The Advice: Traveling on Airplanes

I can’t say I’m the best traveler ever, but I dare say I have my fair share of traveling with airplanes. I’ve flown with at least 10 different airlines and if you connect the dots of the airports that I’ve visited, technically I’ve flown full circle around the globe. I saw lots of travelers, both good and bad ones. Some of the bad ones seemed like they’re first time travelers, so they lacked the traveling etiquette. These bunch I can understand. But some others, some others were downright annoyance to other travelers. The worse thing is that you can actually tell that they’ve also done much traveling, but they’re just being ignorant.

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That being said, here’s a list of what I’d advise people to do when they’re traveling on airplanes:

1. Be on time for boarding process.
As much as the airline loves to leave you behind to stay true to their schedule, some will wait until the last minute possible. Especially if you’re a VIP guest (e.g. parliament or government members). Though this might be good for you, it’s never good for other passengers. Keep in mind that some of them might have to catch another flight and your delay in boarding always has that possibility to be translated to these people missing their flight.

2. Listen and follow the boarding announcement.
I’ve seen too many people, especially of my own country (yes, Indonesians, I’m looking at you), who would rush to get in the airplane right after the boarding announcement is made. This is not good. Especially if you’re going to board a big airplane (e.g. Boeing 777, Airbus 330, etc.). With these planes, for everyone’s convenience, usually the people who have seats at the back will be boarded first (right after the “special” passengers). What bothers me the most is that some airlines (including Garuda Indonesia, duh) don’t enforce their own boarding call. They announce boarding for back row, but they just let people in without checking their rows. If you got up and bunched up in front of the boarding door before your actual rows are called, you’re countering the intention of boarding call. You are one of the people who make airlines inefficient.

3. Request your seat upon check-in.
This is actually a bit trivial, but some people don’t know that they can do this. If you’re flying with full-service airlines, most of the time you can request your seat. If it’s still available, usually the check-in staff will be more than happy to assign the seat to you. Personally, I almost always request a window seat. Though I won’t be angry, I won’t like it if someone’s wife took my window seat just because she preferred it to middle or aisle seat (this is a true story). You can’t just board the plane and sit wherever you want, hoping that the person who has the seat would cordially give you the right to sit there.

4. Bring an appropriately-sized baggage to the cabin.
Most commercial passenger airplanes are designed to hold cabin baggage with limited size and weight. Your family and friends might’ve told you to bring something nice or delicious for them. Before you confidently say “yes” to them, take a look at your bags and think. Think and plan. People won’t care if your checked baggage is overweight or not, but if you bring loads of baggage into the cabin, you’re taking other people’s space. Yes, some passengers might travel very light, with no cabin baggage. Yes, the airline staffs might’ve seen your baggage and say it’s okay. But just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. Limit yourself to one appropriately-sized cabin baggage to be stored in the overhead bin and another small bag you can store under the seat in front of you.

So there you go, 4 points of my two cents I’ll share as a fellow air traveler. The bottom line for those points is basically try not to be an ignorant, selfish dimwit of a traveler. I won’t give “personal” tips, such as do online check-in, pack your clothes efficiently, and anything else along that line. Those tips can only help us on personal level and only an individual (you or me) would “suffer” for the consequences. But the ones I listed above have consideration for other travelers. Surely, if you want to be a decent traveler, you wouldn’t want to hinder or annoy other travelers. Until next time then!