Traveling to the Land of my Ancestors

kinnon —  May 17, 2007 — 2 Comments

After a sleepless night zooming across the rather large pond that separates North America from Europe, the plane into which I had embarqued at 6:45pm Toronto time, disgorged its occupants into a cool rainy Heathrow day at 6:45am GMT. For the first time in all my years of air travel, I was out of the terminal within fifteen minutes of landing – through customs in less than two minutes, bags appearing at the carousel as I walked up, and Barry, the driver was waiting in the arrivals area. He was in shock to see me that quickly.

FlyingteensMy sleepless night was largely the result of a flight filled with students heading off to Rome and then an Adriatic tour. All seemed to be good kids…but ones who had not been taught airplane etiquette by their teachers or parents. So, in the voice of the curmudgeon, a few pointers:

1) Some people on the flight actually want to sleep. They have work to do when they arrive.Your job is not to disturb them. To that end:

a) The seat in front of you is not to be grabbed to help you raise yourself from your chair. The arms of the chair you are (temporarily) seated in provide adequate structure to elevate you from a seated to standing position.
b) If you have a bladder the size of a peanut, please make sure you book an aisle seat. The need for three of you to get up every 15 minutes whilst ignoring 1)a) elevates the stress levels of those in front of you.
c) Whilst you are seated (however temporarily), the seat back in front of you is not a place to rest any part of your anatomy. Particularly, keep your knees from pushing against the space beneath the tray table.
d) Those around you could really care less whether Kevin is “the cutest.” In spite of the interior noise levels of the aircraft, you
can be heard by the person sitting next to you. Just ask them to remove their earphones.
e) And speaking of earphones, please do not attempt to carry on a conversation with your seatmates whilst watching a movie with said earphones perfectly covering your auditory sensors.

2) The aisles are a place where people stretch their legs, flight attendants traverse with things cool, hot and indifferent, and those with bladders the size of peanuts and larger make their way to rooms of rest. They are not a place to congregate for group discussion as:

a) You will be spending the next 14 days with this same group and will have more than adequate time to discuss every inane detail of your life.
b) “Kevin” is not a necessary topic of group discussion (See 1)d))
c) High-pitched giggling in groups of more than two teenage girls has been shown to cause stress fractures in aircraft mainframes. You could be needlessly endangering the lives of the people on the flight. (Okay, that’s a lie – but so is the line that cell phones interfere with airplane navigation – and the airlines are quite willing to foist that upon us. Why not lie about teenage girl giggling – ‘twould make the trip much more comfortable for the rest of us.)

3) Aircraft cabins are an inadequate place to attempt communication with those who are more than a few feet away from you. Therefore

a) Whether you, sitting in 45J, really do “desperately miss” Sara sitting in 38E (who has turned around and is looking at you), she cannot hear you when you attempt to communicate that to her – unless of course she can lip read. In which case, your forte voce emanations directed perfectly into my ears in 44H are pointless – as well as painful.
b) There is a little button in your arm rest that you can use to summon a flight attendant. “Miss, miss, missssssssss!” when she is five rows past you is an inadequate method of communication…and completely ineffective – unless, of course, your desire is to annoy the people around you. In that case, mission accomplished.

4) Airplane restrooms have nothing in common with high school girl’s restrooms.

a) They are a not a place to congregate and continue the discussion of Kevin’s relative merits.
b) Your makeup is just fine. If you’d just turn off the light and get some sleep you’d look much better in the morning. Really!
c) There is only enough room for one human being in each of these restrooms.
d) There are over 400 people crammed together in this aluminum tube, all who eat at almost the same time – and all whose bodies seem to respond to the need for “rest” at around the same time. The airlines have kindly provided adequate “rest” facilities for about 100 people. Perhaps your math skills are not as good as they might be, but surely you can figure out that with these limited resources, bodily evacuation needs trump your makeup application needs any day of the week.

Finally, I do hope you have a wonderful time on your return trip. I only pray that it will be on another aircraft than the one I’m traveling on.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

2 responses to Traveling to the Land of my Ancestors

  1. Oh Bill! Your post brought back horrible memories for me of a similar flight.

    We were in Bolivia and flying back to Miami on a red-eye. The plane was FILLED with quinceañeras (15-year old girls) who were being sent by wealthy parents on a tour of Florida, in celebration of their 15th birthdays. The air was filled with giggling, makeup was being applied, girls were sitting on armrests to chat with friends, seatbacks were being jostled, food carts were being blocked.

    For some reason, there were also about three guys also on this tour. And their seats were right behind ours. So you can imagine what happened as the boys became the focal point of the entire trip. The “Kevins” of the tour.

    We finally got so fed up, we went to find the tour sponsors. You know where they were? Up front in business class! Grrrrr!!

  2. Mark,
    Sorry to refresh bad memories.

    I saw the chaperon/teachers in the waiting area at the airport. No sign of them on the plane. Go figure.

    I actually explained 1)a) to the girl behind me. She didn’t quite get it. She hauled herself up using the seat beside me instead.


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