Airplane Etiquette

MSN’s Travel section had an article about how Virgin Airlines is “advocating a return to civility” in flight. I thought, “Finally, someone is going to shut these whiners up”.

I am no Million Mile passenger, but I fly regularly. I make a conscious effort to be pleasant to the airport staff as well as the airline people. Their jobs are not easy. Sure, there are the horror stories of sitting on the tarmac for six hours. And I have often complained about the lack of communication from the airlines about expected delays. Oh, and the fact that they are charging for checked luggage has made the competition for overhead bins unbearable. But that isn’t the fault of the staff at the gate, or the flight attendants.

Generally, the biggest trouble for me in flying is the other passengers.

“Much has been made in recent years of the lack of civility when it comes to flying, with the term air rage now part of the daily lexicon. Many point to post-9/11 security, which forced a focus on safety over service, as the cause. But in the past two years, flying has become even more trying: in addition to security hassles, there are fuller flights with smaller staffs; increased airfares, even as airlines charge for food, pillows, and checked luggage; and a spike in flight delays. It’s no wonder that increasingly beleaguered passengers are looking to reassert their control — even over issues as seemingly inconsequential as where their It Bags are stored.”

Hm. That sounds like we are excusing them.

Virgin Airlines is training its staff to bend over backwards in accommodating people so as to defuse air rage. I liked it better when they were kicked off the plane. You know why? Because I don’t like that people are rewarded for behaving badly. Check this out, from a role playing training session:

“Do you know how much this bag is worth?” Cournoyer countered.

“Yes I do, and if I had one I wouldn’t want to let go of it either,” Nobles replied with the reverence of one who knows her Hermès from her Hervé. “But how about I wrap it between two blankets for you, stow it overhead, and as soon as the seat-belt sign is turned off, I’ll run down the aisle and give it back to you? I promise! Please!”

Or how about if you can’t store your luggage like a normal person, you don’t bring it on the damn airplane?!

As flyers, we are all in this together. We are all stuck in security lines. We are all subject to delays. We are all looking for space in the overhead bin. We are all “beleaguered passengers” looking to “reassert control”. That is no excuse for behaving badly. I wish Virgin the best of luck – points for trying something. But I’m not convinced.

One Comment on “Airplane Etiquette

  1. I agree that they shouldn’t be rewarding bad behavior. I flew Virgin America last year and I found that their in-flight entertainment was excellent and cut down on some of my anxiety of being stuck in a small space with weird people who needed to bathe more.

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