Seven ways to straighten up and fly right

Somewhere around hour 11 of a recent 26-hour marathon trip by train, plane and automobile from Soave to San Francisco I was struck by a thought: Have you ever noticed that the people hauling the biggest suitcases around airports are often not really dressed that well? As in you almost want to ask if they’ve got 25 other ugly orange shirt/green pants outfits stuffed into that super-sized Samsonite that just gave you a nasty knock on the ankle. Also, little known fact: You will not actually add a year to your life for every time you cheat the carry-on size limits.

And don’t get me started on how flying folks behave once the plane is aloft. Seriously, 22c? You decided you had to get up and do the cha-cha-cha in the aisle for 20 minutes the second I’d finally settled into a fitful doze? To be fair, it may have been hard for you to figure out what I was doing since it was midnight, I had reclined my seat, covered up with a blanket, inserted ear plugs and had a sleeping mask over my face.

Still, since insulting strangers is never a good plan, I’ve come up with these handy little tips on how to travel in hopes they will gently spread a message of flying with poise and panache.

DON’T: Use air travel as an excuse to dress like someone fleeing a national disaster. I don’t want to see your faded sweatpants, stained T-shirt or mud-splashed fake Ugg boots. Velour leisure suits are acceptable … if you are over 65 and know short people who call you Grandma.

DO: Wear stretchy, comfortable clothing. Leggings under a tunic top are a good option if you are of the female persuasion. A long knit skirt with a cardigan over a camisole also works. Guys, your trusty khakis and a polo shirt won’t let you down.

DO: Take comfy socks to wear in-flight. I can’t guarantee they will ward off the dreaded traveler’s disease known as “cankles,” but they can help.

DON’T: Hog the armrests. You get one rest for your own. Usually, the other belongs to the person sitting next to you. Respect the boundary. It’s a little known fact that Dante’s 10th circle of hell was reserved for people who stick both elbows out.

DO: Use the armrests for support when getting up. They are stronger and are a much more efficient method than pulling mightily on the headrest of the person in front of you, causing their poor head to bounce like a dinghy in a nor’wester. I’m looking at you, 29E, Delta Flight 087.

DON’T: Spend 10 minutes quizzing the flight attendant about the dinner. If you have dietary issues, say so when making your reservation. But acting like you’re deciding whether to get the seared foie gras or truffle-stuffed quail at Chez Snob is just annoying. It’s airline food, chicken or beef, pick a side.

DON’T: Bring pungent food on board. Save the tuna sandwich and salami stick for a time where 75 people won’t have to live with their olfactory legacy from Sacramento to Denver.

And there you have it, seven tips for trips that should fill the skies with well-dressed and well-behaved people in no time flat.

If you want to thank me, I’ll be the one in socks, not pulling on  the head rests and directing a multilingual glare at the dude dancing up and down the aisle.




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