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Jerks on a Plane

Whether it's the woman in front of you who fully reclines her seat during the meal service, or the man behind you who keeps jabbing the touch screen like it's done him wrong, a ticket to fly does not grant one license to jettison manners.
02/01/2016 10:14pm ET | Updated February 1, 2017
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I don't know what it is, but something about flying seems to turn otherwise genteel, intelligent, sentient beings into thoughtless bullies and boors.

Whether it's the woman in front of you who fully reclines her seat during the meal service, or the man behind you who keeps jabbing the touch screen like it's done him wrong, a ticket to fly does not grant one license to jettison manners.

To paraphrase Neville Flynn (a.k.a. Samuel Jackson in "Snakes on a Plane"), "Enough is enough! I have had it with these m@$%& jerks on this m@$%& plane!"

But fear not fellow flyers; all hope is not lost. If we join together and promise not to be jerks, I'm confident we can make the skies friendly again.

Before leaving terra firma, let's first tackle airport security where TSA torpor often overtakes the weakest. If you've NEVER EVER flown AND have never seen OR read anything about airport security procedures, or you are aged or a toddler, or are in some way challenged, you're excused. Otherwise, there is no excuse for holding up the line.

- Wear shoes that are easily removed, or if not, start preparing to remove your shoes before you reach the conveyor belt.
- Be ready to remove metal items from your person and pockets, and liquids and laptop from your carry-on bag. Perhaps even do so while waiting in line. Standing there confoundedly searching your bags and yourself for offending contraband on my time is aggranoing (aggravating and annoying) and makes me feel like a bad person for feeling aggranoid.

I liken the airplane boarding process -- particularly when boarding a flight from anywhere in the world to New York City -- as a cross between the gladiatorial games played during the Roman Empire, and class warfare. Only your class is arbitrary and impermanent. It's the only time I ever meditate: patience is a virtue; patience is a virtue.

- Board when it's your turn. Would you cut into the front of a long line at Starbucks or Trader Joe's? No you would not. If you would, you are a terribly rude person and I am happy you are reading this article. Please, learn something. If you don't like your low boarding class, earn a better one: fly more or spend more.

- Keep your boarding pass out to show the flight attendant at the cabin door. How do you not know this? I am trying to hard to be patient.

- Heed thy flight attendants and step out of the aisle so other passengers can pass by you. Of course you need to stand in the aisle while you're placing your luggage in the overhead compartment, but not while you are taking your jacket off, or getting yourself situated, or figuring out who sits with mom.

- Airline aisles are narrow. Carry-on bags are not. Before you pass down the aisle, take your bag down from your shoulder, or your backpack off your back, and hold it in front of you so as to not clock in the face anyone around you.

-If someone walks all the way to the back of the plane to use the bathroom during the boarding process, knowing they'll have to fight like a salmon to make it back to their seat, they really have to go. They aren't trying to get ahead of you; they are trying to get by you. So move over and let them.

Nary a cabin door closes before one of the lowest-common denominators of decent behavior are violated. And if you're on any flight longer than say, takeoff, you can count on it.

- It's not okay to just sit there passing gas. We all smell it and it's disgusting. It worse than disgusting. You need to excuse yourself for the loo, think ahead and bring Gas-X or the like, or HOLD IT IN.

- If you've chosen to sit in the aisle seat, then no attitude is allowed when the middle- or window-seat person wants out. And unless (like me) you are tiny enough to curl up in your seat, then get up. Do not make other people climb over you like a goat, or squeeze past you like a pervert.

- If you've chosen the window seat, or are stuck in the middle seat, we'll graciously stand up to let you out (see above) whenever you want, but please don't ask to get out right after we've just sat back down from getting up. That's just testing us for the hell of it.

- The armrests form an invisible line that no part of you or your belongings may cross. And enough already, the middle seat gets both middle armrests. You can use them too, but politely and out of the middle-person's way.

- There is no reason to ever push or pull the seat in front of you. If you must use the seat in front of you to stand up or sit down, then do so gingerly and be careful not to pull anyone's hair. The same goes for those who use passenger seats when walking the aisle.

- Seats are made to recline. Recline away I say! But warn the person behind you you're coming back, or do so slowly so you don't knock their computer over, for example. And pull your chair forward during meal service (overnight and "sleeping" flights are excused). The food is bad enough as it is.

- I love the personal the entertainment screens. But I can do without all the TAPPING. Use the remote to control. Or, tap lightly. Otherwise, you are literally torturing the person seated in front of you.

- When seated, do not touch the seat in front of you. Meaning, do not touch any part of the seat with any part of your body (the tip of a pointing finger is excepted). With this one act, you are already a better person.

- If someone is bothering you in any way, use patient and kind words to explain rather than assail them with mean stares, grunts, and groans. If he or she reacts poorly or refuses to comply, call the flight attendant. What you don't want to do is start fighting like six-year-olds. Sky Law is hilarious-sounding, but no joke.

- Latrines are filthy even when clean. So put paper in the toilet. Flush the toilet. Drain the sink. Don't pee on the toilet seat. If you do, wipe it. Don't pee on the floor. How is this ever okay? If you can manage to get your pee into the toilet at home, surely you can on a plane too? It's the same size.

Contrary to all my grievances, I LOVE TO FLY. I'm still amazed a plane can get off the ground! I still feel a thrill every time we take off or land, and will never tire of looking out the window (I'm an aisle person on flights over three hours). And I truly believe that most people on planes are well-mannered people on the ground. That's why I know we can do better in the air(port)! So let's do this! Let's get those m@$%& jerks off the m@$%& plane!

What drives you crazy on planes? Comment below or find/follow me on Facebook.

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