The Yuck Factor of Flying is Getting Worse

When did we become a society devoid of being cognizant of our surroundings? And what has happened in the past decade to give people the mistaken belief that they possess a super power and are cloaked in a shroud of invisibility?

Nothing brings out these let’s call them personality foibles like sitting at the Southwest gate at the airport. Oh yes, you’re right I’m going to go off on airports – again. Sorry not sorry because the issues I’m about to delve into need to be discussed so corrective behavior can begin.

Let’s tackle the whole being cognizant of your surroundings first because this seems to be getting worse at such an alarming rate I fear I’m going to become some sort of rogue airport manners sheriff and end up in an altercation that might lead to me being arrested.

Lest you think I’m being overly dramatic I’ll give you a brief synopsis of what I saw earlier this month while seated in the gate area of three different airports. Behold the woman who took what looked to be every article of clothing out of her suitcase, laid these clothes out on the less than hygienic airport carpet and then began to use a battery operated sweater shaver on her clothes up to and including a bra.

For those of you blissfully unaware of what a sweater shaver is let me share that it defuzzes your clothes. I’m on team sweater shaver. I have one and love it. What I’m not on is team sweater shaver at the airport.

Besides the yuck factor of having your clothes mating with the floor of the Southwest gate area there’s the inappropriate nature of doing personal laundry care in a public venue.

While this was unsettling it had nothing on the woman gleefully plucking her companion’s ear hairs while seated at a restaurant inside LAX or another woman pumicing her heels because nothing says, “I value public health” like jettisoning your hoof detritus into the atmosphere.

Because I’m now a little nauseous let’s move on to the truly disturbed masses that believe they’re invisible thus enabling them to Facetime their loved ones, a doctor, co-workers and perhaps even a telemarketer while waiting for their plane.

I know the whole talking on speakerphone in an airport is nothing new but this assault on the ears on the traveling public has reached an epidemic.

What must have happened to someone to make them believe that putting their phone on speaker and shouting into while corralled in a public space is okay? My theory is these speaker shouters are narcissists.

This behavior fits the classic narcissist profile where the person has an expectation of special treatment and an insatiable appetite to be the center of attention. There’s nothing that says “look at me” like having a “yellversation” on speakerphone at Gate 35 at KCI.

You know how some people have a travel bucket list? Well I also have one and it’s not to walk the Great Wall of China or to scale Everest (hard pass). On my bucket list is to start telling people to rein in their desire to do laundry remediation, eradicate wayward hair follicles and purge their foot funk while at the airport.

I also would love, really love, to tell the speaker phone aficionados to turn down their phone volume and comport themselves in a manner that doesn’t scream, “I might need counseling.”

I’ve never seen the Great Wall but I’m thinking to be able to be the “Manners Sheriff” at the airport just might top that experience.

I Spent My Christmas Morning With The TSA

I spent my holiday brescreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-24-16-amak traveling and as always it was an education. First, who knew that the airport would be packed on Christmas morning, like the hordes hauling ass from a zombie apocalypse packed. I  mistakenly assumed that December 25 would find most families at homes with their loved ones not exchanging tidings of comfort and joy with the TSA.

The vast number of people traveling at 10 a.m. so flummoxed me that I began doing a little Q and A. I thought, perhaps, the majority of travelers were doing a last-minute rush to grandma’s house, but no, based on my research it seemed that most people were at the airport to flee their family, not reconnect.

When I shared my research with my son he nodded his head and remarked, “Yeah, it’s the perfect family dodge. Oops sorry can’t do the whole Christmas day thing. I’ve got a plane to catch.”

His quickness in embracing the “family dodge” gave me a momentary feeling of panic as in I think I’m going to be seeing a “family dodge” from him in my future. So, I did what any mother would do a preemptive strike.

“I’m just going to let you know right now that if you ever schedule a flight on Christmas morning in an effort to avoid me I’ll just find another way to seek out the pleasure of your company like say staying with you for a couple of delightful weeks in the new year”

My college aged son got pale. Yep, he got the message.

As I sat in the Southwest terminal I began to get overly nosey of what my fellow passengers back stories were. I knew why I was here on Christmas. Two words – cheap fares. Were all of us mulling around gate 40 guilty of sacrificing the sanctity of a Christmas morn to save a couple of bucks? If so did that make us thrifty or holiday spirit hum bugs?

I’m totally going with thrifty with maybe a side of “I’m so over the holidays.”  I could tell a lot of the passengers had reached their limit on the ho, ho, ho of it all simply by their seat selections on the plane.

For example, If you’re a family that has a C boarding pass on Southwest than that means no way, no how, do you want to sit together or even be in the same general vicinity. A C boarding pass all but guarantees you’ll be shoved in a middle seat and you won’t see anyone you share DNA with until the flight lands.

An even bigger cry for alone time is when you get yourself a Southwest business select ticket thus allowing you to board first and the rest of your family is stuck with B 28, 29 and 30. Please don’t ask me how I know this and spoiler alert I was B 29.

And you know a mom has really hit the holiday wall when as the rest of her family is taking advantage of the early boarding she skips out for a “last minute bathroom run” while encouraging her family to get on the plane. When she finally boards there is no seat remotely by her family and she spends the entire flight blissfully reading a book in the back of the plane while her husband handles the kids in the bulkhead.

Not exactly warm and fuzzy Christmas morning moments. But, anyone who’s honest will tell you that there is a portion of the holidays that are more about surviving than enjoying. And a packed plane with “limited drink service due to turbulence” is definitely one of those moments.

 

The Wind Beneath My Wings or How Not to Get Screwed Out of a Decent Seat On Southwest Airlines

illustration-crammed-plane-590-590x428There are a myriad of skills parents have to teach their children. We all know what the big ones are, but it’s the, let’s call them the lesser skills, the ones that don’t even make the Top 10,000 Things Every Kid Should Know Before They’re 18 list that I have spent the summer working on with my daughter.

The two of us have been traveling a lot together and I’ve seen this as an opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge on all things related to Southwest Airlines. Most importantly, I’ve been educating her in the ways of successfully securing the least annoying seat on a Southwest flight.

If you have an expense account where you can pay the $12 “early bird check in” to ensure you’re the first to get on the plane then this is not news you can use. But for folks who like the adrenaline rush, the almost gambling high, the roll of the dice, if you will, of being perched on a computer exactly 24 hours before your scheduled departure time pleading at your screen “Come on baby, give mama at least an A 20 boarding pass” then prepare yourself for a teachable moment or two.

In fact, responsible seat gambling is the first area I instructed my daughter in. You don’t want to be the idiot, the wanna be “whale,” that throws caution and common sense to the wind and favors taking a dangerous spin on the Southwest roulette wheel of boarding by checking in the day of your flight, or worse, at the airport.

It’s like rolling snake eyes because all you’ve “won” is probably the dreaded C 30 and beyond seat designation. If this happens may God have mercy on your soul and most assuredly your spine that’s going to be getting an origami beat down in the middle seat.

Now, just because you have what I would call a “high value” boarding pass doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.  Only the lazy or novice traveler would take their A 18 as a sign to relax.  What an experienced Southwest warrior does is use the pre boarding time to assess the fellow passengers herding around the gate.

There are personality types that I’m always on alert for and try to avoid once I’m on the plane and praying for an aisle seat. Of course, everyone knows to beware of sitting anywhere near a small child. If I can, I like to put at least a five-row boundary between me and the 5 and under set.

Extra caution must be exhibited towards any parent who already has on noise canceling headphones before boarding the plane and does not seem to be carrying so much as a board book or a Cheerio for their little one.

Almost as bad as a bored child who thinks kicking your seat is “awesome” is the Grumpy Business Traveler. This person, usually a guy, seems super ticked off he’s stuck flying with the general public in cargo class adjacent conditions. His audible sighs and reluctance to get off his cell phone combined with acting like he called dibs on sticking his legs in the aisle the whole flight =  jerk alert.

I’ve also been schooling my daughter to always be scanning the passenger horizon for the bubonic plague, TB or Ebola nomad. Also know as the open mouth cougher and/or full frontal sneezer. These fools act as if they’re in training for some sort of disease decathlon where their bodily fluids are being measured for distance traveled, velocity, and force.

Any intrepid traveler knows it’s not just what you see. It’s also what you smell. When everybody else is lounging in the gate area you should be taking a stroll with your olfactory senses at Defcon 5 as you sniff out the discernible odor passenger.

It’s not just B.O. I’m talking about. One time a woman had so much Joy perfume on I thought the flight attendants were going to suggest the pilot do an emergency landing.

The most irritating passenger, by far, is the hoarder. We all know these humans. They’re the ones that think carry on limits are for suckers. Last month, a lady on our flight to L.A. had a suitcase so stuffed it looked like she was partaking in the human trafficking of Santa Claus. She was also lugging a backpack and a cooler.

I pointed her out to my daughter and shared that no good ever comes from a carry on cooler. She gave me some sanctimonious grief that maybe the cooler had an organ donation in it or something.  When we got on the plane this woman had opened her Igloo and was laying out a feast of assorted foods that smelled like death running a marathon in Texas without a liberal application of deodorant.

I gave my daughter a nudge and whispered, “mother knows best.”  She would have responded back, but it’s hard to talk when you’re covering your mouth and holding your nose.

 

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have anew book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Walmart With Wings

Quotation-Douglas-Adams-humor-language-travel-pretty-earth-expression-Meetville-Quotes-53237-1Raise your hand if you remember wearing your Sunday best to travel on an airplane. I can even recall going shopping with my mother for my plane outfit. It was a big deal to go up, up and away. Now air travel is like Walmart with wings. Last week, I was at the LAX Southwest terminal and you know the People of Walmart website, well I was thinking of starting the Passengers of Southwest Airlines site and it would give the Walmart one some serious competition.

I’d have one category on my site solely for people who travel in their pajamas. Is it just me or does the number of adults (mostly woman) wearing their pajamas in the middle of the afternoon to catch a flight to Dallas give you pause? Like you couldn’t at least have pulled on a pair of track or yoga pants. Same concept – there’s no buttons or zippers to stump you. It’s just stepping into two leg holes and using a modicum of upper body strength to hoist those bad boys up. During my flight delay (of course) I entertained myself by counting the number of fools wearing pj pants and flip-flops. I stopped at 14.

And don’t get me started on the morons who drag pillows and blankets through the airport. Longtime Snarky readers know I have ranted about this before but I firmly believe placing your pillow or blanket on the bacteria collector known as the TSA security conveyor belt should be classified as a terrorist threat. That thing is ground zero for some sort of toxin that will take out half of the West coast. What is it about grown ups needing a full size pillow and a blankie on a plane anyway?

I get the travel pillow. It’s discreet, fits in your carry on and is hermetically sealed. Adults clutching a king size pillow as they wander through an airport makes me a little nauseous. Like literally my gag reflex kicks in. I watch in horror as they take the pillow into the restroom and in one case I saw a woman place her pillow on the floor of the stall (give me a second as I fight through the urge to hurl).

This same woman then took her foul, pathogen laden public restroom pillow into the Southwest terminal Starbucks and laid it on the table! THE TABLE. For this act alone she should have been arrested and charged with endangering the health and safety of her fellow travelers. Thank the lord she and her pillow were not on my flight.

And while I’m counting my blessings, another thing I’m thankful for is that talking on your cell phone is not yet allowed on planes. Because I doubt the science to back up the FAA’s claim that it’s dangerous. Well, it’s dangerous but not in the FAA way. The danger stems from fellow passengers losing their mind and getting violent over the idiot that won’t shut up and get off their phone.

I’ve had to do some cleansing breaths and self medicate with Chips Ahoy’s just from being next to a goober who is in super chatty cell phone mode and with great delight and gusto carries on a phone conversation, about their mole or the size, color and shape of their bowel movement. I tell you when this happens I’m living for the announcement from the flight attendant telling everyone to turn off their electronic devices. What they really need to say and I think this would also make excellent signage for the overhead compartments: People of Earth – just because you have a cell phone doesn’t mean you have to use it. You’re not that fascinating or important. Turn it off.

In fact, I think if and when the non-stop cell phone use gets the green light I might have to seriously rethink air travel. I’m already half way there due to the food carry on. There should be some kind of smell limit (let’s call it a odormeter) that your food can’t exceed if you wish to bring it on the plane. I don’t even have that sensitive of an olfactory system. (Hello, mother of teenagers here. I’ve got a nose that can handle boy feet.) But there’s been some food people have brought on planes that almost did me in.

For example, who carries onto the plane a sushi sandwich that smells like B.O. and decomposing dolphin? (Not that I know what decomposing dolphin smells like but I think I’m taking a pretty good guess here.)The answer to that question would be my seat mate on a flight to New York. I had to go into emergency triage mode and use my scarf, and a one-inch stack of antibacterial moist towelettes (I always travel with a pack) to fashion a breathing mask over my nose and mouth.

Now you would think this would be a clue to my seatmate that he was causing his fellow passengers (or at the very least and most importantly me) great distress, but no. He continued eating and then proceeded to experience extreme flatulence issues. To survive I kept squirting my Bath and Body Works travel size lemon hand gel into my moist towelettes and had to take cleansing hits just to get through the flight. When that stopped working I went to Plan B, which was inserting the hand gel directly into my nose.

Oh, and of course the guy had a pillow which he was using as a lap tray for his food. What do you wanna bet it had also enjoyed quality time on the men’s room floor. Ugh.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

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