Making the Skies a Bit Friendlier

by | Feb 13, 2011 | Parade Magazine | 0 comments

Hello, this is your captain speaking.

Okay, I lied. I don’t sit in the cockpit. I sit where you sit. And I fly a lot (over 100,000 miles a year). So I would like to suggest ways the airlines could treat us better this year.

But why bother?

Any business that will soon be charging you and me to open the bathroom door isn’t keen on hearing from either of us. The airlines stopped listening about the time they began selling pillows.

So perhaps we could speak to one another as fellow travelers. Because even if the airlines torture us until we’d rather ride on the back of a filthy hay wagon, we don’t have to follow suit, do we?

We can all be flying buddies!

Here are a few gentle suggestions:

First, when you get on the plane, walk down the aisle with your carry-on luggage in front of you, not behind you. Behind you, you knock over drinks, bags, and small elderly people.

And when you finally sit down, think before you slam your seat back into the person behind you. Breaking kneecaps is for gangster movies.

Feet. As in bare feet. Don’t do it. Maybe at home you like to rip off your socks and plant your naked toes wherever you like, but not on a plane, okay? This isn’t a nail salon. I recently sat next to a woman who stuck her bare, sweaty feet on the cabin wall! Please. Unless you’re Spider-Man and about to walk upside down, keep the shoes on, all right? It’s smelly enough in the cabin.

Which brings us to food. Yes, I know you’re lucky to get a cornflake on an airplane today, but if you must bring food on board, consider the odor. Fried onions will not stop smelling at 23D.

Kids. Let’s talk about kids. Kids love airplanes. Many can’t believe they have a seat in front of them they can kick all flight long, while Mom and Dad watch the movie. Please. Tell them to stop.

And if you’ve got a crying baby—and we all love babies—at least pretend you’re trying to keep him quiet. Don’t hide behind an US Weekly.

Also, once your kids stop crying, the plane should not hear from them again until they are old enough to be—and actually are—the pilots. I recently had a little boy behind me who all flight long kept singing, at the top of his lungs, “Go-Go-Go…the cat in the hat!” I don’t know this song, or if it even is a song, but I do know his mom did nothing except occasionally whisper, -“Jacob, keep it down,” which had the same effect as pressing the Volume-Up button.

Speaking of volume, if you need to use your cellphone on the tarmac, please remember there are people inches away from you. They really don’t want to hear about Uncle Seymour’s kidney problem.

And if you fall asleep, try not to do so on the person next to you.

So there you go. With a little cooperation, we can all have a better year as passengers, even if the airlines think we’re cattle. Thank you for your attention. And now, as the captain says, sit back, relax, and strip to your underwear.

Security check.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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