Monday, November 24, 2008

Six Ideas Toward Peaceful Flights for All

By Mike Grasso

Let's face it, even in the midst of long lines at airport checkpoints, overly crowded airplanes, and a lack of overhead bin space, passengers remain fairly civil with each other at 40,000 feet. But compared to last winter, there will be fewer flights in the coming months, meaning fuller flights, and with the nickle-and-diming game by the airlines charging for everything from pillows to soft drinks, tensions may be running a little high up in the sky.

But, there are some steps you can take to make the flying experience a little more enjoyable for both you and others seated around you. I've come up with some ideas, partially inspired by the Live Aloha movement, intended to show how very basic actions individuals take can result in a positive cumulative result.

1. Smile, say hello, acknowledge your seatmate and the people around you. No need to become best friends here, but you are traveling together some distance, why not exchange neighborly greetings?

2. Help passengers boarding the plane who seem lost or a bit distressed. If someone is uncertain where their seat is located, help them. We sometimes forget our fellow travelers can be international tourists, or others not accustomed to the American boarding procedures and aircraft types.

3. If you encounter a passenger having difficulty lifting their luggage into the overhead bins, give them a hand. It's tempting to ask questions such as why someone packs their carry-on bags so heavily in first place knowing they can't lift them in the bin, but regardless, the passenger still needs assistance at that moment. It is a nice gesture to lend a hand.

4. Once you have located your seat, step in and let other passengers through. The flight attendants preach this common courtesy because it really does help. It could mean the difference between an on-time and late departure.

5. Be cognisant of passengers with tight connections. On particularly late arrivals where several passengers may misconnect, the flight crew should ask folks to permit those with onward connections to deplane first. But in other instances where only a few may be impacted by the late arrival, no such announcement may be made, so listen for others commenting on their concern and invite them to proceed off the plane ahead of you.

6. As you deplane, thank the flight crew. Many crew members have taken pay cuts, been stripped of their pensions, and find themselves working in a economically suffering industry. Despite these setbacks, many continue to provide service with a smile.

Helping others need not be performed on a grand scale. Simple individual courtesies and favors to others are almost always appreciated, both by the recipient and often by nearby onlookers - wanting to help, but failing to step forth. Plus, who can dispute the great feeling attained from simply lending a helping hand to a stranger? Putting these ideas (and others) into action will help everyone toward a more peaceful journey.