Lack of Travel Etiquette, or How to Identify Those Traveling Jerks
My friend Beth writes a hilarious blog The Ref where she exposes people’s most obnoxious vices and describes the situations that annoy her most. And even though my blog is pretty positive, I’ll have to borrow her unique voice for this post, where I’m going to bitch about those traveling jerks who lack respect for other travelers.
Unfortunately, the end of my tolerance always comes during my trips to Russia. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and my people, but often times my compatriots happen to be among those who are just not bothered by the established rules. The Iron Curtain vanished 20 years ago, and the borders have been open for a while now, but many former USSR-ers still haven’t picked up the traveling etiquette. My only hope is that someone who will read this post will recognize him- or herself and be more considerate about other people during their future travels.
1. Learn English.
Please, please, please, learn English! How many times have I seen people miss their flights because they don’t know how to read information boards or ask airport staff for directions? Deal with reality! English is an acknowledged international language and if you want to enjoy your trip from the very beginning, know some useful phrases and be ready to think quickly.
2. Just say “no” to traffic.
When boarding has been announced, people tend to line up in front of the gate. Unlike in most civilized countries, in Russia, boarding is not conducted according to your group number, from the rear to the front of the plane. People board on a first-come, first-served basis. First, it creates an unnecessary traffic jam at the gate. Second, don’t even get me started on the chaotic boarding of the plane, when people sitting in the front substantially slow down the whole process by arranging their things and not letting anyone else move forward.
On my way from Moscow to Boston, I was waiting to board at the Domodedovo International Airport. When the boarding was announced, people formed a line, impatiently waiting to get on the plane. I guess the guy behind me wanted it the most. He kept pushing me, forcing me to move forward, breathing heavily in my neck, and bitching to his wife about the incompetence of the airport staff. He gave me a really weird look after I told him the plane wouldn’t leave without him. In the end, I just kindly asked him if he wanted to stand in front of me. Surprisingly, he agreed, even though there were 20 other people in front of us. Paradox!
3. Don’t drink and fly.
I’m so glad more and more airlines don’t allow passengers to consume their duty-free liquor on board. I remember the times when I was seriously scared to be on a plane, because groups of traveling rednecks would organize little whiskey fests on board, speaking rambunctiously, arguing, and sometimes even starting fights with other groups of drunken rednecks. It happened frequently, and sometimes still does, on charter flights to notorious Turkish and Egyptian resorts.
But even now, some traveling jerks think it’s OK to get wasted in the airport and then snore like a dinosaur next to someone who’s trying to rest.
4. Don’t risk it to get the biscuit.
Ok, the plane has just landed. People can’t wait to stretch after a long, exhausting flight. Some are anxious to see their loved ones. Some need to catch another flight. There are many reasons to be in a rush. But come on! If the flight attendant is telling you not to stand up until the plane comes to a complete halt, why on earth would you get up, open the luggage compartment and grab your bag right away? Not only do you endanger your own safety, you make everyone on the plane super uncomfortable and irritated.
5. Hey, no pushing!
Proceeding with the plane theme, please stop pushing people, trying to get to the front of the aircraft because your next flight is leaving in 40 minutes. First, it’s impossible to let you through because the hallway is too narrow. Second, most of us also need to catch connecting flights. Third, if you’re so nervous about missing your next flight, book them further apart and allow for more layover time. You’ll make yourself and everyone else happier.
On my flight from Moscow to Munich, I encountered a classic example of this kind of behavior. Some woman was actively clearing her path by throwing her elbows around. She kept yelling that her flight was leaving in 20 minutes. Someone suggested she already missed it because of all the necessary security procedures that might take a while. It didn’t work. Then someone else tried to reason with her by pointing at the bus that was waiting for the passengers to deplane and that would obviously not leave until the last passenger was on board. Nothing helped—she just kept making her way to the front. Well, I hope she made it to that flight.
6. Would you be so kind to move along?
When you do enter the bus after leaving the plane, please, don’t stop at the entrance—keep moving! There are other people behind you who need to get in! No, those jerks stop right at the door because they need to get off faster than everyone else. And when asked to move ahead, they look at you as if you asked them to give birth to a hedgehog.
7. I’ll cut you.
But the most annoying habit is cutting in lines. It just kills me, especially when people pretend they haven’t. I was standing right there and you came after me and stood up next to me and then smoothly cut in before me! I saw that, and you know that I did! I mean I’m a reasonable person, and if you really are in a rush, ask me politely to let you go first and I will, I promise! But pretending that you were standing there before and not giving a hoot about other people’s time is just the zenith of rudeness.
To sum it all up: next time you travel, don’t be a jerk. The world will be a better place, it’s nice, and you might even find that people are generally nicer to you.