Thanks for writing this Mark Stelzner...this is the story of my life! (aka I'm a fellow business traveler, who is working on getting his super-platinum-double-premier boarding group. Only a few thousand miles left to go!)
Remember that (not so great) movie several years ago which featured Tom Hanks living in an airport terminal? For the bulk of 2011, that has been me. And although I’m not exactly setting up camp at O’Hare or living out of a vending machine at Logan, I’m rapidly approaching 100,000 miles of domestic business travel so far this year. I know, I know… I live a glamourous life.
With the exception of the rare burst of wisdom from a drunken journeyman, much of my transit this year has been nothing short of horrific. Every trite travel truism you can possibly conjure has come into play as I’ve toured our great nation. As my frustration grew, I started to look for someone (anyone!) I could blame for my displeasure. It took a few strong in-flight beverages to deconstruct, but I’ve realized that you, fellow traveller, have behaved in seven ways that have destroyed my business travel bliss:
1. TSA What?
As if transported from an era when chiseled stone memorialized common knowledge, these wide-eyed newbies approach the security process replete with wonder and ignorance. “But I don’t want to take off my shoes.” “What do you mean I need to chug my Monster energy drink?” “A seven ounce tube of lube is against what rule, exactly?” These are actual words spoken by those line-jamming plebes who can’t comprehend the endless multi-media displays and government payrolled cattle herders surrounding every airport terminal. Welcome to the modern age and get it together people.
2. “Now Boarding…”
To you self-important and overly entitled status hoarders, I have a simple observation. Although you have chosen a life in the clouds over that of terra firma, stop acting like such assholes when your super-platinum-double-premier boarding group is called. Try and realize that the two dozen passengers you steamrolled with your siamese wheelie/laptop bag might not bow to your ascension to the top of the air jockey pyramid. Desperately crying out “Premier Executive!”, “Platinum!” or “Elite!” puts a target on your back that my venti latte may be magnetically drawn to.
3. “THAT SOUNDS GREAT!!”
I hate to burst the imaginary bubble you believe surrounds you and everything within a twenty foot radius, but I can kinda sorta hear every frickin’ word you’re screaming into your cell phone. Aunt Martha’s ass is still sore from her procedure? Got it. The big M&A transaction fell apart because the investment bank screwed up the valuation (with all firm names called out)? Bingo. Your client, the one accused of rape, was wearing a condom (followed by a big “Whew!” while fifty people wish you a slow death)? Roger that. You are in public. I can hear you, have a camera on my phone and immediate access to social media. Don’t make me break you.
4. Too Much Baggage
Welcome aboard and please be seated as quickly as possible so we can leave on time. Oh, and while you’re at it, pretend your overstuffed carry-on is a marshmallow that can be crammed into the tiny little spot that remains in the overhead. And if that magic trick doesn’t work, repeatedly slam the door until it breaks (which delayed my last flight), remove someone else’s nicely sized piece (causing a flight attendant to declare on a recent trip, “No way honey, get your shit outta there right now!” to applause) or just leave it jutting out and walk away. Passengers and crew alike are getting very surly and will jump on your ass in about two seconds on this one. And yes, I will laugh at your expense. Keep the entertainment coming fool.
5. Are You Comfy?
Ten minutes after takeoff and the little *ding* tells me it’s okay to take out electronics, and this being business travel, I need to get right to work by kicking open my trusty laptop. You, lovely person in front of me, decide that it’s your God-given American right to press that silver button and let gravity be your guide. And although I really don’t want the plane to turn around and jet fighters to scramble because I knocked on your head like a soft-boiled egg, how about we avoid the entire confrontation by you having a little courtesy for those behind you? Or maybe that’s too much to ask…
6. Lushes, Lovers and Losers
One of the beautiful (and occasionally nightmarish) things about modern air travel is the snapshot of Americana present on every single flight. Three of my favorites that I’ve recently encountered are lushes (including the drunk guy next to me who asked for two whiskeys and and shot of Patron, to which the flight attendant responded, “Sir, this is not a flying bar!“), the lovers (such as the couple next to me who nervously looked around while the woman pulled a blanket over her boyfriend’s crotch and they both started moaning) and the losers (like the creepy guy directly behind me who said, “It’s been years since I sat next to a pretty girl“, to which she brilliantly replied, “It’s been years since I maced someone on a plane“). By all means let your freak flag fly, just not in the friendly skies.
7. Get Me Off This Crazy Ride
Despite the first six eff-ups, somehow we manage to arrive at our destination intact and without bloodshed. Taxiing into the gate, cell phones get turned on, makeup is touched up, breath mints are popped and the tension builds toward the final battle – getting off the damn plane as soon as possible. Yet despite grade school knowledge of lines and the natural order of the seating, some people leap up as if cattle prodded, drag their 8,000 pound bag from the overhead and suddenly appear next to you with their chest heaving from the rush of it all. And God forbid the flight attendant asks that “you remain seated so that those with tight connections can make their flights“. Stay calm. Be polite. Wait your turn.
This has been quite cathartic, thank you. Despite my confidence that this is a good list, I’m certain I’ve missed some other gems which make your own travel a horror on high. Share your comments and stories below and I’ll see you at 35,000 feet.