OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spend tons of time in airports.  Tons.  It would not be an exaggeration to say I have taken about a thousand flights over the last fifteen years. When you spend lots of time in airports, you see people doing the same asshole things over and over, things that make the flying experience way more difficult than it already is, what with anal probes being routinely conducted at search points.  When I’m not thinking about killing the assholes, I feel sorry for them.  How are they supposed to know the rules?  They only fly once a year.  I don’t know if most frequent fliers are as forgiving as I am.  I think most frequent fliers just want to kill asshole fliers.  As an act of compassion, I offer this list.

How Not to be an Asshole Flier Everyone Wants to Kill

  1. Don’t stand in the middle of the moving walkway.  People who are in a hurry to get to their flights will stew in the pileup that forms behind you, fantasizing about removing your spleen with the spork they received when they ordered their nebulous airplane cuisine. If you must stand, stand to the right with your body pressed up against the guardrail.  If you like girls, pretend that guardrail is Angelina Jolie.  If you like boys, pretend it is Brad Pitt.  Get that close.  In other news, your Volkswagon-sized roll- along should also be stowed against the guardrail.
  2. Get your jacket, shoes, jewelry, laptop, etc. ready to go at security as quickly as possible, preferably before you even get there.  There is nothing more infuriating than trying to get through security in order to catch your flight and getting stuck behind someone who is leisurely taking his belt off, carefully unzipping and re-zipping all the pockets on his briefcase, pulling up his socks, slowly removing his watch, counting the money in his wallet, combing his hair.  Related question: Why the hell are you wearing so much jewelry anyway?  Did no one tell you you were going to the airport today?
  3. Don’t yell at the gate agents.  You are not the first person in the history of the world whose flight has been delayed.  Satan is not conspiring with Osama Bin Laden to delay your flight specifically to ensure that you don’t get to the wedding you are scheduled to attend in San Antonio.  The agent doesn’t give a shit that it’s your sweet second niece’s wedding.  She doesn’t.  She might if you weren’t frothing at the mouth and inventing new slurs hinting at her dubious parentage, but even if she did, there is not a damn thing she can do about your late flight.  She is not a mutant.  She does not have telekinetic powers with which she can summon lost airplanes.  And you are the 15th asshole that’s yelled at her in the last 20 minutes.  No wonder you’re getting bad service, sunshine.  Poor little you.  People are dying of dehydration in slums somewhere.  That’s a real problem.  Now shut the hell up.
  4. Get your shit in the overhead bin as quickly as possible.  Shove the big sucker upstairs and your purse under the seat in front of you and sit the fuck down.  Don’t stand there digging through your suitcase making sure you have your three books, four favorite lipsticks, headphones, iPod, and laptop.  You can get your shit out after the plane takes off and the captain turns off the seatbelt sign.  Because while you’re digging around, about a hundred people are standing in a crowded aisle behind you, holding fifty pounds of luggage each.  There is always a possibility they will join forces and beat you to death with their roll-alongs.  And nobody wants to go out that way.
  5. Don’t yell at the flight attendants.  Your internet isn’t working?  Your drink wasn’t cold enough?  You didn’t get the seat you wanted?  The toilet seat wasn’t warm enough for your liking?  If you take these, or any other frustrations, out on the poor flight attendant who has been dealing with assholes like you for 12 hours and probably has slept all of 6 hours in the past 3 days, you are a dick.  Be decent.  Have a little dignity.  I’m gonna bet you’re gonna survive the fact that you didn’t get to sit next to your husband on the 45-minute flight.  I’m gonna take it a step further and guess hubby is happy to have a little time away from your winning personality, sugar lips. You are not the only person on the airplane.  No one wants to listen to your bullshit.  Especially not the flight attendants.
  6. Restrain your progeny.  I love babies.  Who doesn’t love babies?  I understand that it is impossible to make a three-month-old stop crying on a flight.  Her ears hurt.  You are trying.  I know this.  I feel badly for you and offer consoling smiles every time you look my way because I remember how hard it was to travel with babies.  But.  Don’t let your eight-year-old kick me in the face repeatedly and look at me with a bemused smile that says, “Isn’t he the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?”  No, he’s not.  He’s really, really not.
  7. Don’t grope people.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but I do.  If I had a penny for every time some fat guy “accidentally” grabbed my boobs in flight, I would be a wealthy woman.  Look, I know you’re away from home and feeling adventurous and randy and free.  But your chances of joining the “mile high club” tonight are about as good as you joining Greenday.  The fact that you and I were seated next to one another is not kismet.  I am not your future bride.  Furthermore, if you don’t get your hand off my crotch, I’m going to saw it off with my plastic knife.
  8. I’m not saying don’t try to make friends, but if your initial attempts at small talk are rebuffed, take no for an answer.  For the record, “Whatcha reading?” is a terrible opening line.  If I’m reading, it probably means I want to read, not tell you about what I’m reading.  If I’m listening to music, and you tap me insistently on the shoulder, it had better be to let me know the wing is on fire, not to ask me if I’m flying for business or pleasure.  Book.  Laptop.  Headphones.  Read these objects as big signs reading, “I’ve been traveling for 600 hours straight, and I’m tired, and I don’t want to be your friend.”
  9. Don’t act annoyed if you are seated in the aisle seat, and someone has to ask you to get up so he can use the bathroom.  I’m sorry.  This is what happens on airplanes.  Sometimes, during eight-hour transatlantic flights, people have to pee.  Nobody is picking on you.  This is not an affront to your human rights.   It’s either ask you to get up, climb over you like you are a jungle gym, or pee in the seat next to you.  You pick.
  10. Unless you have a genuine special need, don’t demand special treatment.  When the flight attendants come around with the drink cart, order a normal drink like everyone else.  Don’t say, “Can I get three drinks–one Sprite with very little ice, one coffee with three sugars and two creams, and a halfway full glass of water?”  Yes, you’re right.  The flight attendant should have to do three times more work for you than she does for everyone else because you are the queen of everything.

Bonus:  Don’t be The Farter.  There is always a farter on every airplane.  I don’t care if the engine is loud enough that no one will know it’s you.  It’s still rude.  And if I’m squeezed into the seat next to you, and the air around us smells like the sulfuric atmosphere of hell, I’m going to guess it’s you.  You’re not as slick as you think you are.  Ask me if you can get out to use the restroom.  I’ll smile and move for you.  It’s as easy as that.

Really, this all comes down to figuring out you are not the only person in the world.  You should have figured this shit out in kindergarten, but hey, it’s never too late to learn.  Say “please.”  Say “thank you.”  If someone is having trouble getting his luggage in the overhead bin, offer to help.  Smile.  This flight is not all about you.  It’s all about you and everyone else crammed into this tiny metal tube.  For a few hours, this is your world.  Try to make it a better place.