Up in the air

by Hemang Sharma


By now everyone is familiar with the horrific incident out of a Minneapolis Delta Airlines flight that occurred earlier this week. An Idaho man allegedly slapped and hurled a racial slur at a toddler sitting right next to him, whose mother couldn’t keep the baby quiet.


The man got arrested, received media and public condemnation all over and ultimately lost his job. Here are a few things I would warn you about potentially frowned upon behavior on an aircraft.


1. Don’t get physical:


No, I’m not bursting your bubble for getting freaky in the lavatory. I’m simply suggesting containing your rowdiness to smothering your better half (or a complete stranger) with kisses, much to the amazement of the kid who just witnessed two adults entering the same bathroom, and to the scorn of the flight attendant who lectures you about how the Air Marshall won’t approve.


Get it on before you get on the aircraft, or wait until you land, before landing yourself in an embarrassing situation, among other places.


2. Don’t get physical (I’m serious, don’t)


This time, I mean actual physicality. No fighting. No harassing the crew. You don’t like how much space the person next to you is taking? Big deal! Remain calm, take a deep breath, and meditate. Avoid physical confrontation at every cost.


Not only will you cause the flight to be diverted to the middle of nowhere, but in case you decide it’s a good idea to let fists fly, you may get tackled by a U.S. Air Marshall, and a few other good people intending to stop you from bringing the aircraft down — a charge they will definitely slap you with, once you are in an extremely comfortable interrogation room with the airport officials and the local FBI agents looking at you through a glass window.


3. Just carry on


If you’re like me, and have never been lucky enough to find that one free business class upgrade, chances are you know your way around the coach class.


Now there are people who bring a carry-on luggage, and then there are people who disguise it as carry-on, and instead it is a full-load of attaché/ suitcase/ travel bags that limit the ability of anyone else besides you to find any space to keep their carry-on bag.


Remember, sharing is caring. And everyone on that aircraft has paid the same amount of money and is entitled to some space to keep their carry-on.


Restrict yours to one small bag — one thing and one thing only. That means no separate laptop cases, blankets that need a separate case, six bags of chips you bought at a gas station on your way to the airport. None of that, please. Respect other peoples’ space and they’ll respect yours.


4. Don’t kick the baby


I know, I know. It has been over an hour and they are still waiting for the runway to clear out, or filling up the fuel container. Who cares? You just want this plane to take off because you’re sick of the crying baby in the next row.


Be a little tolerant of the little ones. Don’t give angry look to their mothers who are trying to breastfeed them with another child in a row staring at her with his mouth open. Don’t harass the flight attendants and ask them to tell the parents of the child to shut him up.


And definitely don’t make irritable noises that make others known that you don’t like that child at the moment. They don’t either, and I can assure you, they’d rather see a crying baby than a whining adult. Be quiet, be calm, drink some more of that free alcohol (if you’re in the right class) and try to sleep, void of any disturbances.


It is fair game to turn around and politely ask the parent/guardian of the child right behind you who insists on kicking the back of your seat every few minutes to shackle the little angle.


5. Don’t walk around too much


Nobody wants to be that guy. You know, the one that harassed the travel agent about a window seat and now wants to pee and stretch his leg every 20 minutes.


You sit down, buckle up, sip another diet coke, watch a movie you saw on the opening night it came out, just because it is free to watch it right now, and then again… you have to pee, you have to stretch your legs, your foot is cramping, you need to get your copy of “50 Shades” from your carry on. Just don’t.


Sit, and do something that’ll distract you from distracting others. You think it is easy for the grandma sitting in your row to get up so that you can walk past her, or to sit there and let you attempt to walk out without pushing your behind in her face?


So please, people, if you have the (mis)fortune of having the window seat, stay there. Or if you must get your cardio in by pacing around the Boeing, politely ask for a trade-off with someone who can remain immobile for a few hours.


6. Don’t drink too much


It may be stress, it may be fear of being up in the air, or simply the fact that you are bored, please do not booze like it is your 21st birthday.


I know it is tempting. The alcohol is free, you have nothing better to do, people won’t judge you, you don’t have to work tomorrow — I get it. But it is no excuse to act like its Saint Patrick’s Day.


Belligerent drinking is not supposed to be done on an airplane. You’ll have to get up to pee a lot, you’ll say something to someone, you might throw up on the grandma sitting next to you, you might get suggestive to the cute Russian flight attendant, and it can all be caught on a cell phone camera.


So please, save yourself the embarrassment. Save the rest of us the trouble, and drink responsibly. Not more than the pilot, at least.


7. Don’t occupy the bathroom


The water is limited, the plumbing isn’t top notch, and there isn’t a Home Depot inventory in the back that would allow you to fix a clogged bathroom.


Be quick, be responsible with the water, and don’t make a mess in there. Do you really want to be stuck for the next ten hours with one working bathroom and a lot of people? I didn’t think so either.


And don’t even think that you’ll flash your smile and charm the flight attendant into allowing you to use the first-class bathroom. You didn’t pay for it, and you won’t be allowed there.  Don’t even ask. Think of it like a bar on your Sweet 16, you want it, but you are not supposed to get it.


So there you have it, a few things to make your, and everyone else’s air travel more tolerable.


Hemang Sharma




Hemang Sharma welcomes comments at [email protected]