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"Who's flying this thing!? Oh right, that would be me."
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December 01 2007

Nathan Fillion blogs about airplane etiquette. At long last, the Captain offers up his $0.02 on how we can all do our part to collectively survive the horrors of modern commercial air travel.

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2007-12-02 00:42 ]

As a mom who flies frequently with her wee ones, I want to smooch him for this alone:

Kids on a plane. Babies cry. That's it. That's all. Don't be sour, give the parents a dirty look, or let out an exasperated sigh. You were a baby once. You cried, too. Afford mothers traveling alone every courtesy. EVERY courtesy. ... For families traveling together, always give up your seat if it keeps them together. This includes couples, old or young.

About the only question he didn't address is this all-important one raised in Fight Club:

"Now a question of etiquette... as I pass, do I give you the ass or the crotch?"
- Tyler Durden
Hey, I'm going on my first plane trip from Ohio to California for the San Diego Comic-Con in July, so...this is actually pretty useful.

(Not that I have terrible hygiene or am a douche to others.)

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2007-12-02 01:40 ]
I hate flying and Mrs. Haunt and I are getting on a plane to Boston in 12 hours. Very timely post. Thanks BrewBunny and thank you Nathan.
Really, I think the man needs to do these as mini-podcasts. I can almost hear his voice in my head as I read it, and I'd enjoy it if he could just move the extra step and give me that much extra joy.
You're welcome, Haunt. Hope you and Mrs. Haunt have a pleasant journey to Boston and back home again. :-)
Excellent advice, worthy of Capt. Mal OR Dr. Pomatter--say, WAITRESS is out on DVD! Mmmm...pie!
The behavior problems come from the airlines themselves.

The airlines figured out how much space people need, then they reduced it by 25% and called that coach. They gave the need-space to the guys with bucks and called it first-class, as if it were somehow first-rate. In order to reduce fuel costs induced by drag, the airlines reduce the air intake to the cabin, and oxygen levels plummet. This gives older people deep vein thrombosis, which people can and do occasionally die from.

So yeah, courtesy is a good idea, but the fountain of bad behavior starts with the airlines.
I'm heading out on about a half dozen plane flights at the end of this year/begining of next (it takes a while to get to Antarctica!), so this is a nice reminder.
This man is so Canadian.
He actually blogged about airplane etiquette? I thought that was a joke.
Your space. Especially for us big guys, flights can be tough because of how little space is provided for our enormous frames.

I can attest that those seats can be quite painful for tall women as well. I don't see how really tall men (whose frames are usually larger than mine in every dimension) even fit in those seats. I feel sympathy when I pass them in the rows.

The comment on being kind about crying babies is thoughtful. Those parents could really use a kind word sometimes.
On Babies crying.

My Mom taught me this. When a baby or young child is crying, talk to the baby without making any sound. Move your lips like you are talking. When the baby stops crying because the baby thinks "can't hear", talk.

Another idea if you are like an actor or can at least sound like you are crying, you can start crying too. Don't sound like you are making fun. Stop when the child stops. Don't do it so long that you scare the adults. Used this in line at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The bus hadn't come for a while and the child was frustrated because of this. So was I. And I thought the child was too far away or too old for the talk/no sound thing.

Parents are your older children embarassing you in a public place. Start singing. However you normally sing. Can't remember where I heard this idea.

When the parent says No and the parent keeps having to say No. You can say "Your Mother/Father said No." On buy me this or that. "Can I have one of those too?" "When you get a job, you will have money to buy things." Try to be funny. Showing parents support in public...I think people used to do this a long time ago.
article on Deep vein thrombosis

Has some exercises in it and other suggestions.

"No matter what the mode of transportation, sitting motionless for long periods may put some travelers at an increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). ..."

I try to especially drink plenty of water on the days before a long travel ride. I do toe exercises on the trip and after the trip. Works in long meetings too. On a car trip, I stop and walk around every hour. Pay special attention to the Signs And Symptoms of Deep vein thrombosis. DVT_SignsAndSymptoms
People sitting in front of me putting their seats back. I hate that seeing as I'm 6ft2.
First flight ever UnpluggedCrazy ? Man, are you in for a treat. Try to get a window seat if you can (but not right over the wing, your view's obstructed - though you do get more legroom normally cos of the emergency exit, to - average height - me it's not worth it).

Flown all over the place since I was 5 (yes, my arms are tired ;) and it never gets old for me, especially taking off. Sure, "cattle class" can be tiring, it's uncomfortably cramped, noisy, sometimes smelly. Just remember, you're participating in a modern marvel. Trips that took weeks a hundred years ago we can do in an afternoon in a heavier than air machine that flies higher than any human could survive. That's amazing.

S'all good advice from Nathan there. A nice thing I noticed on an Aeroflot flight one time, Russians clap when the plane lands ;). Nothing says appreciation to your flight crew like a round of applause (they're also very casual flyers, getting up and having little "parties" in the aisles and so on, just relaxes everyone - jesus can they drink too - which is, y'know, also relaxing ;).

(oh and kids - or anyone else - kicking the back of my chair is one of the things that annoys. Also, "snoking" mucus as we used to call it - that horrible loud noise as someone "sucks" it back into their head - is disgusting, i'm with NF there. Go to the toilet and blow your nose people, it's not frikkin' rocket science)
I'm with saje -- cattleclass can be tiring, but the wonder of lift-off never ceases to thrill me. Last time, on the leg from Boston to S.F., the plane was delayed 45 min. and the pilot was old-school nice and gracious. He invited people up into the cabin to talk and look around, which I'm not sure is legal anymore, due to the post-9/11 rules. I went up and it was awesome!

The only things that really bother me about flying is: I hate stuffing my luggage in the overhead bins; I'm short and lack upper body strength -- I invariably have to depend on the kindness of strangers to get my bags securely up there. And: I'm short and thin and about the size of a 16-year old figure skater and I still can't comfortably curl up in an airline seat. Something about the angle in which the seat just kills my back. I literally don't know how you much-bigger people out there do it.
and am flying from Bermuda to LA today (for eventually the picket line) so this is helpful :)

[ edited by fmwt on 2007-12-02 14:07 ]
Saje, you're so right about the miracle aspect. I haven't flown much, and I still get excited by takeoff and looking down as the land turns into a map. Last month the husband and I had a short break in Venice - taking off from there at sunset, flying over the lagoon and then on over the Alps was way beyond magical. Nathan's advice is very sound though. I'd just add one of those blow-up neck pillows can be a godsend on a budget flight.
I'm afraid I am one of those people who is totally miserable at the prospect of flying (I love the being in the air thing, but the airport, the crowds, the seats, the bad air, all make it torture); but if I was sitting near Nathan Fillion THAT would certainly change my attitude, and he could use my arm rest all he wanted!

fmwt you live in Bermuda?! One of the most wonderful places on the planet! To leave there to picket in LA is a real sacrifice, but I'm sure you'll have fun (just not on the plane, probably).
Saje and dottikin, Have either of you ever read Patrick Smith's column Ask the Pilot on He's a pilot who deconstructs the myths and mysteries of modern commercial air travel and he shares your opinions on the wonder of it all. (He also has a book of his columns out that would make a great gift for a frequent flyer.)

As for people being supportive of traveling families, I've got to say that I've found the overwhelming majority of people, both airline staff and travelers, to be incredibly supportive and patient, even on those occasions when my kids aren't at their best. If I had a nickel for every kind stranger who gave me a hand getting an unwieldy car seat up onto the security inspection table or who just gave me a friendly "hang in there" as I was starting to run out of steam from entertaining my kids (i.e., keeping them quiet) towards the end of a six-hour flight, well ... let's just say that air travel will teach you that there are plenty of asshats in the world, but also that there are even more gentle, generous souls.
I've dipped in and out of his columns BrewBunny. He's usually pretty sane in his outlook and fun to read, didn't realise he had a book out too, may take a look, thanks ;).

(I remember reading one on pilot's salaries that amazed me - the younger pilots especially don't always get paid very much at all)
"A nice thing I noticed on an Aeroflot flight one time, Russians clap when the plane lands ;). "

I've been on a lot of US flights when people applauded at the end. They always applauded before I felt the landing was truly over, however, so I always had mixed emotions.

I also love looking out of the window during a flight. I love seeing the changing landscape and picking out the different places. I almost always fly over the USA, so it is usually either the East Coast or the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountains, that I am looking at. One time when I took off from Portland, OR it looked like the wing of the plane was going to slice off the top of Mt Hood. Amazing. I also had a wonderful view of the entire Grand Canyon when I came into Las Vegas one time. Of course coming home to the NYC skyline always has its own charms.

Everything else is awful, but it only lasts a short time compared to what our ancestors had to go through to travel.

Have great flights everyone.
Embers yep I live in Bermuda and have got to LA unfortunately my checked bag hasn't (yet)

But the Red Strike shirt i ordered was at the hotel :)

There was the most well behaved 1 year old sitting in front of me from JFK to LAX, she was so quiet and watching dvds with her mum, it was a 6 and a half hour flight.

And my body is going it's 1:40am, go to sleep
I couldn't help but envision Nathan in full Captain Mal mode, talking to the crew before letting them board Serenity!

I've always loved the flying aspect of travel- the prospect of sitting on my butt, being able to read or watch movies without being interrupted, with people constantly bringing me food and alcohol is close to my idea of heaven!

I've had more than my share of smelly neighbours seemingly suffering from incontinence(I always take the aisle, that's what GoogleEarth is for!), armrest hogs, crying babies and seat kickers , but find it helps to turn up your headphones and tell yourself 'This too shall pass'. You'll be there before you know it...
Nathan proves once again why he is made of win.

Wish more would take these notions of CCR to heart, too, as I try my very best to apply the etiquette myself. Being 6'5" and 225 lbs does not make coach airline travel fun by any stretch of the imagination.

[ edited by clarkkent179 on 2007-12-03 15:14 ]
I hear next he's planning a riveting entry on shoelaces.
Which i'm eagerly awaiting. I always wondered why the rabbit runs round the tree before going into the burrow. And what's the consensus on triple knots ?
Saje, yep, it's my first flight ever.

I'm terrified of heights and have no real desire to get in the sky. Wish me luck.
Good luck UpC. You don't need it though, remember, statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel. Big Blue wouldn't lie to us ;).

And after quite a short time the height becomes an abstraction - you're so high, it's not a height anymore, it's a map. Hope you can find a way to enjoy it, i've flown with a few nervous flyers and I always feel sorry for them missing out on the experience.
I'm going it alone, too.

Anyway, thanks for the well wish, Saje, and no, of course, Superman would never lie to us. ;-)

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