plane. The combined effect of altitude and alcohol is profound. Two drinks in the hour before a flight and one more on a one hour flight will put you way past the legal limit to drive. If you appear to be intoxicated your flight crew is required to have you removed from the airplane. So at least don’t give the appearance.

If you take mood altering medication altitude may affect you. Ask your doctor about it before you fly.


Airline crews are usually away from home for days at a time so we really do understand how miserable it can be to have a delay. It’s not like we get paid extra to screw up your day, and it is usually the weather or a mechanical problem that causes it in the first place.

Labor Problems:

It is true that the airline industry has from time to time been the subject of job actions by employees during labor disputes. This doesn’t seem to happen as much anymore since just about everybody went bankrupt, spent the pension funds on fuel or management bonuses and cut salaries in about half. Anyway, be informed.

Mechanical Delays:

The mechanical delays come in two general varieties. The first is stuff that is just obvious, bad and/or illegal to fly with. The second is stuff that would have been fine if we didn’t notice it. A lot of times it would have fixed itself if nobody had messed with it but now that we noticed it we are stuck.

Either way please trust our judgment on this. We don’t want to get killed or suspended without pay any more than you want to be late.

Beyond Our Control:

Frankly since the jet airliner was introduced in 1959 not much could be improved other than navigation safety and modern electronics has taken care of that pretty well.

Please bear with us while our valued, management inspired co-workers fidget, fuss, organize, repaint, redefine and otherwise try desperately to add quality to the same old point A to B jet powered travel product.

These people all have degrees in managing and marketing and stuff so please pardon any inconvenience as they try to manage and market in an attempt to keep the industry from falling into foreign ownership or government takeover. This could all get a lot worse.

This goes for every airline.


2 Responses to “Airline Travel 101”

  1. So in summary:
    Try to remember that you live in ALL THREE DIMENSIONS. So do pilots. So do airplanes. Not marketing people though, they’re freaks that must be tolerated.

  2. All we do in the industry re-paint, merge, re-schedule and re-name.

    Poor attempts at product improvement, without changing the product, generally just annoy everybody and cost a lot.

    Airlines always fidget with things when they are loosing money, but they never fix anything that needs it.

    It is the nature of the entity to do this.

    Yes, it puts our valued co-workers in marketing in a difficult position. They have to put a good spin on the silly changes made by management and still do what they do.

    We can only tolerate this. I hope they can too.

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