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Learning to fly.

It seems the airlines, with all their cutbacks and mergers accompanied by a complete lack of overall service, have created an ‘every man for his/herself’ culture, including airline employees. Who’s actually running this show? Who is actually in charge? Who’s PMing this rodeo?

I have seen an incredible amount of airport scenarios – as have most who travel for work – that I still don’t understand, even after they are resolved. These oddities in the world of customer service would not “fly” in any other consumer establishment. I have yet to meet two people who have the same take on the LOST-esque ‘islands’ that airports have come to resemble. Once you show your first ID, hand over your luggage and get by that first ticket-checking TSA agent, all bets are off.

Why is air travel a dead zone for common courtesy, polite interaction and just plain common sense? Don’t get me wrong – I understand the chain reaction that happens. Late planes, missed layovers, lost luggage… all these commonplace travel woes result in cranky, tired and fed- up air travelers, whose ‘tude eventually leaks out in silent (or not-so-silent) contempt and frustration. But to whom, I ask, is this attitudedirected? The people in charge? Doubtful. How rarely do you get to voice your complete dissatisfaction with your travel experience to someone accountable?

No one ever seems to take the blame for any of the inconveniences that so often plague air travel. This is not to say that I have not had my share of good air travel experiences, and I do try to take the good with the bad. Many times, to my pleasant surprise, I have been unexpectedly upgraded, apologized to and/or offered a complimentary adult beverage (the latter being almost as extinct as smoking on the plane).

In my attempt searching for the answers I have only been left with more questions. Most times I feel like people should be walking around the air terminals with tee shirts that read “…and I paid for this abuse.”

I have committed to trying a new golden rule while traveling: no matter what happens, ‘kill them with kindness’. This is not a new concept, of course, but it is tried and true. Just be nice to all inhabitants of the “island”. It’s not about them so much as an act of self-preservation for the sake of your sanity.

I have spent many, many stressed out, frustrated days traveling the airways; in and out of this airport and on to the next. No matter what, all I really end up doing when I get disgruntled is make myself miserable and possibly piss off airline employees. Chances are, had I just been nice regardless of right or wrong, they would have (if even in a small way), found it within their power to help me out. Believe me, I have tried both ways, and it boils down to one service industry example: don’t piss off your food server, because they deal with what you are about to put in your mouth. It’s in their hands…literally.

So as for my tip for the road, I am presenting the idea that losing your cool while dealing with the frustrations of air travel is an unwanted source of personal stress. Relax… it’s not going to change anytime soon. A healthy change of perspective is a much more powerful strategywhen dealing with most of life’s adversities.

edited by casper