It starts with the boarding process: Assume everyone will have the two allowed pieces of carry-on luggage. One will be at the maximum size you can get by with – and it will have wheels. These suckers fit only in the overhead bins because they can’t slide under the seats. If there are, say, 132 passengers, this means 132 pieces of big luggage need space in those small bins.
Got it? Then let’s take a little quiz. Where would you put your purse? Your briefcase? Your tote? Your small duffel? Your backpack? Your shopping bag? Your coat? Your toiletry bag?
On my farewell 2008 flight to Las Vegas, 131 people flunked, because they chose the overhead bins. (Except for the toiletry bags. That was a trick question. You can’t carry that many bottles of liquid and lotions on board these days.
This of course means the flight can’t pull away from the gate on time and 132 people are now either squeezed beyond reason on their connections or will miss the next flight altogether.
OK, now that everyone is aware of the need to be courteous to their fellow travelers, let’s kick it up a notch. If you want to recline your seat, that is your right unless you are in the exit row, where you already have twice as much room as the rest of us and therefore should refrain from hogging what little space the peon behind you was granted. But please don’t shove it back during the beverage and snack portion of the flight. You will jam a tray into someone’s stomach and spill their orange juice. And maybe that person can’t change clothes for hours and hours and will just have to sit there first with sopping wet jeans from trying to clean it up and then with sticky residue that makes them fuse to taxi seats.
Listening to an iPod is an admirable way to pass time during the flight. But what would possess you to start an imaginary drum solo complete with crashing flourishes? Your elbow has no business getting that closely acquainted with your seat companion’s nose. If you can’t resist temptation, just sing already.
Finally, when you rise to use the restroom or get your stuff out of the overhead bin that you were so eager to cram up there in the first place, do not grab the back of the seat in front of you for leverage. You have two armrests for that purpose, and they don’t suddenly snap a fellow passenger’s head back like a slingshot. I was sleeping, pal.
I’m sure you have a few etiquette suggestions to share as well. Recommendations for getting orange juice out of sequined jeans are also appreciated.