Stale, unwashed socks with a hint of gym sweat: That was the aroma I could smell as it started to take over the shared air before we even reached cruising altitude. I craned my neck back and forth, trying to identify the culprit.
"Who would take their shoes off on an airplane?" I wondered. Don't people realize this is public transportation? Key word being "public?"
I leaned over toward the aisle, still trying to scan the plane for the shoeless human who was now making my nose cringe with the thought of two hours of that smell. Without any luck, I decided to give up.
"Another day, another flight," I thought to myself. Hopefully, the smell would dissipate instead of linger.
I'm a frequent flyer. However, I'm well aware most people are not.
For most people, flights are nerve-wracking and exciting. Airports are overwhelming, and local TSA agents don't recognize you on a weekly basis. I try to be patient since I know that what is the norm for me is a rarity for so many others.
With that being said, here are a few things to keep in mind on your next flight:
1. Airplanes are a means of public transportation.
Taking off your shoes should be done in the privacy of your own home, not in public, while sitting an inch away from a stranger.
2. Your fanny pack, mini backpack and small designer duffle bag are meant to fit underneath your seat.
The overhead compartments are designed for small luggage. They're usually carried by business travelers who need to exit planes quickly and store their luggage without checking it.
This space is not meant for your hoodie, cross body bag, family camcorder and tripod. Those go under your seat.
3. Please don't ask to switch seats with me.
If you want a window, book a window. Also, when you ask me for my window and I say "no," don't be offended. I handpicked my seat. Often times, I even paid for it.
So, I definitely don't want to switch. Furthermore, if you're in the middle seat and I'm the window seat, no: It's not OK for you to just slide on over, instead of standing up to move out so that I can get to my window seat. I want the seat I picked.
Typically, a gate agent can assist you in finding a new seat if you're unhappy with the one that has been selected for you. Please don't make me feel guilty for not letting you sit in my seat.
4. Flight attendants are actually not waiters.
They are there to keep us safe and offer us small beverages so that we don't totally dehydrate while we're flying in that giant aluminum tin can. They are not there to offer you eight different drink selections, serve you shots of whiskey or assist you in finding a meal plan that works for you.
So, the next time the flight attendant tells you that the airline has run out of the Bloody Mary mix you like, maybe second-guess that eye roll you're about to give.
5. Complaining about the flight, the time, the delay, the stewardess, your seat or your seatmate isn't going to change it.
Flight delays are often inevitable, depending on the weather or where the plane is coming in from.
There are tons of amazing apps and flight trackers available, so you can plan ahead to see if your flight has been delayed before you cause a scene due to a delay that the rest of us knew about since the morning.
6. Many airlines actually give out free headphones to passengers these days.
This is for a reason. I don't want to hear the click, click, click as you type your farewell text to your loved one, nor do I want to hear your 4-year-old play games on your iPad for two hours in the air.
Phones and tablets have mute buttons for a reason, and headphones are there as a courtesy for those of us around you who are trying to sleep, work or read without your life playing in the background
7. Let's talk about exiting the plane.
Typically, we all exit out the door that is near the front of the plane. This means we proceed in a single file exit procedure that involves the passengers at the front of the plane exiting first. Unless you have an exceptionally close connection or emergency, there is no reason for you to rush to the front of the plane in order to try to exit before me.
Again, plan your seat accordingly. Know that the back row exits last. Be patient. Just like we all got on the plane, I promise you, we will all get off.