TSA agent at left doing nothing with four other long lines. Notice four other TSA agents standing around doing nothing.

There are few organizations that are as mis-managed as the airlines that fly the skies, the skies formerly known as “friendly.” Well, the Transportation Security Administration is just as mis-managed. It’s just that the TSA agents that interact with customers are generally inconsistent and inept while the flight attendants, flight crews and some counter personnel with the airlines are (generally) customer-focused and competent.

Despite government intervention into a Passenger Bill of Rights, flying has gotten more uncomfortable and customer satisfaction continues to decline. Even on Southwest Airlines, historically one of the top airlines for customer service, the bottom line now governs the management as corporate leaders squeeze more seats on their plans, cram more people on their airlines and fly into cities that are already jammed.

But the misery for flying doesn’t stop with the people who work for the airlines. Part of the responsibility for making flying tolerable belongs with the passengers, those same people crammed into seats with their knees crammed into the backs of the people sitting in front of them. So, here are my thoughts for airline passengers.

Guidelines for passengers
to make flying less miserable 

  1. The seat you’re leaning back supports my desk. Why must you lean back? Sit still.
  2. The seat back you’re kicking is my seat. Stop kicking it.
  3. Everyone wants to get on the plane. Get out of the aisle.
  4. I know you want to get off the plane too, but if you’re in the window or middle seat, sit down.
  5. Telephones were made so you don’t have to yell. Stop yelling. And, believe it or not, there was a time before cell phones. You probably don’t have to call everyone you know while still on the plane. If you must talk on the phone, go ahead, turn on the speaker so we can hear both sides of the conversation without straining.
  6. If you didn’t bring your earphones, turn off the audio. We don’t care to hear the soundtrack of your favorite video or your kid’s birthday.
  7. Speaking of kids. Sit down, preferably somewhere far away from me. Be quiet. Parents: Benadryl is a wonder drug in terms of how it makes kids drowsy if you let them sleep all last night. Airlines: Can’t flight attendants carry Benadryl?
  8. If you’re too big to sit in one seat, pay for two. If you need a seat-belt extender, that’s a clue.
  9. If you’re too big to sit in one seat, bathe and do not wear a tank top. And don’t strap a baby to your chest to save money if you can’t sit in the seat yourself.
  10. I know you have to pay for luggage now so the corporate airline owners can make more money, but if your carry-on weighs more than a small car or is the size of a small car, check it. At least don’t drop it on me.
  11. Wireless on the airplane isn’t free. Like luggage, it should be, but it isn’t. And just because you have Internet access doesn’t mean you need to stream videos consuming everyone’s bandwidth.
  12. If you’re flying into New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, or Baltimore, your flight is going to be delayed due to “weather,” “mechanical problems,” or “personnel.” The airlines won’t be responsible. You’ll have to pay for your hotel, meals and transportation. Be prepared.
  13. The TSA is incompetent as a bureaucracy. Accept it. Move on. Or stand in line for a long time while they stand around and do nothing. No choice.