I fly a lot for work and pleasure, and I’ve done what I can to make the experience as smooth and easy as possible. I have Pre-Check that makes security a breeze. I have status that sometimes gets me upgraded to business class for a more refined and relaxing experience. I have access to the airport lounge for some pre-flight decompression and a bathroom that isn’t some hellhole into humanity’s worst traits. In short, I make it work.
But not everyone flies all the time. Not everyone has the credit or funds to cruise through security and sip cheap white wine at an airport lounge before being stuffed into the back of a plane after everyone else has already claimed all the overhead storage. It’s a harrowing, stressful and dehumanizing experience.
That’s why we, as gentlemen, should do what we can to make life for others just a little better as we fly from place to place in high-speed tubes above the clouds. Here are 10 ways to do so.
By all means, take advantage of the beverage cart, but don’t overdo it. No one loves the loud, obnoxious drunk in 23C.
1. Help Others with Overhead Baggage
Boarding a plane is a stress-inducing game of luggage Tetris laced with a shot of pure survival skill. So if you have access, when you see someone looking to stow their luggage up above, offer to help. Whether the helpee is female or male, your quick wits and overhead strength will not only be a great gesture, but it will also keep the boarding line moving.
2. Shower Up and Groom Up
You may think that because you’re going to shower at the hotel upon arrival anyway, you don’t need to worry about this stuff, but think of the person crammed next to you. Take a shower, shave and wear something fresh. You’ll be more comfortable, your neighbor won’t hate you, and, who knows, a friendly gate agent might even decide Mr. Dapper deserves an upgrade today.
3. Don’t Be the Boozy Jerk
It’s tempting to throw a few back on a long flight, especially when they’re free. By all means, take advantage of the beverage cart, but don’t overdo it. No one loves the loud, obnoxious drunk in 23C. Self-control is key, gentlemen.
4. Be Considerate
There are things you can and should take advantage of if you’re due them: priority boarding, upgrades, pre-flight beverages, etc. But don’t be the guy who puts his bag above someone else’s seat just because it’s closer to the front of the plane. Similarly, don’t cut lines. All you’ll do is ruin other people’s days and slow everything down. You’re not that important, buddy. If you were, you’d be on your own jet.
5. Don’t Carry on Stinky Food
That burger joint at the terminal might be amazing, but don’t be the guy who plops an onion-doused, stinky ball of grease on his tray only to stink up the row. You can hold out for a few hours. Besides, that sandwich or salad is a heck of a lot more healthy, especially if you’re about to spend five hours on your ass watching bad movies.
6. Don’t Flirt Just Because You Can
If you’re lucky enough to be seated next to a hottie, give them space. Not everyone is looking to find their next love on a plane, so gauge their openness carefully. There are few things worse than being accosted by an over-eager Casanova when you have no escape route.
7. Look Back Before Leaning Back
Once you reach cruising altitude, you’ll surely want to lean back and do whatever you can to enjoy the flight. But before you push that button, take a look back at the person seated behind you. Give them a smile and let them know you’ll be leaning back. This will give them a chance to adjust their drink or laptop, or simply take some solace in the fact that you’ve acknowledged their presence.
8. Pee Considerately
If you’re a frequent pee-er, book an aisle seat so you don’t bother those in your row every time you need to go see a guy about a horse. If you’ve had a couple beers before boarding and you’re seated in the window seat, warn your aisle neighbor ahead of time with a little humor. That way they won’t be as annoyed once it comes time to take a 10,000-foot tinkle.
9. Keep Your Feet to Yourself
Taking your shoes off on a long flight can be a major relief, and we’re not going to get in your way when it comes to comfort. That said, if you must take off your shoes, be sure you’re wearing clean socks. Also, don’t put your shoeless feet up on the: bulkhead, back of seat, armrest, other person, etc. Keep them on the floor, where they belong.
10. Relax, Dude
You’re not the only person crammed into the plane. Keep this in mind as people ask to step over you for the bathroom, hand you their bag from the overhead bin, grab their empties for the trash cart, etc. We’re in this together, people.