Dear Neophyte Traveler, I'm Watching You

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If you love to travel, as I do, you might have a love-hate relationship with airports or domestic air travel. Broadly speaking, I love both. What sometimes complicates this state of affairs is, well, people.

Yet I'm not talking about everyone. I'm talking about those folks who don't fly or don't know how air travel really works. And, while I'll have more sympathy for someone who has never flown (I met one of those people this year at Reagan National Airport), some things are just common sense and have more to do with paying attention, listening and thinking clearly.

Let's cover some of them.

If everyone is showing some identification to get to their gate, you'll need to show some too. Admittedly, this one is rather rare, although there are times when folks don't differentiate between an "official" ID and something less official. If everyone is taking off their shoes, you'll need to as well. And, "no liquids" is intended to mean exactly what it sounds like. Also, once you get through security and are gathering your belongings, please take your tray(s) to the appropriate area and go from there. Don't, for example, put on your shoes and block everyone from picking up their trays. Don't even put on your belt; it's both unnecessary and a disservice to your fellow travelers.

Right before we're getting ready to board, don't crowd around the line if you're in Group 2 or Group 3. Really, even people in the Group 1 crowd should hold off initially because a lot of people are going to get on that plane before you. And, of course, please be cognizant of what group you're in and board at the appropriate time.

During the flight, don't use the bathroom in first class if you're flying in coach. There is a reason that first class tickets are more expensive. I've not seen anything official, though I'm fairly certain one of them is the luxury of using a bathroom inflight that's clean, sans toilet paper or urine on the floor, with a handwashing area that's almost certainly in good shape. Failing to adhere to this rule is completely unacceptable. Even though I'm almost never travelling in first class, it frustrates me to see other travelers so clearly violate a rule which is so fundamental.

Lastly, when we're about to land, don't turn off the airplane mode on your cell phone until the plan has actually landed. If you're going to be difficult and disregard this imminently sensible advice, don't answer a phone call while the plane is still in the air! And talking quietly to the person on the other end of the line would not make it any more acceptable. (I have seen this happen this year.)

I'm not trying to offend anybody, but some things just need to be said. So, neophyte traveler, I'm watching you, even though I'm not sure if you read the Huffington Post or not.

Besides, these days, domestic air travel, especially in coach, leaves so much to be desired. We've got to deal with the perennially hopeless, frequently clueless and sometimes creepy Transportation Security Administration (TSA). We've got to deal with overcrowded cabin bins and a dearth of legroom. Our choices for booze aren't ever going to be that exciting and we always must pay (unless we're travelling in first).

Air travel is a subject close to my heart and I probably could have written a much longer piece. But hey, it's the holiday season. I don't want to be that curmudgeon, standing out amongst other curmudgeons. I did, however, need to get these ideas out there. These thoughts will become increasingly relevant in the festive days ahead.

I wish you safe (and thoughtful) travels.