Now then, this blog obviously needs to be written, as so many fliers seem to have absolutely no idea whatsoever how to do this. So here we go ….
I appreciate that not everyone has the internet. There are 17 people in Outer Mongolia who haven't had a decent connection in years, and Wales isn't even close to getting a Wi-Fi signal, 1G or any other G for that matter, but these well made points don't even come close to explaining the long queues at airport Check-in. Surely it makes sense to Check-in online and then just bag drop upon arrival? Emailing your ticket to your hotels reception and they will print it off, download it to your phone, your wallet, Internet cafes (do they still exist), travel agents and a host of other options will accommodate - Allowing you choose your seat in comfort and to cut out at least an hour at Departures. So, now you've made the effort, you need to choose the seat itself. Not so easy.
Choosing your seat.
We all have our preferences when it comes to this, and it's a balancing act between having the most comfortable of flights as possible and your requirements at the other end. If you have a short connection time at transfer, then it makes sense to book a seat as close to the pilots as possible. I have lost count of the times that those at the back are trying to bustle and push their way through the elbow-fight of overhead lockers and possession gathering that goes on as soon as the seat belt light goes off. "Why didn't you get a seat at the front?" I want to shout. I want to shout a lot when flying, but you have to try to find ways of blocking out high definition passengers, for HDT's are extremely annoying and can create an absurd amount of excruciating moments, that, over the period of a long trip, can seriously increase both your anxiety and your discomfort levels significantly. Pushing through those further towards the front of the plane, and who are also trying to collect their possessions in the smallest areas of confinement, is a huge bone of contention amongst IT's (Invisible Travellers). I do find that losing control of your bag when swinging it down in a large arc form the overhead lockers, does have its merits when it comes to creating space but it seems a bit drastic. Much better to hold your ground, collect your stuff, calmly wait your turn and disembark. I wouldn't want to get some poor HDT's blood on my travel suit, anyway.
Back to choosing your seats: If you're always stuck at the back in cattle class on long haul flights, like my good self, you will hope and pray for a row to yourself. The odds of this happening are greatly increased if you choose the back rows or at the very least, as far back as you can. These are statistically the safest seats on a plane as well, but that's just a bonus. This deft point on safety might be moot though - If you have the cabin crew over your seat shoulder, describing to each other their weekends adventures in Dubai, or how impossible Janet is to work with - you might well be hoping for it all to be over for you anyway...... Just as long as it's quick and relatively painless. Emirates hold the record for the noisiest and most overtly 'chattyamongsthemselveswhilstattemptingtokeepyouawakeallnightly' cabin crews I've flown with, by the way. They might as well have just grabbed a wooden spoon, a silver tray and banged it against my blindfolded head all night. I have moved forward in the plane these days because of this. Thank you Emirates. I don't fly with you anymore so it all works out in the end.
Being near the toilets is a problem, obviously. The smell, the flush, the weird noises and the stretchy people attempting to keep their legs free from thrombosis, all go a long way to making your flight as miserable as possible too. Flying on your own does increase the chance of getting a good night's sleep, however, but it's a rare bird indeed, that will let you go sneaking off to an empty row of 4 seats while they have to stay next to some flatulent South African. Not that South Africans are any more 'wind aggressive' than any other nationality but I needed a poetic race and the syllabic flow fitted, but I digress. Flying in pairs makes getting comfortable quite difficult, unless you've been there with each other, and seen it all before. Kati, my partner, just happens to be a delight to travel with. Give her a movie, a bag of Haribo's and a sleeping pill and she will gladly take up your armrest, pillows, .... personal space ... and remain as quiet as a church-mouse for the whole flight. This is, after all, what you want when flying together - Peace and ease. I'm a window seater, she an aisle seater. Not for me being twotted in the face by shoulder bags, banged in the knee by runaway trolleys or constantly interrupted by weak bladdered over-stretching HDP's.
There is no answer to the seat problem then. You have to pick and choose for every flight accordingly but all I ask is that you think about it. If it's a one hour flight from Paris to Barcelona, who cares where you sit anyway, and you're going to Barcelona.
HDT's - High Definition Travellers/Tourists/Trippers
I may have mentioned them already. They are those high definition travellers that you first spot at Check-In, or worse still, at the drop off point outside..... Even worse again, and heaven forfend, you've just had to endure them for a week back at the hotel and here they are. More generally they are those who give you an edgy unnerving feeling that they are the very last person on earth you want to sit next to on a long distance flight. Often patently idiotic in manner, mostly ignorant of everything around them, improperly dressed, mouths constantly open for any number of annoying reasons, or filthier than a soap dispenser on an Italian train, although unfortunately not as rare - They reek, not only of bad news for you, but also of anything from a 17 day music festival goer to a bin-man's favourite glove. They always seem to be asking too many questions, making too many demands or assumptions, are sneezing or hawking violently, have way too much luggage or are wearing flip-flops. Upgrades have never seemed so important to you - Dream on. Once boarded, and even if you've escaped actual 'next door neighbourdom', you can still see them. You are drawn to them because, don't forget, they are in HD. They drop things, spill things, they think their child is everyone's entertainment and that little Beelzebub kicking the back of your seat is such terrific fun. They didn't organise a vegan meal but want a vegan meal, they're not happy with their seat (having not checked in online obviously), their bag won't fit in the overhead locker because they didn't bother to measure it in the departure lounge, and they want to chat, loudly all the way to purgatory. This is made even worse if they are the young and think that using the word 'like' continuously, whilst trying to think of the next inane sentence, is the very, like, height of, like, sophistication and culture. It's not. The plane just wants you to, like, shut up and watch an Adam Sandler movie instead of talking. I know this seems like an overly harsh punishment but what's an IT in turmoil to do? I have my limits, I'm only human. Good advice here, by the way. You must wear earplugs. You absolutely must. Not only do they help with air pressure problems, they block out a lot of engine and white noise, plus, and obviously, the noise from your fellow travellers. Your trip will be easier, you will land in a much fresher condition and much more relaxed. You can still hear the inflight entertainment through them, so once aboard, never take them out..... I implore you.
If you haven't checked-in and booked your own seat, don't know whether you have an aisle or window, the next problem you have, being an HDT, is that you have to board. Usually, theses days, it's done by zone and ticket class. All rushing at once solves nothing, and why are you rushing anyway. It's not going without you and trust me, you have many hours of sitting down ahead of you, so just go when called. Not only are those jostling ahead of their Zone Call already tosspots, if they then have an aisle seat and grudgingly get up to let you through to your window seat, it more than trebles their HDP index. I'm still not sure why airlines don't board by position rather than row, but they probably already know that no one will pay any attention to the rule and all rush in at once anyway. Aisle sitters, hold back or at least don't whine about it when you have to let me in. Better still, forget that. Just don't board until the end. There just isn't enough room to let people past and to let me in while you do your whole dog turning in a basket thing.
HDT's are also painfully unaware of the free seats etiquette afforded to those who have a couple of empty seats next to them. Leave those seats alone. It hasn't happened by accident - Careful planning has gone into where I sit, to increase the chances of this happening and you blindly interrupting this moment, is not welcomed. The occupier has lucked out and should be afforded their win. Stay out or find an empty row of your own - It's not their fault you've got a middle seat adjacent to the toilet and next to Mr Three-Elbows Halitosis, is it? Do your homework, book your own seat and don't be so ignorant and lazy, ..... probably.
1. Check-in online. If it's difficult, make the effort and also make sure that you confirm you have the seats you booked at check-in/bag drop.
2. Check your boarding card to find out what seat number, row and position you're situated and board accordingly.
3. Wear appropriate clothing, and if luggage weight is an issue, wear your heaviest clothes and slip on shoes.
4. If your carry on bag is on the larger side, make sure it fits in the whilst in Departures. There are usually weighing machines with size gauges there.
5. Wear earphones on all flights.
6. Try not to bother wearing a belt, wear slip on shoes, and don as little jewellery as possible.
7. Don't moan about security checks or them confiscating your bottles of water or detonators. Buy your water after passing through Security and take it on the plane. You will need it whilst stuck on the tarmac.
8. Wait your turn while boarding and disembarking.
9. Ritualise your travel routines. For example, always keep your documents in the same place or pocket and never throw away your Boarding Passes until 6 months have elapsed since your flight.
10. Once boarded, don't change seat until after take off. Planes are Boarded by weight distribution and the crew will only get annoyed any send you back to your original seat.
So, summing up, Happy Travels my IT friends.