Travelers can be nasty people so be kind to them, especially those working and trying to help.
This week, I traveled back to London, marking my second long trip in the span of a month. While to some this much back and forth seems crazy, for me, this is a warm up for moving back home in December and then coming back for graduation (a round trip) in January —not to mention any air travel needed once I figure out where I’ll be getting a job and living after that.
On the way back here, I encountered a lot more travel issues than I ever expected.
At LAX, our flight was delayed boarding for about an hour, in which time we were shuffled from one gate to the next, 4 times over. In Seattle, we were delayed another 40 minutes. Then we lingered over Heathrow for yet another 30 minutes due to an overcrowded flight deck. Once inside, customs took another hour and a half—which, including deplaning and getting to the tube, was more like two hours.
So, while, as an experienced, traveler I understand how these things add up and compound with normal travel stress, causing tensions fly high, nothing excuses some of the passengers’ behaviors I have seen in these last few trips.
I’m not going to list everything I have seen, but here are a few examples of the big travel don’ts I’ve witnessed:
1. In LAX, I watched a woman fight over pushing a wheelchair from one gate to another. The TSA agent literally had to move the woman’s hand off of her own and say very slowly, “Ma’am, you are not allowed to move this wheelchair. I will get you both to the gate, but you have to let go.” This was said three times within my hearing.
Guys, airports have strict procedures that you may not understand—you don’t have to! Seriously, your job is to follow directions and get on your plane. That’s it!
2. Going through customs, as the line wrapped around the corridor, I heard another woman exclaim when she saw the line: “oh my god, we are not waiting in this line. Come on, we are going to talk to someone about this mess.”
This mess was an unexpected buildup took half as long as any of us expected thanks to the teamwork of those working on the ground. I saw more tiny women running in heals, trying to keep smiling, and everyone happy than I had ever witnessed before.
3. And finally, a scene created by a mother of two whom left her baggage unattended outside of customs while her husband waited in line because her son needed to use the restroom – she didn’t want to take said luggage with her. When the TSA told her she could not leave the bags unattended, the woman yelled at her about her kid needing to go to the bathroom and how she would be back. The TSA woman was stern but polite, continuing with stating the airport protocols. Finally, the woman’s husband got out of line and stood with the bags.
This should have ended the confrontation. However, when the mother got back, she went back and continued to explain/ argue with the agent a little more quietly while her husband (alone) dragged the family bags back with him in line.
Seriously, ladies, why does it always seem to be us?!
There were a few men causing issues—ie. men taking up too much room when room is tight, men who drink too much and talk to loud, ect—but no one was as belligerent as these women.
And here’s the thing, especially with the holiday jams approaching: traveling can be a major pain. It’s stressful physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally. It’s a pain to get to the airport, it’s stressful being confined onboard where you have no control over where you are and who you are with, and then it’s stressful getting out of the airplane and through the rest of the airport (sometimes, again, because of those you are with).
Still, can you imagine how much worse it feels for someone who has to do all of this every day, and then gets yelled at by belligerent people who can control the situation just as much as you can?
So instead of being a belligerent passenger, travel smarter.
Carry as little carry on baggage as you can—this gives you a little more under the seat room.
Check in early – etickets are so easy now and save you tons of issues and time; dropping off your bags will be the only thing you have to deal with.
Stop carrying makeup and other liquids through security—your face will thank you for a day off and security will be a breeze. If you forget to remove these from your bag, you will be held up at security as they go through your whole bag. It’s really not worth it!
And seriously, schedule large gaps between stops for those tricky layovers, especially during the busier seasons. This is especially important for overseas travel as places, such as Heathrow, have you go through customs there before you move further on.
If you do need help, always be kind. Sometimes people who are working, whether as TSAs, in food services, on the plane and off, can be flustered, hasty, and even rude. But trust that their day is probably a lot more stressing than yours and they do it every day. So do good, be kind, smile more. The world is a tough enough place without you adding to it. You’ll be happier for it.
Now as I fight off jetlag, I hope you have many happy travels and until next time,
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.