Long journeys are never easy to endure but following a few basic guidelines makes it more comfortable for you, your fellow traveller and the airline staff. Most of these tips also apply on a long train journey.
- You are sharing a confined space with many people for an extended period of time. It’s wise to be freshly showered, wearing deodorant and not too much strong perfume. Painting nails or eating a homemade curry on the trip is not advisable.
- If you have small children, occupy them! Toys, snacks, a book and/or iPad and a favourite blanket are essential for little travellers. Feel free to walk the aisles on long flights with them but without letting them running around, disturbing the rest of the plane. If you can organise a nanny or someone else to travel with them and help with the entertaining, all the better.
- The window does not belong to you, even if you are in the window seat. Let other people steal a glance at the view, if you feel it’s too bright from your angle consider asking fellow passengers if they’d like the blinds down.
- Regarding what does belong to you, the customer pays for the seat and the space behind that seat, not in front of it. You can recline as you please, except during meal times.
- Bring a pen for customs or immigration forms if travelling abroad. The rail/airline staff don’t have an inexhaustible supply – it also saves time if you fill in forms while still on board.
- There’s nothing worse than a drunken passenger – especially for those of us who’ve had drinks spilled on us by drunk people on planes. If you are such a traveller then you deserve to lose your carry on bags.
- 50 other people are using the same lavatory as you. The little sign advising us to clean the hand basin for the next person I’ve seen on Virgin Atlantic flights is all very well but for heaven’s sake, be conscious of the toilet bowl and surrounding area. Try to keep it as clean as possible so we don’t all dread going to spend a penny.
- Flights can be long and there is no escaping that person next to you. It’s not the best idea to strike up a conversation with your neighbours – didn’t your mother teach you not to talk to strangers? They may want to be left in peace. They may be criminally insane.
- There is no reason whatsoever to abuse airline staff. They are trying to get their work done. It’s a plane, not a restaurant or a hotel. Try not to make their life too difficult with requests such as “I’ll take the chicken but will you please remove the asparagus sauce for me.” If for some reason you feel that they aren’t doing their job, report the matter to their superiors or write an email when you land. Failure to comply with the directions of the crew members can be a criminal offence.
- Pay attention to the seatbelt sign, it’s there for a reason. There is nothing more inconsiderate than passengers who get up and grab their bags from overhead lockers as soon as the wheels touch the ground. This behaviour is a) idiotic – you really aren’t going to get out any faster, and b) dangerous. I’ve seen bags of duty free whiskey drop out of the overhead bins, potentially harmful to the person sitting below. Just wait till we can all stand.