How Not to Be a Jerk on a Plane
It seems as if hardly a week goes by without us hearing about another incident of bad behavior on an airplane. In January, for instance, a San Francisco-bound flight from Australia had to turn around and make an emergency stop in New Zealand because a man in a middle seat became irrepressibly enraged—swatting at the beverage cart, delivering a loud tirade to the other passengers, speaking offensively to a flight attendant. News reports say he was in the middle seat and was upset because people on either side were having a conversation over him.
Every study and report that travel companies release indicates that air travel is on the rise. An increase in the number of aircrafts and routes and the boom in budget airlines make travel more accessible to everyone. That means flights are dependably more crowded, with jostling for overhead bin space. And with all the air traffic, waits on tarmacs can be epic. People are anxious about missing their connections and some are just anxious because, well, flying does that to people. Tensions are high for those reasons and others. It doesn’t take much to make a person snap. And anger and distress begets anger and distress.
According to the International Air Transport Association, a trade organization, the number of violent in-flight confrontations is on the rise. A recent report says that the number of air rage incidents last year totaled 10,854, up 14 percent from 2014. Flight crews categorize air rage in one of several categories: belligerent behavior, emotional outburst, noncompliant behavior, and incidents involving drugs, alcohol, smoking, or sex. According to a report published in May 2016 by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, belligerent behavior and intoxication were more common in first class, whereas emotional outbursts, such as a panic attack, were more common among economy passengers. What’s more, an outburst by an economy class passenger is almost four times as likely to have an air rage incident if they’re on a plane with a first-class section. Interestingly, though, according to the study passengers are about two-times as likely to have an outburst if they boarded through first class (vs. boarding in the middle of the plane).
But there are ways to keep calm at 36,000 feet and ensure that others around you do the same so that everyone arrives safe in mind and body. We checked in with Lizzie Post, president of The Emily Post Institute, host of the “Awesome Etiquette” podcast, and great-great-granddaughter of the legendary etiquette doyenne Emily Post. Here are her tips.
WHAT EVERY AIRLINE PASSENGER SHOULD DO
1. If someone beside you is noticeably anxious because, for instance, of fear of flying, wait a minute to see if it passes, then ask the person if conversation helps or if he’d rather be left alone to breathe and relax.
2. If you feel endangered for any reason by a fellow passenger, quietly and patiently get up and speak to a flight attendant. Tell him or her the person next to you is agitated and you’re uncomfortable. Ask if there’s anything they can do to help your seatmate or, if it’s really bad, can you change seats. Post notes: “Be careful what level of responsibility you put on a flight attendant. They’re there to help. Let them know the situation, but speak in a calm and gentle way while seeking sympathy and support, rather than getting angry at them.”
3. When it comes to the nagging issue of reclining seats in the cramped surroundings of economy class, if the seat in front of you is reclined and it’s really interfering, instead of asking the passenger simply to put the seat up, it is preferable to first establish that you’re not being too self-centered and demanding and ask if, for instance, they can put the seat up for a little while, like, for instance, when the drinks are served.
Remember, Post says, “it’ll all be over in a few hours and don’t forget that you can get up and move around to counteract how much time you spend with the person’s head in your face.”
WHAT EVERY AIRLINE PASSENGER SHOULD NEVER DO
1. Whatever you do, do not address an irate stranger on your own. “Safety trumps etiquette,” Post insists. So rather than telling someone who’s upset that she needs to sit and be quiet, seek out help from a flight attendant.
2. To avoid rustling the feathers of a potential whiner in the seat behind you, don’t recline, if you can help it. You might call this the "martyr's approach" to a pleasant flight.
3. While you can always make a polite request if a person in front of you has the seat down, do not, under any circumstances, get ticked off if your request doesn’t work. “Every person purchased a seat and they’re allowed to use all its functions,” Post reminds.
5 Big Travel Myths, Debunked
Myth #1: Travel is sooooo expensive You can imagine that, with a name like Budget Travel, we take this myth personally. Sure, a city like, say, London is home to sky-high hotel rates. But even that European capital, like most places on your list, can be brought down to earth with the help of smart research, package tours (where rock-bottom airfare and hotel rates are often bundled into the package), and taking advantage of the luxurious freebies and bargains that can be found almost anywhere. READ: The 25 Absolute Best Money-Saving Travel Tips Ever. Myth #2: Managing rewards points is a headache It doesn’t have to be. Truth is, the rewards points systems you enter when you sign up for a frequent-flier program or mileage credit card can be confusing, but that’s why we’ve devoted considerable resources in scoping out the best programs and the best techniques for holding on to your points and using them in the most dream-fulfilling way possible. READ: Biggest Reward Program Blunders and How Not to Make Them. Myth #3: Lodging is too expensive for big families Well, ok, hotels can be expensive. So… try a vacation rental instead! If your brood won’t fit comfortably into one hotel room, chances are you’ll save big by renting an apartment or home where you can do some of your own cooking (and add, say, Italian cooking lessons to your itinerary in Rome!), get more elbow room (maybe even a backyard for the little ones to frolic in), and save big. READ: Read This Before You Book a Vacation Rental. Myth #4: “All-inclusive” actually means “all-inclusive” Ahhh. The words sound so lovely. And the experience of not having to reach for your wallet while on vacation is enticing. But… When you book a cruise, make sure you read the fine print (or get on the phone with a customer service rep) before clicking “book.” In many cases, top-shelf drinks, certain restaurants, and other experiences may cost you extra, and finding out before you buy is always nicer than finding out when they hand you the bill. READ: All-Inclusive Vacations: The 7 Questions Every Traveler Must Ask. Myth #5: You can’t control flight delays and other snafus Okay, you can’t control the weather or the various ways in which mechanical failure or human error may derail your flight. But… You can take control of delays and cancellations when you understand the best procedures, the magic words that unlock kindness in strangers, and, most importantly what your rights are. READ: Take Control of Weather-Related Flight Delays and Cancellations.
Travel 101: These Are the Best Snacks to Pack in Your Carry-On
Whether you actually look forward to the itty-bitty pretzel bags that airlines hand out (full disclosure: I kinda do), or you plan on ponying up for the boxed sandwich and cookies (yeah, I like those, too), don't hand over the responsibility for refueling your body to your flight attendants. Even under the best circumstances, airline travel is both physically and emotionally stressful and you need to pack easy-to-serve, healthy snacks that'll help your body and mind roll with the inevitable punches. When I want advice about healthy snacking, I turn to Jackie Newgent (jackienewgent.com), RDN, CDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook and other cookbooks. Newgent's first piece of advice is "bring an empty water bottle"—once you get through airport security, you can fill the bottle on your way to your gate and stay healthily hydrated throughout the flight. Newgent's suggestions for ideal airplane snacks include: Not Nuts! Seed and Fruit Mix—Mountain Mambo flavor. "Consider it a perfect plane-safe snack since it's flavorful, filling, and allergy-friendly. In fact, it's gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, and egg-free!" KIND Healthy Grains Bar (Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate or Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt). "They're made from all natural ingredients you can see and pronounce and pack more than one full serving of whole grains per bar (amaranth, millet, buckwheat, gluten-free oats, and quinoa)." Wonderful Pistachio Roasted & Salted Snack Pack. "Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie and higher fiber nuts, making them an excellent snack choice—30 pistachios provide only about 100 calories!" Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas—Falafel Flavor. "It's a flavorful way to satisfy the munchies and get a punch of protein—naturally and without GMOs." CLIF Kid Organic ZFruit Rope—Strawberry Flavor. "It's a tasty fruit snack with a burst of vitamin C that can healthfully give kids (and adults!) a sweet little nosh for energy—with no preservatives or artificial flavors."
The One App Every Traveler Needs Now
Some of my favorite ideas started with the words “What if…?” So I’ve been especially excited to download and start using Lonely Planet’s new Trips app, which basically starts with the concept, “What if we create a world-class social media platform tailor-made for travelers?” Trips (downloadable for iOS HERE and coming soon for Android) allows you to upload images and captions from your travels and organize them in an attractive layout that serves as a mini travel story that you can share with as many - or as few - fellow users as you please. Want your close relatives to experience your weekend escape to a state fair? Trips can do that. Want the entire world to experience your monthlong European odyssey? Trips can do that, too. Lonely Planet, Budget Travel’s parent company, has a storied history of engaging travelers in a two-way conversation in which travel experts inspire and empower travel enthusiasts, and travel enthusiasts in turn inspire and empower others to do the same. The Trips app takes that relationship to new heights. Highlights include: Get Inspired Browse the images and stories posted by Lonely Planet’s audience (not to mention its editors, writers, and photographers) to find your next great vacation destination. Share your trips Upload images and captions and the app will lay them out for you in an engaging platform that you can adjust before publishing so that the group you share it with (as many or as few people as you wish) will see your trip in the most attractive visual format possible. Customize your experience Sure, we all love to travel, but not everyone wants to, say, scale mountains or sail to remote islands. If, for instance, road trips or gentle hikes are more your thing, you can easily zero in on what you most want to do. Get Started Click HERE to learn more or HERE to download the free app for iOS now.
Warning: Your Passport "Expires" Three Months Before It Expires
It’s one of your worst travel nightmares: You show up at the airport, packed and ready to fly overseas, valid (non-expired) passport in hand, and you’re told, just a few hours before your fight is scheduled to take off, that your passport is not valid for the destination you’re headed for. Huh? We’re seeing more and more American travelers getting turned back because their passport is within three months (or, in some cases, six months) of expiration. Due to the variety of entry and visitor policies of many foreign countries (including super-popular destinations like Italy, France, and Spain), you need to make sure your passport is valid for at least three months after your departure date. For some countries, especially many in Asia, the period may be six months. Rather than try to explain the varied policies of every destination you may have on your bucket list, we’ll send you over the U.S. State Department, which has a handy tool for researching your destination’s requirements. READ: "11 Worst Travel Nightmares (And How to Make Them Go Away)" What do you do if you’re scheduled to fly to, say, France next week and you’ve just realized your passport will expire in less than three months? Luckily, there’s an app to help with that. ItsEasy.com just launched the very first passport renewal app that streamlines the entire process. Founded in 1976, ItsEasy is a United States Government–registered passport- and visa-expediting company based in New York City. Download the free user-friendly app on your smartphone or tablet, and you can renew your passport, get photos, fulfill visa requirements, and use the emergency info button (just in case you lose your passport or visa while traveling in another country), all easily and safely. The app also has a renewal reminder that will notify you nine months before your passport expires. Using it to take passport photos is easy: Snap your picture, and it will be reviewed and approved by ItsEasy passport pros, then opt to have it printed by ItsEasy and delivered by first class or overnight mail, or choose to have it emailed to you to print yourself. READ: "How Not to Be a Jerk on a Plane" ItsEasy charges $29.95 for its passport renewal services, in addition to the Department of State's passport fee, which includes a trackable priority United States Postal Service shipping label, passport photos, all of the forms, and order status updates. Customers can choose standard or expedited renewal. Once the application is submitted, ItsEasy emails customers the full passport application to print and complete, a checklist to ensure it’s all taken care of, and a secure trackable USPS priority shipping label to send everything to ItsEasy. They will review and process everything before passing it on to the U.S. Department of State. “Why wouldn’t you want an app that saves you precious time and money?” David Alwadish, CEO and founder of ItsEasy, has said. “Between buying the envelope, postage, passport photos, and running around for the errand, if the value of the users’ time saved is factored in then the savings would grow exponentially. We are providing you with peace of mind with government-approved and regulated experts handling the entire process—including pre-checking of documents, printing the photos, writing the check, and gathering what you’d have to go buy yourself. I can confidently say that you’ll be aware of where your application is at all times.”