1. Hungry before your flight and thinking of trying that hot
and spicy mystery sauce? An hour prior to departure on that overseas flight is
not the time to experiment with something new from the airport cuisine. I know.
I once scarfed down a roast beef sandwich with horseradish just before a flight
to Ireland. My stomach rebelled just as the engines kicked in and lasted until well after
we landed. I spent most of the flight out of my seat and chatting with the
flight attendants, who had their own seats nearby. We were practically on a
first name basis. As I waited my turns, one told me about her years of service
with different airlines and how their pensions have dwindled. The conversation
would never have happened had I not been trotting up and down the aisles. Was
it worth it? Not really.
2. Purchase water and snacks before boarding. Okay, these
things are overpriced. But on one flight the drink cart was just two rows
before me and then – the pilot announced turbulence, the cart was put away and
no water or soda or drinks for anyone. By the time the turbulence subsided it
was too late to bring the cart out again. This doesn’t always happen. But just
in case it does, you'll be prepared.
3. Sit as close to the front of the plane and on buses as you
can. Nothing worse than hobbling through the entire bus, banging backs of seats
and people with your bags. Or not hearing the bus driver recite important
4. Be friendly to your flight attendants: a hello, thank you
and goodbye and only ring the call button when necessary. On a recent flight, an
announcement was made before boarding that this was a full flight and
passengers in Zones Four and Zone Five were being asked to check their carry-ons.
Well, you know where I was! Zone Five. But of course!
Well, I was traveling with a laptop in my handbag/overnight bag and a carry-on with photography equipment
and there was no way I was going to check that. And if I tried to sneak past –
well, don’t try and get anything past a flight attendant. I politely approached
the counter and said, “Hello. As luck would have it and I’m in Zone Five. My
bag has camera equipment in it and I’m afraid to hand it over. What would you
suggest?” The flight attendant didn’t miss a beat. “Come see me after the Zone
Three has boarded.” Not only did I board earlier than my fellow Zone Fivers but
my bag was placed right above me, not 20 rows back. Hooray!
5. Turn off your cell phone. One flight attendant told this story, in her most charming Southern accent but in a tone that could cut a table in two, to one recalcitrant male who refused to turn his off in spite of several
announcements and personal warnings from her. She was on a
plane, she said, when an FAA inspector boarded. Every person he caught with his or her
cell phone on, she explained, received a fine. One man angrily announced that he
would not pay it. “That’s your choice,” the inspector said. “You’ll be banned
from flying on every domestic flight.” That, she said, was the end of the
conversation. The man on my plane turned his phone off. That was the end of THEIR conversation. But, in the meantime, a woman sitting next to me was
busy texting to her traveling companion one row over.
“Honey. Honey,” my now favorite flight attendant said.
“Please turn the cell phone off. These are FAA regulations.”
“I didn’t hear anything,” the young woman protested.
“Yes, you did,” the flight attendant said with an elegant firmness. “You chose to
ignore it. Turn the cell phone off. You have two choices. You can either turn
it off or someone will be meeting you at the gate.”
She still didn’t turn it off. “Yeah, yeah,” she said without looking up.
"Completely off or we can have someone meet you at the gate.”
My fellow passenger finally turned it off and stashed it in the seat pocket in front of her and closed her eyes with a sigh.
The flight attendant would have made a great dean. I thanked
her as I departed the plane. “You handled that beautifully,” I complimented. "I just
wanted to let you know that someone noticed.”
6. Save a stash of old clothes, socks, and underwear for
traveling that are still presentable and dispose of them instead of bringing
them home. Makes for a lighter suitcase and more room for souvenirs.
8. If you have cookies, I will find them.
9. Be careful of what you eat. It turned out that peanut butter
cookies were a treat for the birds. This might explain why Oscar, the African
gray parrot that whistles the theme song from Jeopard
y, gave me murderous looks and bit me twice.
10. Check with your host or hostess as to what is available to
eat. My uncle and aunt have a separate refrigerator set out on their sun porch for
sodas, drinks, and what I thought were plastic bins of cheerfully colored alphabet cereal. I was a
handful away from grabbing a few to munch on when I noticed the beady eyes of
Oscar trained on me. I looked at it again and decided to sniff it. Definitely
for the birds.
The morale of the story is:
Respect the flight attendants
and birds, check what you eat whether you’re in the airport or have your head
in someone else’s refrigerator, and when all else fails, you’ll be home before you know it.
Labels: airlines, airport, Arlene Schulman, cellphones, food, houseguest, Ireland, Jeopardy, parrot, souvenir, Tennessee, travel