09/13/2011 12:43 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2011

Joe's Rules Of Air Travel

There is absolutely nothing fun about air travel. From the second you arrive at the airport, you're being conditioned to be miserable. Lines of cars entering and exiting the various parking areas, all of which are overpriced. Random police officers on Segways and mountain bikes yelling at anyone who pauses for more than a second at the curb. The bewildering setup of most terminals, where one airline owns 90% of the place and if you're not flying that airline, you have to pull out an Ouija board and ask the spirits beyond how to get to your airline's ticket counter.

But when you mix in inexperienced travelers, self-entitled dickheads and complete morons, the experience becomes hell. Not just metaphorical hell, where you pass off a really difficult situation as "hell." No, I mean fire and brimstone, suffering for all eternity, et cetera -- because it pretty much drives those of us who travel regularly to want to murder a bitch. And I'm not really up on my Bible learnin' these days, but one thing I do remember is that murdering someone sends you right to the devil's playground. I don't wanna go there, so I'm going to try to fix you instead.

The majority of this guide is pointed at those of you who are inexperienced travelers. I don't hold much hope that I can change self-entitled dickheads -- for one thing, they don't read blogs. They're too busy watching real-time updates of their stocks to go enrich their brain meat with the thoughts of others. Plus, it's the thoughts of others, which don't matter to them. And I've lived enough of a life to know that you'll never fix the moron problem without the handy application of a flamethrower.

  • Get there on time. Rule Number One. First and foremost, numero uno, without question the most important and, honestly, easy thing you can do to make air travel less painful for everyone is get there on time. Most airports will cut off checking of baggage at the ticket counter 45 minutes before departure time.  Lines can take some time. If you are checking a bag, get there an hour and a half before your flight leaves, minimum. If you're not checking a bag, please for the love of God check in before you get to the airport over the internet. This will let you walk right to security. But if you don't, remember that lines take time. 
  • Don't break in line. I get it -- your shoes cost more than my car. I don't care. It doesn't matter how fucking important you are on the ground at your company where you sell whatever widget you sell. In the airport, we're all the same. If you were that important, you'd have your own private jet. You're here at the airport, though, so fuck you. Get in line. Wait in line. Don't bitch about how important the meeting is that you're going to be late for. If you followed Rule Number One it wouldn't be a problem. And also? I'm not your employee or your kid, so if you try to break in line in front of me, I"m going to call you out. Loudly. And I encourage everyone in every airport to do the same to assholes who do this. Trust me, they'll back down. 
  • Before you even get to the metal detectors, put everything that isn't your shirt, pants, socks and underwear in your carry-on. Not your pockets, your carry-on. Don't wait until you get up there to do it. I use a backpack with a front zipper pouch that I specifically leave empty, so that when I travel, I can dump everything into that one pouch. Phone, wallet, ring, belt, gum, chapstick... EVERYTHING. 
  • Everyone has to remove their shoes.  This may soon be changing, but until it does, you gotta take them off. And If you don't want your bare feet to touch the floor, wear socks. It's common knowledge by now. If you don't wear socks, it's not my fault. I don't want to hear about how dirty the floor is, and neither does anyone else in line. We're all annoyed already, you're just adding to the pain. And don't wear your calf-high Doc Martens which take a month to peel off your foot either. 
  • Shoes go in their own bin, as do laptops / iPads / tablets. Some airports are more lenient than others, but to save everyone time in case you're at one that isn't, just put your shoes in their own bin, and your laptop / computing device in another. 
  • Seriously, enough with the jewelry. You're flying, not attending cotillion. There's no need for 31 pounds of gold and platinum. This is actually the case all day, every day, no matter where you go, because you look like a guido retard. But that's another post. Walking through the metal detectors will get your metal detected. So take the shit off. Please. 
  • Wait until the "security" person tells you to step through the metal detector / scanner. They will bark at you if you don't, and that holds up the line.
  • Save the protests / bitching / attitude with the TSA. That's what Twitter is for. We're all equally resentful of the process the TSA puts us through. If you really want to protest, pull a John Madden and stop flying. None of us in line are going to sympathize with your plight, because we're sympathizing with our own plight. Rise up and rebel if you're going to, just get the fuck out of line before you do, thanks. 
  • PLEASE check the guidelines for what can be carried on before you try to carry it on. Don't know where to look? Here, I'll help. A two minute check of your carry-on will save you massive headaches and postage fees mailing your Leatherman back to yourself. 
  • If you want to change your seat, ask the gate agent BEFORE they start boarding. If you got there on time, this shouldn't be a problem. They're trying to board us, and we all want to board. Your middle seat is your problem if you didn't try to fix it before this point. 
  • Don't crash the gate. Okay, so if you look at your ticket, you will see the word "Zone" followed by a number. They will call this number shortly after the number before it, unless your number is "1" which likely isn't the case because you're reading this, and Diamond Premiere Platinum Ultrazord flyers don't read blogs, as previously discussed. You will earn exactly nothing whatsoever by getting to the gate before everyone else. There's no need to stack up five deep at the queue waiting for them to call your number. You will get on the plane. It's okay to just chill. I promise. 
  • Sit in your seat first. I'll admit -- I violate this sometimes. I'm HUGE. I hate sitting in middle seats, and sometimes I can't get a seat change. But when I do it, I take a seat before my own so if the passenger who rightly owns the seat shows up, I can just scoot to the row behind. Unless you're really good at that, don't take a seat that isn't yours, because you hold up the boarding process by needing to travel against the grain of the line to get on board. 
  • Use YOUR overhead compartment. Not kidding here, it's bullshit to think you deserve more than one spot in the overheads, and when you do this, you end up crowding out people who board later. Which means you're taking compartments that aren't yours. If I get to my seat and witness someone putting their coat and handbag and camera case and other shit that can fit under the seat in front of them into my compartment, I grab it, ask "Is this yours?" and when they say yes, I say "Here" and hand it to them. Now, because I look how I look, I get away with this 10 times out of 10. You may have worse luck, you may not. But if you follow this rule, we won't need luck, because we'll all get along. 
  • If you've got the aisle seat, you don't get both armrests. Even I don't do that, and as I've mentioned before, I'm massive. I also try not to sit with my legs splayed out which crowds the person next to me. 
  • You should have pee'd and poo'd before you got on. You're supposed to be a big boy and/or girl. When you use the lavatory while the plane is taxiing for take off, you violate procedure -- and again, I don't care about how much bullshit you think the procedure is, it is the procedure. Your protests are your own business, when they don't affect my flight. If you get up when we're taxiing, you'll keep us all on the ground and we will lose our place in line to take off, which means we sit on the runway until we can get a spot, which means they turn off the engines to save fuel, which means the air conditioning turns off, which means we all sweat and the plane stinks and FUCK YOU FOR BEING THIS WAY. Stay in your damn seat until they tell you you can get up. 
  • Listen to the flight attendant, please. She's not being a bitch. He's not being a dick. They're doing their job... Their shitty, shitty job of being a waiter in a cramped restaurant 30,000 feet in the sky. They have heard it all. They have seen it all. Don't be a dick, and chances are, they won't be one either.
  • Conversation is for those who want conversation. It's natural to want to strike up a conversation with someone you're going to be sharing a seat with for a few hours. It's part of the human condition, and a nice thing to do to pass the time. I've made several friends this way. But if I'm sending clear signals that I don't really want to talk, please don't push it. If I have my headphones on, guess what -- it's less likely that I really, really dig the song on my iPod and more likely that I just don't want to be bothered. It's nothing personal. Tap me on the shoulder if you need something or if I'm snoring, otherwise, just let me be. 
  • Perfume? Cologne? Smelly fried food? SERIOUSLY, FUCK YOU. There's no real advice I can give you here, besides don't fucking do this. If you do, you're a dick. I hate you. I will knee the back of your seat the entire flight to pay you back for the hours-long assault on my nasal passages. Put on your smelly shit when you land, and buy food that doesn't stink -- it'll also keep you from being a fat slob, but again, that's another post. Also, shower before you fly, please... Especially if you plan to take off your shoes. 
  • It's your kid, not mine. Shut it the fuck up. Seriously, what is it with people who have kids that suddenly they just don't feel beholden to the common rules of courtesy that are supposed to pervade this society? It's bad enough in restaurants and movie theaters. And I get that sometimes, you just have to fly with your baby, and air pressure changes hurt their ears. Crying babies aren't so bad until they just won't shut up. You could get up after the seat belt sign is turned off and take it to the back... That'd be nice. But if your kid isn't a baby and keeps yelling and yammering and throwing a tantrum, figure that shit out before I duct tape its mouth shut and hog tie it. 
  • If you're going to listen to music, please use headphones. Most phones and music players come with speakers built in. I wish they didn't. I find them convenient while showering or folding clothes, sure. But the rest of the time, they provide a means for retards to annoy me. I don't want to listen to Lil Wayne. I don't. I really, really don't. Don't play him on your music player's speakers. Please. God. Just. Don't. 
  • When the plane lands, try to be patient. Again, we're all going to get off that plane. There's no need to go shoving through the aisle and put your ass in my face while you wait for the terminal gate to dock. 
  • Let those with connecting flights get off first. Especially when your flight arrives late.  They're in a rush for a reason, try to help them out. It's already been a shitty experience flying with you, the very least you can do is help them not miss their connecting flight so they can get on another plane with another jerk who doesn't follow the rules. 
Did I miss any? What newbie / jerk passenger traits piss you off? Please feel free to add your rules in the comments.

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