As the Minister of Common Sense, I spend a lot of time hating people while I'm on an airplane. I'm not sure what it is, but people become surprisingly more stupid and inconsiderate while at the airport or while sitting on a plane. I log about 100,000 miles a year in the air, and until the The Ministry buys me my own private jet, I am stuck interacting with these "people" (I just spat on the ground). As your trusty public servant, I am posting the following Rules of the Air. You are now free to move about the cabin.
(1) Don't set off the metal detector. It's a METAL DETECTOR, PEOPLE! The name of the machine is pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? Then why are there always people who walk through it, set it off, then act all surprised as they take off their watch, giant belt buckle, big bracelet, etc.? For God's sake, just think about it next time, would you?? (I'm not going to even bother getting into the topic of laptops and liquids... let's just try for the basics right now.)
(2) Wait for your section/row to be called before trying to board the plane. In a classic move, the gate agent announces boarding and everyone rushes to the entrance of the jetway. If you have flown before, then you know this is not how it works. If you are so undeveloped as a human being that you have ever "rode the plane", then think about it... don't you believe that there are people who are "better" than you? We live in a commercial world with classes. When have you, Mr. First Time Flyer, ever been allowed to be first for anything in your life? Well, it's not starting now. The people in First Class board first, then the airline's frequent flyers, then specific rows or sections. There are people who paid a lot more money than you to take this flight, and they get to board first. If you are NOT one of the sections/people that they letting board first, then STAND WELL CLEAR of the boarding area. There are people behind you that can't get on the plane because your Priceline ass is in the way. Oh, and while I'm at it, for those of you who are ESL (English is a Second Language), don't pretend like you don't know any English, act all confused, and try to board first when they are calling first class. I see this all the time, and we are on to your tricks - we won't let you board. This isn't a toilet paper line in Russia - we have rules.
(3) Don't talk to the person sitting next to you. If English IS your first language, don't use it and talk to me when I sit next to you. If you want to say "Hey" and give me a little head nod when you sit down to prove you are not a hijacker, that's cool - but don't try to engage me in a conversation. I'm being FORCED to sit next to you - I didn't ELECT to sit next to you - it's not an invitation to talk. And if someone is READING, then DEFINITELY don't talk to them. Reading a book on an airplane is a defense mechanism to MAKE SURE you don't talk to us. Sometimes, a good conversation may develop on a plane, but if the person is responding to you in monosyllables, then guess what?... they're not interested. I'm sorry other people in your life aren't interested in talking to you, but don't try to practice on me. If people in your life aren't interested in talking to you, then I am for damn sure not interested. My heart goes out to pretty girls on planes... I see that they are especially subjected to unwanted "stranger talk". Here is a hint to all the guys who try to talk to them... they are not going to sleep with you. In fact, they hate you.
(3b) Don't talk loudly. The plane is like a library. People are reading. People don't really want to be there. They are trying to ENDURE the hours. We don't want to hear anything that we didn't initiate. If you must talk to someone you know (or you found someone actually willing to listen to you), then speak softly.
(4) Don't fucking touch my seat. Why do people feel the need to grab and shake the seat in front of them when they are getting in and out of their own seat? I know it's a tight fit, but please appreciate that I CAN FEEL THAT! My seatback is not some crutch for you to use to stand up. And it's not like they just lean or pull against it for a second, it seems like they feel the need to shake it violently. Are you having problems getting up?... then you are too fucking fat. Not my problem.
(5) No babies in First Class. One of the benefits of buying a first class seat is that you are away from the masses... especially crying babies. Nothing ruins First Class more than having a crying baby one row away from you. I don't care how rich you are, if you have a baby, you can't buy a First Class seat. If you have a baby with you on a long flight (in First Class or Coach) then at least have the decency to slip it a little Benadryl and make all our lives better.
(6) When exiting the aircraft, people in the row in front of you get to exit first. I am all for boarding and exiting the plane as smoothly and efficiently as possible, but this does not mean you get to try to sneak past me while I'm getting my bag down from the overhead bin. If someone is really delaying or taking their time getting out of the row in front of you, then that is one thing. But, if they are exiting the row and getting their bag in a normal fashion, then you have to give them the two seconds it takes to get out. I give a hard body check to people who try to sneak past me in the aisle, and I let my elbows fly wide when getting my bag from the overhead bin. Anything that happens to you is your own fault.
(7) Don't play your iPod too loud through your headphones. First of all, you are damaging your ears, and it doesn't need to be THAT loud. Secondly, I can hear your goddamn music, and I hate it. The sole purpose of the headphone is so that ONLY YOU can hear it. Let's try to keep it that way, OK? We all hated people who would carry around boomboxes before the invention of the headphone, so don't make your iPod so loud that it becomes a mini boombox.
(8) The middle seat gets the armrests on both sides of their seat. We all know that it sucks to be in the middle seat. With that in mind, the aisle and window people need to relinquish the shared armrests to the middle seat person - they get the right of first refusal. The aisle and window seat people have more room than the middle seat and they have their own armrest, so let the middle seat people claim the "joint armrest" between you.
(8a) Stay in your airspace. If I let you use the armrest, then stay on the armrest and don't cross over into my air space. If your arm is touching mine, then you know you are too far over, and you should quickly retreat. Why is it that people don't move away from you when their leg/arm starts to lean against yours on an airplane? I hate that.
(9) Don't recline like you are in a La-Z-Boy. I will admit that you have the right to recline your seat, but do it SLOWLY. Don't hit the button and leap back at a 100 miles an hour. There is not a lot of room back here, and your seatback infringes on my tray table, headspace, laptop, etc. Doing a slow, controlled recline gives me warning and allows me to prepare for the intrusion. Doing it fast will slam my laptop shut, spill my drink and hit my head. Another rule is that you really shouldn't recline on flights less than two hours. Although I will acknowledge that it is your "right" to recline, it really isn't necessary for short flights. Don't make the flight worse for me by needlessly reclining... or doing a full 100% recline, try it halfway and see how it feels.
(10) Board as quickly as possible. When getting on the plane, please put your bag in the overhead bin in a rapid fashion and MOVE OUT OF THE AISLE! It shocks me to see tons of people put their bag up, then fidget around needlessly before getting into their seat and getting out of the way. It's like the whole drive-thru problem I blogged about earlier... people place their order at the intercom and then (now that they are done their business) don't pull all the way up to the car in front of them, completely ignorant to the fact that they are screwing up everyone behind them. The same is true on a plane - people don't get out of the aisle, once they have gotten to their seat and put their bag up in storage. YOU HAVE TO MOVE to allow for the other 200 miserable people to get on the plane and achieve an ontime departure. The flight attendants are constantly on the mic telling people to move out of the aisle, yet it never seems to sink it. And while you're at it, make sure you are in the right row and seat. There are signs and diagrams showing the row number and that seat A is the window, etc... just get it right, for God's sake.
I am sure I could make a list of 100 rules, and I probably left some important ones out. I'd love to hear from you as to what I missed. There are special, completely obnoxious things that have happened to me while on a plane, but they deserve their own postings. Coming soon.