Over time I’ve developed a distinct point of view on driving in Los Angeles. I operate with the assumption that everyone is going to do the absolute worst thing at the worst time. Incidentally, this is sort of how I look at air travel. I just assume everyone is going to be rude, in a bad mood and hit me with their bag as they walk down the aisle to their seat. It’s Japanese middle management: there’s no way to win points, only ways to lose them.
That said I do assume everyone is just having a tough day and I try to cut them some slack. All we can do is be patient and gracious, and not let people’s bad behavior and sour moods pollute our day. A few years ago I wrote a version of this list below. The other day after thinking about it I dug it up only to discover it held up and much of this still feels right. I updated it and wanted to share this again in the hope that these thoughts can make travel a bit easier and less stressful for everyone. Hope you like it.
-Be overly nice. Treat the flight attendants, gate agents, skycaps, pilots and customer service helpers with courtesy and respect. You might be surprised at the virtuous circle it creates. We are all tired, stressed out and hungry, there’s no need to take it out on people who have to deal with travelers everyday.
-Relax and enjoy the ride. If the person in front of you doesn't recline, you shouldn't recline. If they do recline, you are free to do the same.
-Leg day. If you can't lift your bag into the overhead bin, that means you should be checking it. But that also doesn't mean you can't help people who need an extra hand. Imagine your mother on a plane traveling alone and act accordingly.
-No middle ground. The middle seat gets both armrests no questions asked.
-Bring hand cream. This is good and widely available. Hand sanitizer and the lack of humidity means your hands will get dry and uncomfortable at altitude.
-Pack a brown bag lunch. You will be really happy you took the time to do it.
-Don't be cheap. Always tip a skycap, the parking shuttle driver and anyone else who handles your bags. If you travel a lot they will remember you because of it. Related: carry some cash.