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! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From the Airport

2012-11-15-20121115Travel_Infographic_Travel_Then_and_Now_FriendlyPlanetTravel-thumbIf you want to learn important life lessons all you need to do is spend some time at any airport. Consider it a course in Reality 101 where your classroom is the Southwest Terminal and your teachers are the educational stew known as your fellow travelers.

The first thing you’ll discover is that following directions is important and vital to your existence. You’ll also learn that a majority of the population can’t process information very well or as my son’s kindergarten teacher used to say, “everyone isn’t using their listening ears.”

I mean, come on, how many times do you have to be told to have your I.D. and boarding pass out to go through security? These instructions are not only on a continuous audio loop, but are on signage throughout the airport. Yet people are still stumped by this instruction and flustered to find out they have to dig out their I.D. to pass through stage one of the TSA experience.

Once that hurdle is successfully completed you learn the underrated, yet oh so very important, life skill that sometimes you are not an individual. You’re part of a herd. Most of us were raised to think we’re special, unique and one-of-kind. That’s all good until you do the death march known as putting your crap on the TSA conveyor belt. This is when you must do what everyone else is doing.

Don’t think you’re too important or too much of a free spirit to not follow the rules. Yes, you must remove your bulky sweater. No one cares that it was crocheted by Bakhankala tribal women and you consider it a hand loomed work of art that is much too precious to be shoved in an off brand Tupperware bin for a non stop ride through X-ray island.

All this “I’m special” behavior will accomplish is a disruption in the herd. Primarily because you will be slowing down the herd. Do not make the herd angry. Especially any herd member carrying a brief case and clutching a phone like it’s a primary source of oxygen.

Once you’ve finally cleared the security gauntlet and made it to your gate you will take a pass or fail test on patience (especially if you’re flying on American Airlines) because there’s always a chance your flight is delayed. You can either throw a fit or suck it up.

A person’s reaction to a time change in their itinerary is like an audible I.Q. test. If someone goes ballistic you know they’re an idiot with impulse control issues. Because if a flight is delayed screaming at a gate agent is going to be an act of supreme futility. They’re powerless. It’s like yelling at your television set because the your hometown baseball team is down in the bottom of the ninth inning. Your TV can’t control the outcome of the game and the airline employee at the counter can’t make the plane fly faster.

Your only choice is to accept that you’re trapped in the gate area that should more accurately be called a holding pen for humanity.  Don’t worry about being bored. This is when you settle in and observe the peculiar and sometimes disgusting behavioral characteristics of your fellow homo sapiens. Consider it an anthropology course and take notes under the heading – “Never Ever Do This.”

At the top of the syllabus is grooming in public. Here’s a quick pop quiz. Is trimming your fingernails acceptable behavior outside the confines of a bathroom? If you answered no give yourself a high-five because you’re smarter than three people waiting for the Frontier Airlines Flight to Phoenix.

Nail clippers are the ninjas of grooming implements. They should never be seen. Ditto for your nail remains. Why anyone would think it’s sanitary to prune themselves in public and then let their leavings jettison into the atmosphere for all to experience is beyond me.

I get it. Some folks, who pride themselves on multi-tasking, may be thinking, “Well I’ve already got my shoes off to go through security why not just take out my TSA approved nail clippers and trim that hangnail on my big toe.”

To these individuals may I suggest another mode of transportation that doesn’t require you to commingle with other mammals?

Alas, at least these creatures are using tools to trim their hooves. Prepare to avert your eyes as a man in a $1,000 suit uses his mouth to attack a cuticle and then spits it out all while taking part in a conference call on speakerphone. I hope you’re writing this down because it will be on the final exam – no one wants to hear your phone conservation.

I don’t care how fascinating you think you are being subjected to another person’s phone conversation is an auditory assault. For sure, I’ve make cell phone calls at the airport, but I, using the gift of sight, realize that I’m surrounded by other mortals and therefore talk in a moderate tone.

I don’t know why, but have you noticed that the people with their ears hermetically sealed to their phones at airports all seem to project their voices like they’re in a one act play? Forget Broadway if you want to see showmanship go to gate 34 at JFK on a Monday.

Let’s now move on to a life skills multiple-choice test. If a grown woman who is ambulatory, in seemingly good health, and is wearing fleece pajamas pants to the airport that are so long they’re getting stuck in her Crocs sandal she is:

A) Suffering from a crippling addiction to polyester fleece and rubber shoes

B) Just woke up from a slumber party at the airport

C) Given up on life

D) All of the Above.

If you answered D congratulations. Yes, all of the above are correct. Any healthy person over the age of 10 who can not sufficiently groom themselves, and by that I mean getting out of the p.j.’s when leaving their home, is indeed suffering from chronic life self-esteem issues and is in dire need of a fleece intervention which in my book takes precedent over a 12 Step Program for Crocs addicts.

Your airport class is now over. I urge you sign up for the “Boarding Your Plane” lecture. Don’t worry it’s not that hard. Everything you just learned has laid the foundation for success in this course of study.

The class will feature a shock and awe portion where you can behold people who can’t grasp the concept of how to properly line up to board a plane. Plus you can learn exciting aviation math. Here’s an equation for you.  A suitcase that can hold two months of clothes = not fitting in the overhead compartment no matter how hard a person attempts to cram it in there.

Air travel – where the learning never ends.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second 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! 🙂