In the last two weeks I took four flights. Even though I’m always a little bit scared, I love flying. I long for the whole experience: the anticipation, the airport shops and overpriced coffee, the sound of the engines just when the plane takes off, the amazing feeling that is overlooking a sea of white fluffy clouds and the little disorentation when you arrive to your destination. There is just one thing that I don’t like about the process: other people.
I remember when I was a kid we would dress up for our flights to Italy. Flying was a very special occasion and both flight crews and travellers were polite, sophisticated and quiet. Nowadays, almost everyone takes at least a couple of flights per year and flying is something just as ordinary as taking a train or a bus. While I’m very glad that we all have the opportunity of travelling frequently I really REALLY miss those days when flying was a unique opportunity and people were polite, sophisticated and, most of all, quiet.
Because when it comes to travel etiquette rules, quietness is as essencial as it gets. A couple of weeks ago, when we travelled to Madrid, we had to listen to a very loud teenager who was trying (quite desperately, to be honest) to impress a young lady who was sitting next to him. Three terribly long hours when not even the headphones could isolate that squawky voice that was suffering from verbal diarrhoea. We tried to watch a movie but that annoying buzz in the background made it almost impossible. When we left the plane, even people seated two rows before us were talking about that boy. At one point I almost turned around and shushed him, but I don’t feel comfortable telling strangers how to behave because I feel embarrased for them. And then I feel bad.
That got me thinking: is people not aware of the basic general rules of etiquette when travelling or do they simply ignore them on purpose? How taking your shoes off is something you will do in front of strangers? Has it become something normal because we have to do it in the security controls and then people think: ok, since I took my shoes off now, I might as well do it on the plane? Why people wear their strongest perfumes when they are going to be locked up with a bunch of strangers in an airtight vehicle? Is it because they want to show us what they bought at the duty free? And even worst: personal hygiene. Why forget it? In our flight to Verona last week my mum and I witnessed a very very very gross moment in the aisle seat were body fluids were involved. It was hard. What about those who cut lines, be it in the check-in counters or trying to enter the aircraft? Does that make them feel stronger or more powerful?
I don’t know… maybe I’m too picky or asocial. But just how I would say to my mum when I was a kid and I would see something annoying: would their mothers let them do that at home?