I impart to you ten of my observations of travel over the years which seem to prove themselves to me over and over again. Keep in mind that this list of ten items is not exhaustive by any means — I did not even touch upon rental car and hotel experiences — and, as they say: “your mileage may vary.”
1. My seat is the only one missing the in-flight magazine.
In the in-flight magazine of one particular airline, I enjoy doing the crossword puzzle. If that magazine is missing from the seat pocket in front of me and I am one of the first to board — or if the crossword puzzle had already been completed — I will search the other seats for a magazine with the crossword puzzle untouched? This one? Nope — crossword puzzle has been completed. This one? Nope — that page was torn out of it. What is that disgusting stuff all over this one? I ain’t touching that! Of course, I can always ask a flight attendant — and I do in extreme circumstances — but I would rather not bother him or her.
Fortunately, this issue — pun intended — becomes less important when I have a portable electronic device with me on which I can play electronic games and listen to music, which is important to me.
2. On an airplane which is not full, the middle seat next to me will not remain empty.
“Look forward and behind you on the airplane”, I think to myself. “Every aisle seat and window seat is occupied.” A final passenger boards the airplane and is told by a flight attendant to choose any seat. “No. Not here. Please do not choose this seat next to me. There are seats closer to the front of the airplane. There are seats closer to the — aaarrgh!”
Perhaps a middle seat is considered preferable to some passengers — especially when I am sitting next to it for some inexplicable reason?
Bonus points if that passenger is chatty or clearly has poor hygiene.
3. Delays resulting in the airplane needing to be de-iced.
Delays at an airport during cold weather will usually be long enough that the airplane will need to be de-iced just as it is next in line at the runway for take-off.
Bonus points if the airplane on which you are a passenger had already been de-iced once…
…but if this happens during the summer at an airport near the Equator, you have some seriously bad luck.
4. The overhead storage bin above my seat is completely full.
Yes, I know there are ways around this inconvenience — but it always seems to happen when I am carrying more that I usually do, no matter when I board the airplane.
Fortunately, I rarely carry more than I usually do aboard an airplane; and I have no desire to engage in the wars over the overhead storage bins which seem to occur…
5. When the aircraft arrives early, it is time to play musical gates.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have arrived 45 minutes early — but our gate is not ready yet. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until the Fasten Seat Belt sign is turned off. Thank you.”
By the time it has been determined that the original gate assigned to our flight will not be available anytime soon and after circling the airport or sitting in the “penalty box” waiting for a gate to open, 90 minutes will have elapsed.
One corollary to this is if you have someone waiting to pick you up, you will be greeted with that quizzical look on the face of that person — accompanied with the ubiquitous “I don’t get it. It says here that your flight arrived early. What happened?!?”
6. The passenger seated in the aisle seat decides to wait until everyone else leaves the airplane.
This is especially true when I am seated in the window or middle seat in that same row. I am not sure why someone would do that. Is that person so comfortable in that economy class seat that he or she wants to savor it as long as possible? “Man, I just had the most comfortable coach seat in which I have ever sat — and I don’t want to leave it!” Is there something awaiting that person outside of the airplane that he or she does not want to face? Is that person just being polite to the other 150 fellow passengers aboard the airplane?
If I am in a hurry, I will politely ask that person to allow me to pass through; and usually, that works.
I am working on an upcoming article pertaining to the etiquette of leaving an airplane once the flight has concluded. That should be interesting…
7. The airport in another country at which I arrive will only have one or two lanes open for customs for foreigners.
You do not realize just how many people exist in this world until you are one of the passengers of several wide body airplanes from all over the world which happened to arrive at that airport within 15 minutes of each other; and everyone has to queue for the one or two lines for customs.
There are three corollaries to this law: even if I am the first person off of the airplane, the passengers of ten other airplanes which just landed are already in line ahead of me; residents of that country seem to have a choice of ten open empty lanes from which to choose; and somehow, the reverse effect seems to be true whenever I return to the United States…
…although I must admit that since kiosks have been installed in the Immigrations and Customs areas at airports in the United States, being processed has been significantly faster for me.
In a recent article, I asked if there should be four types of lanes for the Pre✓ program operated by the Transportation Security Administration; and I am wondering if something similar should be considered for Immigrations and Customs areas at airports.
8. The airport shuttle bus which I want will not arrive right away.
Whether the shuttle bus at the airport is for parking, a hotel, or a rental car company, I can be assured that I will see two or three shuttle buses from its competitors before the one I want arrives.
There are two corollaries to this observation: one is that the shuttle bus I want will have just left by the time I arrive to catch it; and the other is that the wait for the shuttle bus which I want will be proportional to the duration of the flight on which I had just been a passenger.
One example of that experience is documented in this trip report for a recent hotel stay in Spain; although I do admit that the experience was partly my fault.
9. My car will be the last stop on the shuttle bus at the parking lot.
Whenever I return from a trip, I want to get to my car as soon as possible — but no matter how many passengers are on the shuttle bus, mine is usually the last stop.
In the meantime, I get to enjoy the grand tour of the parking lot. I also get to witness the passenger with ten huge bags and a kitchen sink who boarded the shuttle bus after I did slowly unload and search for their keys while still on the bus. Hey — isn’t that the person who hogged that aforementioned overhead bin on my flight?
I suppose I could pay extra for covered parking or handsomely tip the driver of the shuttle bus — or perhaps consider using a service such as Uber…
10. A smoker will light up his or her cigarette next to me.
Regardless of the length of the airport terminal, that person having a nicotine fit while I am outside waiting for that shuttle bus will choose the spot right next to me to smoke — and the implement of choice is always a traditional cigarette and not an electronic cigarette.
There are two corollaries to this observation: one is that the wind will always blow in my direction so that I may enjoy the second-hand smoke to its fullest; and the other is that if I move away, a second smoker will camp out right next to me at my new location.
What about you?
As I said, I realize that ten observations may not be nearly enough and is far from exhaustive, so I will turn to you: what observations of travel have you experienced which you would add to this list?
Written by Brian Cohen, The Gate is a blog dedicated to news and opinions related to frequent travel loyalty program miles and points, the latest news pertaining to travel and dining and quirky trip reports. Brian has been a moderator on FlyerTalk since 2004 and is also a member of Milepoint. The Gate was one of the original weblogs of BoardingArea.