Airport Guests: Behave Yourselves!

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Boston, Massachusetts. August 2016.

So, if you are following along from last weeks discussion/advice on carry-on bags and air travel, you will remember that my final point was to simply Be Kind. In my advice, I also mentioned that I was going to talk about bad behavior and some of the truly horrendous things I’ve seen in my last few travels and how to avoid being these people who make life more difficult for everyone.

I have two quick points to start us off:

Firstly, I was never going to write this post, because, let’s be honest, we’ve all seen people misbehaving in airports and all immediately think ‘but I’d never do that!’, however, it’s easier to fall into bad behavior in a stressful situation (ie, traveling) than one would think. Then seeing certain situations – as will be detailed below – I felt the need to ask: when did we all forget how to travel well?

And, secondly, it may seem weird to address this to ‘Airport Guests’, after all, it’s not like you are staying at the airport like you might a hotel room or any other lodging, however, in both of these cases, you are technically a customer. Most of the time, we find that people behave better when they think of themselves as a guest – a person who may be served while there but who is generally expected t0 do their part and respect their host – rather than a simple customer – a person who is spending money in exchange for goods and services.

Therefore, if you are traveling, think of yourselves as a guests, with those travel employees not as your servers but as your hosts who are more than happy to help you out, but who also have every right not to do your bidding just because you demand it. (In this, I am in no way saying that anyone who works as a server deserves less respect; this actually works for all kinds of service oriented jobs!)

Anyway, while a lot of boorish behavior I have seen deals with luggage, I want to highlight two whoops moments (one seen and one experienced and neither really luggage related) to see what to do and not to do in the high stress world of travel: where everything can/will go a bit topsy-turvy.

Bad:

Coming home from Boston, my family landed in LAX which is the main LA thoroughfare, meaning it is a relatively large airport (but nothing like JFK or Heathrow!) but, in all my experiences, it is very well signed so that if you are paying attention, you shouldn’t end up too turned about.

Well, unless you were like the two early twenty-somethings we saw arguing with the two female security agents guarding the exit rout leading to the baggage claim – for those who are unclear, this is the hallway that is an exit only from the terminals which has no official security (metal detectors and ticket checks) and therefore cannot be used as an entry point to the terminals for any reason (which is why there are signs which specifically state the this is an exit point only and to check your baggage!).

This pair of young women were roughly explaining – one in anger and one through near tears – that they had been on the other side of the checkpoint but had gotten turned around while trying to transfer between flights, the next of which was set to board in half an hour. While one of the girls continued to be very combative (and very fond of interrupting), one of the guards explained that they could not verify that they had come through and, since it seemed like they had walked in through the outer doors before approaching the station, they would have to go though security (again) to reenter the terminal area.

The belligerent one began yelling (or at least something very reminiscent of it)n- hence why I can tell you so much about a conversation I heard in passing – about how they wouldn’t make their flight if they had to reenter security and how this was frankly (and I am censoring) total B.S. because they were not outside – they had just come down because they got lost trying to transfer.

After double checking their time to get to the plane, the guard very calmly (I was keeping track at this point and it all happened quickly) told them to head up to security and to tell the person sorting  out the line what had happened and the time constraint, and they would do their best to get both girls to their plane as quickly as possible.

While the crying girl went into panic mode, the other got more belligerent but, finally, after another minute or so of arguing fruitlessly, and frankly wasting precious time they did not seem to have, the angrier one dragged her panicked and now sobbing counterpart off toward the exit and the security above, however, not before loudly exclaiming “I can’t believe these absolute *C-U-Next-Tuesdays!” (*again, this is censored).

Yep. So why was this so bad?

First, there are certain parts of airports that are exit only’s just as there are no public access areas – it’s part of security. These exits do not have bag scanners or metal detectors but pairs or single guards who are in charge of keeping the peace, keeping the flow of traffic moving, and making sure it all goes in one direction: out. Therefore, the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter the reason, you cannot enter at these points no matter how self-important you may think you are or what your situation may be. This really goes double if you are the ones that got turned around and didn’t follow the signs.

Second, you are yelling at a person who is one of the front-line defense of national security. You may know that you are not dangerous or carrying anything dangerous, and frankly, in this situation, the guards were not worried about these two girls being a danger. However, by yelling and causing this scene, these girls did distract them from their jobs which, again, is a matter of national security.

Thirdly, speaking to anybody the way this girl was is highly inappropriate and I do not just mean the language used. More critical to you traveling, however, most airports have posted warnings about physically and/or verbally abusing airport employees and the consequences of breaking these rules can be severe – forget missing your flight, you may end up on, at the very least, that airports no fly list if you behave badly enough.

Finally, I was shocked they were helped at all. As they say, ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’ If they had been calmer and listened, these girls could have been up at security at least 5 minutes quicker and a lot less panicked. Who knows what other help could have been offered as well, but instead they acted out. We all know that traveling can be frustrating but no one deserves to have it taken out on them personally for doing their job, especially when they are helping you and your fellow travelers the best the can (even if it many not feel like it to you). So again: Be Kind.

The better way:

My sister and I had a huge diversion on of our early transfer flights through New York when we flew off to our graduation trip around the UK – big enough that we sprinted alongside an elderly Japanese couple who were traveling like we were so we wouldn’t miss our flight (this was with a two hour scheduled gap so that wasn’t a planning issue, but a weather fluke). By the time we got to the gate, they had just started boarding so we were not worried. However, we didn’t seem to have all our information in order because when we got to our boarding, we couldn’t get on the plane.

We were panicked.

We headed to the counter, which was a bit understaffed, but a lovely British gentleman got to us eventually and helped sort us out – unbeknownst to us, because of the way we had checked-in in LA and the delays, we were supposed to check in with the desk and let them know that we had made it and let them re-print the tickets for the last legs of your journey. To this day I do not know why this was in all the details, but that’s what happened.

There was confusion and panic and the verge of tears, but no anger and no language and we were helped and headed on our way.

Unfortunately, because of that hiccup – or at least we assume because of that flight mishap – when we landed in Dublin to catch the bus to Galway, our luggage wasn’t there to greet us.

Again came the panic.

I had planned 4 days – one of our longest stays in any city – in Galway to get used to the time zone and settle in but the woman working at the lost luggage center couldn’t guarantee that the bags would get to us in time for our next stop. She was very nice and gave us – two very panicked, very tired, and very young travelers – all the information we would need to check in with the airline to see where our bags might be and where we could change our locations if they hadn’t managed to get to us in those four days.

Still on the brink of tears and mildly panicked but ready to start an adventure we set out, once again without a rude word or tone, which also meant we got a free meal voucher that my shoe string budget truly appreciated. And, maybe with karma on our side, with a bit of high-jinks along the way, the bags reached us the afternoon before we were set to leave Galway.


Now, in no way am I trying to say our panic was on the same level as the two girls in story one, nor am I trying to call them out as nasty, rude people (I make no judgment about them personally, just their actions and words) – what I am trying to do is show that things go wrong when you travel both by your own choices and just dumb luck, but that doesn’t give you any kind of right to take it out on anyone else.

So please, travel well, make good choices, and always, always, always, try to be kind out there.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Airport Guests: Behave Yourselves!

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