The way the airlines board people is the stupidest way to board people that could possibly exist. It is so stupid that anarchy would work better. And apparently it has gotten even worse.
I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that. I’m sure you thought it was absolutely lovely the last time you had to board a plane. I mean, when I’m riding in business or first, I wonder why on Earth people complain (sips a cup of tea). People just get so… tetchy, you know (dainty bites of a gourmet cookie)? If everyone would just relax, it would go so quickly and smoothly (Flight attendant? Is there any more champagne for mimosas?).
Meanwhile, the last time I traveled it was in the economy section. This was what my breakfast on an international flight looked like:
Did I mention that when I asked for a mix of Sprite (referred to on South African Airways as lemonade) and juice to calm my stomach, the flight attendant just walked away without saying a word? When she came back to pick up the leftovers of glop, I asked her about my drink.
“We don’t have lemonade on this flight.”
And I didn’t get a drink. Plus the person in front of me must have eaten broccoli the night previous, because the amount of farting that took place was really over the top. I mean, once or twice we all understand. It happens. But at some point there needs to be a line drawn. I’m a prisoner in that seat while we’re in the air, and no one is served well if I die of asphyxiation.
But anyway, let’s return to boarding.
I am a huge fan of boarding on American planes (and flights in Japan are even better). There is a line. Hugely irritated people (gate fleas, which is a rude label I proudly embrace and will continue to embrace until the airlines figure out how to get my less-than-allowed baggage in my overhead no matter when I board ) stand around hoping to get into line in a position where they are able to put baggage in the overhead rather than having to gate check it. But here’s the deal – EVERYONE STAYS IN THEIR PART OF THE LINE.
As irritated as I get when I see that giant 4 pop up in the boarding zone of my ticket, it is nowhere near the irritation that reigns when I have to board a flight to or from Africa and there is a mad rush to the plane as soon as boarding for first class is called. It doesn’t matter what control is supposed to be in place – it is all thrown out the window at the first crackle of the gate speaker.
But still, my admiration for the willingness to follow the rules of the line aside, there must be a better way. I would gladly be the last person to board a plane if I knew that my backpack was going to have a place right above my seat (it’s been rifled through on a previous flight when it was placed in a different area of the plane).
Our family has tackled this issue by traveling as light as possible – usually a purse/laptop bag and a backpack of things to use if our checked bags are lost or stolen in transit. We still have to try and find space for our backpacks, though, and it has happened in the past that we’ve had to gate check them when the flight overhead bin space was full.
But really, airlines. We will be stuck in a metal tube tens of thousands of feet above the earth. It’s best if everyone tries to be in good humor and kind to each other. Let’s work on streamlining that boarding process, yes?
And then there’s this: rude flight attendants. I have to say that in all the travel I’ve done, I’ve really only encountered two flight attendants who were genuinely obnoxious and nasty. On the other hand, I’ve encountered horrible passengers on EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT I’ve ever taken. The ratio of crappy passengers to crappy flight attendants is totally skewed, and it isn’t the flight attendants who come out looking awful.
The most recent horrid flight attendant I had was a year-and-a-half ago on a South African Airways flight in business class. I know that it is gross when a child passenger throws up and it sucks when you have to work on Christmas Eve, but tossing a shotglass sized bottle of mineral water at me and saying, “Clean it up,” when I’m obviously already making that effort and could use at least a towel and additional puke bag to put the mess in would be nice.
In any case, I’m just going to pass on that article, because I think more good is done if we all read the one about how not to be a jerk on the airplane instead.