Fly Classy; Don’t Squat

Once an Argentine lady sitting in front of me reached behind and grabbed my thigh. She was aggravated by what she perceived as repeated seat kicking. I promise I didn’t mean to – there was just no way I could sit without my knees touching her chair. I am far from tall; the plane was just that squished.

Anyways, this lady was clearly crazy, and grabbing a stranger’s thigh is never an appropriate response. But I’ve been at the other end of the situation (most recently when I sat in front of a wayward toddler during a trans-Atlantic flight), so I can’t entirely blame the lady. Just a few things to keep in mind:

1. Flying sucks, don’t make it suckier. No really, flying is the worst. Gimme an eight hour train or bus ride over a one hour flight any day.

And those other passengers on the plane? They probably hate it as much as you do. So try to be courteous – try to see if the person behind you has her tray down or is watching a movie before you recline your seat. Try not to put your smelly feet on someone else’s armrest (confession: this was the whole impetus for this article. As I write this, right now, a woman is doing that to me. It’s revolting, and rude).

2. Keep the restrooms respectable. Squatting is a vicious, horrible cycle. People squat because the seats are gross, and when they squat, they spray pee everywhere. Eventually, the once sterile lavatory becomes a scary, cramped cesspool of urine. When you add in flight turbulence, this problem gets a hundred times worse. So be an adult and clean up after yourself. And while you’re at it, try not to hog the bathroom for un-kosher activities (I’ll let it slide Lehua, because I love you).

3. Leave your fellow passengers alone unless they show interest in talking with you. Some people like to chat to make the time go faster, other people want to sleep/read/watch tv. Few things are more annoying than being stuck next to a chatty seatmate when you’re sleep deprived on the third leg of an across-the-world flight. Some of us don’t have the courage to tell you to shove it, so we begrudgingly tolerate you instead. I know, I know. But please just be respectful.

This fella never left me alone – but he was cute, so I didn’t mind.

4. And don’t be a jerk to the flight attendants. They’re usually nice people, so be nice back.

5. If you’re experiencing turbulence, hold your hand over your beverage. My seatmate’s juice once spilled on me and I’m still annoyed about it.

6. Don’t mutter “oh god, we’re all going to die” when there’s turbulence. Just keep those thoughts to yourself – some of us have anxiety. Do remain calm, because chances are actually very very small that you will actually die on the plane. At your tranquility will be invaluable for your anxious seatmates.

7. Watch your voice. This one can be hard for me because for some reason my voice is always a zillion decibels louder than everyone else’s. But there is no reason to shout on planes. Especially if your mouth is in close proximity to my ear.

Can’t we all just sit back and enjoy the view? Is that too much to ask?

8. Clean your crap up. It’s unpleasant to find that the last person in your seat left their gum sticking to the in-flight magazine pages. This is not an airplane rule so much as a “being a decent human” rule, but people seem to forget it an awful lot during flights.

9. If you’re going to do Sudoku or crosswords in the in-flight magazine, take it with you to make sure the passenger after you will get a replacement. No, seriously. Discovering that my Sudokus have already been completed is just one of those depressing experiences that can ruin an otherwise tolerable flight.

10. Bring shit to distract your kids. Not being a parent, I don’t know what that entails, but you probably do. Also not being a parent, I have little sympathy for people who let their crazy kids act out on flights when I’m trying to sleep. Try to keep it under control, please. I love kids dearly but I know that sometimes they can suck and it’s not your fault. But at least try SOMETHING, so we can all sympathize with you rather than resent you.

11. Don’t even think about bringing tuna or sardines onto a flight. That stuff smells horrible and there are many things you can eat which don’t smell like festering sea-carcass, so it’s inexcusable. It’s just a jerky thing to do and you’re not a jerk, so don’t do it.

12. If you think you’ll be sleeping, grab a window seat. For your own sake, and for the sake of the poor sap next to you who drank three beers and needs to use the restroom.

13. Do as I say not as I do – if someone else is being really rude and ruining your flight, try to (politely!) ask them to stop, then ask a flight attendant for a seat change if possible. Don’t just sit there silently and stew, or passive-aggressively recline your seat while they’re watching an in-flight movie. Or spend the entire flight writing articles about the many things they could do to not suck.


That should about cover it. Let’s just remember that we are all in this together, and if you’re pleasant you can make flying a tolerable experience. Oh and for goodness sake, try to board efficiently. Stop trying to board before your zone is called.

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