Monday, April 4, 2011
HOW TO BE A GOOD PASSENGER (Plane, Train, Automobile or Ship)

PARENT PROBLEM: You are going on a trip. You have young children or babies who must travel with you. The thought of this is scary to you. You do not want to be what you once were annoyed by. How do you make sure you are a good passenger and not annoy others?

ANNOYED PASSENGER PROBLEM: You are on a trip. There are inconsiderate passengers around you. How do you solve this problem?

First of all ignorance is not bliss for anyone. It only creates problems. This solution is about problem-solving and helping people from both perspectives to understand what it means to be a good passenger. Sometimes SOLUTIONS are about being prepared to avoid the problem in the first place. Let’s address common courtesy and solutions to not being a problem by itemizing what makes a good passenger:

• A good passenger is a healthy passenger. DO NOT board a plane if you are sick. Not only are you putting your own health in jeopardy to get worse, but you are spreading germs throughout the plane and risk everyone else getting sick. This could ruin a family reunion, a holiday, a birthday, funeral, a business deal, and even cause death to a small infant/child or elderly person whose immunity is not as strong. Stay home. Get well. By doing this, you are saving yourself from being an annoyed passenger (when you’re sick, it’s easier to be grumpy because you don’t feel well. You also won’t be an annoying passenger coughing and sneezing all over the place while people are trying to relax, sleep and enjoy their flight without worry.

• If you are a parent and have children that are ‘screamers’ – you need to keep them entertained. This is going to be exhausting for YOU, but you must do this if you are to get to your destination sanely. If your child is of pacifier age, bring several in a plastic bag (it’s rare one will get you through a trip – they either get lost or misplaced or dropped). Bring treats and snacks and plenty of juice and toys. If you can afford a hand-held DVD portable player, kid movies are great entertainment and will keep your child occupied for at least 2 hours of the flight. You can also bring an interactive game or book.

• People in general need to be respectful of the ‘very tight personal space.’ Do not hog or hoard areas outside of your designated area. Keep voices soft and low. Do not blast your personal music players loudly and make sure not to eat offensive food/snacks that require messy assembly or usage of space further than your tray table. Try to avoid oniony and garlicky foods and foods that cause indigestion and excessive gas. No one wants to fly with a fellow passenger seated next to them with these issues. When accessing the pocket of the seat ahead of you – be aware there is a person seated there. Now is not the time to try to cram your magazines and personal items in that pocket – remember the person seated in the seat ahead of you can feel this in their kidneys. It is not comfortable or pleasant. Be gentle and don’t snap the back.

• Be calm – say please, thank you and if you have to ask a fellow passenger for something, be polite. You’ll definitely have a happier flight.

SOLUTION- ANNOYED PASSENGER: If you are the annoyed passenger: Keep in mind, the inconvenience/noise factor isn’t always something that can be helped. It can be attempted to keep this at a minimum. If what you consider to be an annoying passenger is at least trying to resolve the issue, you cannot and should not be angry with them, this will only make the situation worse. Be calm. Make peek-a-boo faces as the baby/child, smile. Sometimes just putting the child at ease can help the situation. If it is an older child, use humor – whenever possible. If you have valid complaints, tell your flight attendant about them. If the flight is not full, maybe they can move you to another seat.

SOLUTION – PARENT PROBLEM: Keeping your child quiet is no easy task. But you also end up with a handful of other problems. Kids get restless and end up kicking the backs of passenger seats. This is not polite. If your child needs to burn off excess energy, have them count on their fingers – count to ten holding up one at a time, then folding down, then folding up, then folding down again. This takes more concentration and focus, along with coordination and control. It’ll burn off that excess energy without annoying anyone seated nearby. If your child is older and not an infant or toddler, bring interactive games with buttons – this will accomplish the same thing. You can also have them do origami in the plane with sheets of paper, folding into animals or shapes. There are all kinds of fun instruction books and this will keep them busy for hours. Have them give each flight attendant a ‘present’ to say ‘thank you for a nice flight.’ It’ll make them happy and they’ll feel good about themselves.

If your child has a security blanket, stuffed animal – something that brings them comfort, do be sure to take it. It will keep your child calm, comfortable and will help them fall asleep more easily. If your child is on a bottle, make sure that when the plane takes off and lands that they are sucking that bottle so pressure doesn't build up in their tiny ears.

Above all, remember a plane, train, automobile or ship is a shared space. Take turns, do not be rude and be conscious of others around you. Travel is already stressful enough as it is, we don’t need to add more stress to it. Bon voyage!