As many of you know, from time to time I wander from the dusty realm of workers' compensation topics in order to offer opinions and insight (what I believe to be insight, anyway) on important (at least important to me) topics of the day. This is one such moment.
As a so called “road warrior” who has spent his fair share of time stuffed in a metal tube hurtling through the sky with hundreds of strangers complaining about slow internet, I've accumulated a bit of experience that may be helpful to you. I have been able to identify a number of seemingly immutable laws of air travel, and thought I would take a few minutes to share them with you. Recognize that these laws are, as indicated, fully entrenched and unmovable in nature (hence immutable). You will not be able to change or avoid them, but it should still be helpful in understanding the rules of the road, er, rather, the rules of the air.
When a Flight is Delayed, It Is the Gate Agents Fault: I have little evidence that this rule is actually true, but it must be. Everyone yells at the Gate Agent when a flight is delayed, so by the law of sheer numbers it must be their fault that the weather was bad, or the plane breaks down.
The Distance Between Connecting Gates is Inversely Related to the Time of Your Layover: This simply means that the less time you have to change planes at an airport, the further your connecting gate will be. For example, if you must change planes in Atlanta, and have a 3 hour layover, then your connecting gate to the next flight will be right next to the one where you arrived; or it might be the very same gate from which you arrived. If you have 30 minutes or less, your connecting gate will be in Pittsburgh.
The Bigger the Backpack, the Smaller the Brain: We've all seen them. The Cro-Magnon's coming down the airplane aisle with the ginormous backpack still attached to their back. These are people who seem to be of limited cognitive skill, and therefore are full of bemusement and bewilderment surrounding the technology offered within the modern jet aircraft. Their limited ability to comprehend makes it difficult for them to take it all in. Therefore, as they traverse the aisle towards their seat, they look left and right, constantly turning from side to side. And with every turn, they hit some poor sap in the face with their oversized backpack, which they, of course, were too stupid to remove before starting this journey. Unable to understand that each dull thud is a connection with an innocent face, they obliviously continue to their destination. This situation is compounded on Southwest Airlines, where there are no seat assignments and these mental midgets have to actually make a decision on their own. It is not pretty.
Pigs Can In Fact Fly: The reality is that most people on an airplane are no different than you or me. They are decent people who have learned proper etiquette and are simply trying to schlep from one locale to another with as little hassle as possible. However, with the golden age of flying far behind us, there are some citizens, who have not yet learned the finer social graces, accompanying us on our high altitude journeys. Trust me, people who use the phrase “When pigs can fly” as a metaphor referencing the impossible have never been on a red-eye out of Las Vegas after a NASCAR Pennzoil 400 weekend.
Actually, that statement is not fair to most NASCAR fans; however, the one such red-eye I took is still to this day the only flight I've been on where a pillow fight broke out.
Still, people without shoes, or deodorant, or who drink far too much, or treat the flight attendant as their personal door mat are occasional reminders that pigs can indeed fly, and at times the modern jet aircraft can be reduced to nothing more than a Greyhound Bus with wings.
Some People Do Not Know What Flight Attendants Are For: And speaking of treating flight attendants poorly, this is something that ought not be done. They are not just there to bring you snacks and drinks and pretend they like you; they are there to save your life should something go tragically wrong. You should treat them accordingly. Along those lines, take off your headphones and pay attention during the mandatory safety briefing, even if you've heard it a bazillion times. It is just simple courtesy.
TSA Must Flub the Execution of Otherwise Good Ideas: The people of the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) have a difficult job. They must take massive groups of people who, prior to their arrival at airside security, have already been jostled, cramped, delayed and abused, and manage to make them even less happy than they were prior to screening. Yet, thanks to this rule, it is something they consistently manage to do.
Take the pre-Check program, for instance. It is a system that takes pre-screened, known travelers and moves them through an efficient line designed to ease the burden at security checkpoints. Yet, not satisfied with just letting experienced and pre-screened passengers use this proficient system, they randomly assign pre-Check status to inexperienced and otherwise unknown travelers. You can usually spot these people easily. They would be the ones trying to figure out how to get the live fish aquarium they brought along into the x-ray machine. Or the ones passing through the magnetometer with 40 pounds of silver jewelry on – and their cell phone in their pocket. Or the ones pulling everything out of their bag despite a TSA agent 3 inches from their face yelling “Everything stays in the bag!”
In-Flight Lavatories Were Not Designed for Human Use: This should be obvious to anyone who has ever been inside one of these infernal boxes. Designed for optimum use by anyone shorter than 5 feet and weighing less than 100 pounds, the airplane lavatory is, for most of us, a mini-torture chamber to be avoided at all costs.
Do you know they have a panic button designed to summon help in an emergency? I do. One time I accidentally pushed it with my ass while trying to get my pants off (True story. I had taken ill on a trip and was very much under the weather. We hit major turbulence while I was in there, strong enough for the Captain to order flight attendants seated. It was just like a rodeo, except there were no rodeo clowns to help me dismount).
Not Everyone on the Plane Wants to Listen to SpongeBob SquarePants: It never ceases to amaze me. I understand why parents bring videos to entertain their children; but I don't understand why they do not bring headphones for the effort. The result is everyone for 6 rows around them is forced to listen to SpongeBob or Kitty Boo Boo or whatever crap they are feeding their kids to keep them happy. It shouldn't be a matter of space. The extra large backpacks that are used to carry these video players should have plenty of room (that was a less than subtle connection to Rule #3, in case you missed it). These kids will grow up learning none of the expected social graces, they'll buy a ginormous backpack, and the vicious cycle will continue…..
And there you are. 8 immutable laws of air travel, and in the case of #7, far too much personal information. Do with this knowledge what you will.
As always, you are most welcome.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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