Air travel tips for the terminally stupid

I had the misfortune to be caught in an airport during the snowstorm that just hit the U.S. northeast. Fortunately, I was able to put the time to good use by compiling this list of handy tips for airline passengers who are unable to notice the blindingly obvious.

First, when the ticket agent announces that boarding has been delayed, don’t immediately walk up to the desk and ask if the flight has been cancelled. If the flight had been cancelled, she would have said that the flight had been cancelled. The ticket agent is not trying to keep these things secret from you, and even if she were I think your interrogation technique would have to be a lot more sophisticated if you want her to spill her guts.

When they announce that boarding has started for first-class passengers only, do not get in line if you are not a first-class passenger. Doing so just makes you look stupid when they kick you out of line. Similarly, when they announce that general boarding will start from the line on the left, while executive club passengers will board from the line on the right (you know, the line with two different signs saying “Executive Club passengers only”), don’t get in the line on the right if you aren’t an executive club passenger. This also makes you look stupid. Bitching at the ticket agent when she tells you to get into the correct line makes you look like a stupid asshole.

You may notice when you get on the plane that one of the overhead luggage compartments is locked, has red crosses on it and labels saying “Emergency medical kit” and “Not for passenger use; flight attendant use only”. This means that…wait for it…the compartment is not for passenger use. Do not attempt to put your luggage in there, you great twit.

When the flight attendant asks you to put your tray and seat in the upright position and to stow your personal electronics, you may wish to consider putting your tray and seat in the upright position and stowing your personal electronics. Keeping your portable DVD player running on the tray table does not count, and is in fact an example of what is technically called being a deliberately obtuse shithead. Especially after the flight attendants have asked you twice.

On the customs form, the line labelled “Country of citizenship” should probably be filled in with your country of citizenship, and not left blank. Although I’m sure customs agents enjoy the occasional guessing game, such games slow down the customs process and make the 50 people behind you who are already four hours late because of the weather very, very sad.

And finally, when waiting for ground transportation you may notice that the occasional public transit vehicle has the words “Not in service” on the sign where the route is normally listed. This indicates that the vehicle is not in service. Do not attempt to board such vehicles. Not only will you be denied entry, but the driver will show a marked indifference to your angry complaints afterwards.

If you follow these tips, I’m sure that in a few short months you too will be able to recognize the blindingly obvious. Then when I finally snap and go on a murderous rampage (possibly involving rabid weasels) the next time I’m surrounded by the mindless sheep that pass for human beings in airports, you will be spared. Congratulations!

Can I get an “Amen”?

Yea, I don’t get it, did passengers get stupider or am I just noticing more? Last time I flew, oy…but in one memorable instance, they were boarding, oh, five or six rows at a time and there was this horde of people that kept trying to get through the gate, then they’d shout angrily when rebuffed, then they’d try it again next time they called out rows.

I think there are more and more travelers in the U.S. who don’t speak English and therefore are impervious to announcements and instructions. I’ve been in the same situation overseas, so I know what they’re going through, but it really is irritating when you see someone gabbing on a cellphone in a way expressly forbidden by air transport laws. I know I’m going to get roasted for this, but the worst offenders seem to be elderly Chinese women. They just sort of do what they want until someone stops them.

Running a close second are the fatheads who bring a carryon roughly 450% bigger than the overhead bin and too heavy to lift without busting a ligament. Why the gate agents permit this is beyond me.

Your seat is designated with a row number and a letter within that row. The row numbers are in strict numerical order. All rows are laid out identically. Your boarding pass is clearly marked with your seat designation. If you cannot find your own seat without help, don’t fly (the genuinely disabled excepted).

When you find your own seat, do not stand smack bang in the middle of the aisle to repack your luggage in the overhead locker, or to take off your overcoat, coat, jumper, scarf, vest, gloves, top hat, overpants, galoshes, balaclava, surgical mask, false teeth, contact lenses and wooden leg. Move into the space between the seats and do it there, unless you’re so fucking obese you shouldn’t be on the fucking plane in the first fucking place, for fuck’s sake.

Yea, seriously, what AndrewT said. It’s even worse because they only board a few rows at a time, so presumably, you’ve eliminated ALL THOSE ROWS WITH PEOPLE IN THEM! I don’t get people with seats in row 33, who start looking…no, reeeeeeallly inspecting…the row numbers after, like, 5. “Huh, 5A, no, we’re 33F…5B…huh!”

I dunno, personally speaking, I spend so much time staring at my boarding pass that I already know (roughly) where I’m supposed to be sitting. Usually I book my travel online, so I know the exact layout of the plane and where I fit into the grand scheme of things.

Kind of on topic…

The last time I went through customs was on a visit home a couple of years ago. My flight was from Tokyo to Newark (odd, considering my final destination was Minnesota). When I went through customs in Newark, I got in the U.S. citizens line. Since the majority of people on this flight were Japanese, the U.S. citizens line was naturally much shorter than the foreigners line.

It turns out that the older couple about five spots in front of me were actually from Germany. They had assumed that U.S. customs was divided into Japanese and Non-Japanese lines…

…and when they started complaining loudly, and the customs officer didn’t wait for them to calm down but in fact out-shouted them, that’s when I knew I was home.

Do NOT get me started on the apparently unsurmountable challenges of the I-94W Visa Waiver form. (For USers: It’s a green slip you fill out with little handy Yes/No checkboxes as to whether you intend to commit any crimes during your stay, are wanted for genocide etc. etc. For most European nationals, this and a valid passport will gain you entry to the US. No formal visa needed.)

The problem: There is a front and a back side to fill out. It says on the form. The cabin crew will remind you. There will be movies shown on the plane reminding you. There are signs reminding you. I have even seen airline employees mingling with the line in front of immigration, hammering home the point in several languages, including sign language. And yet - somehow 10-15 percent manage to only fill out the front and then either get mad at the agent when he tells them to get back in line and do the bloody paperwork or - even more annoying - they’ll borrow a pen and actually be allowed to hold up the line while they screw up their face in concentration, trying to remember the spelling of their name. PAY SOME ATTENTION!

Of course, I now have a Green Card and get to stand in the short line :cool:

Why oh why do people WANT to board first? You’re going to be stuck in that undersized seat long enough, so surely you should savour every moment of freedom. :confused:

The only answer I can give to this one is that if you board last you end up having to stow your hand luggage somewhere random on the plane, because all of the mouthbreathers who were allowed to bring 7 pieces of crap on have taken up all of the overhead space near your seat.

This is a real issue if you have to stow your briefcase 4 rows BEHIND your seat… you have to wait until almost everyone has got off before you can go and get your stuff.

I recall one time, sitting in my seat right after boarding in Amsterdam. I’m in seat 15G, right next to the window, reading a book and waiting for travel to commence. A lady who’s boarding late stops at my row.

  • “Excuse me sir. You’re in my seat!”
  • “Hi! I don’t think so ma’am. This is seat 15G. Are you sure?”
  • “I’m not an idiot. You’re in my seat.”
  • “Maybe there’s a misunderstanding of sorts. See, here’s my ticket… says seat 15G, right here, see?”
    <Stewardess walks up and asks if she can be of assistance>
  • “Yes, you can. This man is occupying my seat!”
    S: “May I see your ticket, sir?”
  • “Sure thing, here you go.”
    S: “You’re seated correctly, sir. Perhaps there’s a double ticket - can I see yours, ma’am?”
  • “Yeeeeeeessss… it says right here, look at it, SEAT G-15. I’m not a moron. I want my seat!”
    S: “Errr. That’s gate G-15, ma’am. Your seat is 34G. Please follow me.”
    Me: <desperately looking out the window to hold in my laughter, together with 20 people around me>


Just to show you that I, too, can be a dumbass: I flew into the US (Philadelphia) a few weeks ago to visit my (now) wife. I filled out my I94W like a good non-commie non-terrorist citizen from an extremely friendly country, but… I had forgotten to write down my wife’s new address (she recently moved). I had it at home, I just didn’t know it by heart yet, and should have written it down. And you need to write down an address on your I94W, even if it’s just a hotel. I thought for a bit, and filled out “Phoenix, AZ” (my destination).

The customs guy was not pleased, and in a rather dickheaded way told me I could not come into the United States (mind you, he was right, technically - there just wasn’t a need to be a dickhead about it). Luckily, I was sent to this special office where all the dumbasses go, and a more friendly immigration officer called my wife on her cell to confirm my claims that I was really visiting an honest to God US citizen. :slight_smile:

I have to admit I was the dumbass on my recent flight back to Paris from DC.

The plane was completely full and I had luckily snagged an Ecomony Plus seat right behind the business class partition so I had tons of legroom. I sat next to a very nice woman and she and I began to chat (similar life experiences, etc).

The flight attendents began their safety speech and we continued to talk (in subdued tones, of course). At the end of the demonstration, the flight attendent kneeled in front of us and said, “I’d appreciate it if you’d stop talking and listen to what we’re saying during the safetly demonstration. Even if you’ve heard it before, I’m sure there are others who have not and we’re trying to save everybody’s lives”.

I felt like SUCH an ass. She’s right, it’s common courtesy to shut your trap while they’re trying to work.

I thought the point was that they often did let people get away with this sort of thing, which is why people do it. After all, you do look stupid if you try and board before you’re supposed to, but OTOH, if you wait, and discover that everyone else has boarded before they were supposed to, and were let, and there’s no space for your luggage, and no seats, because planes routinely double-book, you might feel MORE stupid, though righteous…

Coldfire, how did the cell call settle the matter? Not that you would do this, but couldn’t it have been practically anyone on the other end? Like a terrorist with a sweet voice who said things like, “Why yes, I AM a US citizen.”? How did they know with just a phone call?

Lib, they asked for a phone number to call. I gave them my wife’s cell, and the officer called her to ask for her address, which he then filled out on the form.

I suppose that yes, that system IS vulnerable to fraud. However, had I filled out the correct address for the Holiday Inn in Phoenix, AZ, I would have been able to go on my merry way without any verification. That is to say, the system is flawed to begin with. But hey, at least they have my written word that I’m not wanted for genocide, which I guess is quite handy to know.

I never have this problem because I always shove my backpack under the seat in front of me. I’ve found that it makes flying far easier than if I put it in overhead. Heck, the last time I think I put it in overhead I was flying a bulkhead seat, which meant I HAD to put it into overhead. I hated every minute of that flight, though I was amused reading over the shoulder of the kid next to me who was reading a Creationist book on dinosaurs while I had my Bio 1 textbook out.

There’s no way you’ll have reached the gate without a space on the plane and your name on the manifest. Otherwise there’s be a slight security issue…
On the topic of safety announcements…I was on a Ryanair flight, and there were a couple of businessmen in about the second row. Businessmen hate to be seen flying with Ryanair, and they like to make their disdain obvious, in a “We normally fly business class” way.

They carried on talking to each other at full volume through the start of the safety announcement…the attendant stops the speil, asks for everybody’s full attention, starts again…they carry on talking. Stop, ask, start again. Still talking. By this point we’re at the end of the runway, stationary. As this is Prestwick airport, there’s no rush to take off. The attendent walks over to the two men, instructs them in a LOUD voice that it is her legal obligation to ensure that everybody is listening to the safety instructions, and their legal obligation to pay attention, returns to the intercom and starts from the beginning once more.

Those guys hung their heads like naughty schoolboys :smiley:

I suspect that most Americans have no idea just how stupid the I94W form actually is; here’s some of the questions on it:

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

This happened to mrs jjimm a few weeks ago.

Touching down in Dublin from Paris, someone’s cellphone went ‘beep’. The stewardess in the row behind mrs jjimm looked towards the general direction of the noise and said “please turn that off until you’ve been told you can turn it back on again.”

A guy in the same row (to whom I shall refer to as ‘Dickhead’ throughout) said “it wasn’t my phone”. A girl next to him said “yeah, sorry, it was mine. I’ve turned it off now.”

The stewardess said “thanks”, but Dickhead turned back to her and said “it wasn’t my phone. I deserve an apology.”

“Sir, I merely indicated the source of the noise and asked for the phone to be turned off.”

“No! You accused me! Apologise!”

“Sorry sir, I didn’t accuse you of anything. I have nothing to apologise for.”

Dickhead continued whining while the plane taxied to a halt, and as the passengers were standing up to leave.

Dickhead was directly in front of my wife as they were waiting to disembark, whining past her to the stewardess. “Say sorry! I didn’t do anything wrong! Apologise to me!”

After a further five minutes, mrs jjimm could take it no longer. “Look,” she said to Dickhead. “Why don’t you just shut up? She didn’t accuse you of anything, she’s just doing her job. She’s responsible for your safety, so show her some bloody respect!” The stewardess whispered “thanks”.

Dickhead then turned on my wife: “What business is it of yours?”

At this point an Englishwoman directly in front of Dickhead turned to him and shouted “because you’ve made it our business! I’m sick and tired of hearing your incessant whine! The stewardess did nothing wrong, and owes you no apology. So just SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

He didn’t say another word.

Girl power!

Applause for Mrs jjimm

[seinfeld]People, they’re the worst![/seinfeld]