20 Things I’ve Learned about Flying in 2012

Flying to Kigali tonight on a last-minute trip, it struck me that I have learned a lot about flying this year.  Other than “too much of it really puts a damper on triathlon training”, what did I learn??  Glad you asked.  I give you my most recent spur-of-the-moment list, “20 Things I’ve learned about flying in 2012”:

  1. It’s easier to get the seat you want by chatting up the check-in lady about her day than going online to reserve 24 hours in advance
  2. Emirates is the world’s greatest airline.  Absolutely unequivocal.
  3. Turbulence is not a cause for alarm – even the bad stuff.  Clouds are bouncy. Just ask the Care Bears.
  4. The seatback entertainment system is a touch-screen, not a punch screen.  Somehow the one guy who doesn’t get this concept manages to sit behind me on 8 out of 10 flights.
  5. Airplane food is magic.  One of the greatest tragedies this life has to offer is when they give me a desert with an ingredient that I’m allergic to (i.e. mango).
  6. Crying babies.  Do not, I repeat do NOT, tell parents “ooh, he’s having a rough day, eh?  It must be the pressure on his ears…”  Not. Helpful. At All.  Better to help by making funny faces at the baby – team effort to make the kid laugh.
  7. If you are super nice to the stewardesses AND you’re not faking it, that treatment will come back to you 10-fold.
  8. The inverse of the above is also true, and it will come in the form of the world’s most passive, yet vengeful, aggression (and is much-deserved).
  9. Best Christmas shopping = Sky Mall and its international equivalents
  10. Carry-on only…unless traveling for 4+ weeks, moving to a new city, or carrying awesome, huge gifts.
  11. When hitting on the passenger next to you, timing is everything.  Start too early and you’ll run out of topics and seem boring or annoying.  Start too late and you’ll rush the close.
  12. Always think of who else is making the same trip, on the same day, for your same conference, and potentially sitting right behind you, BEFORE hitting on the passenger next to you.  Screwing this one up can make the first night’s conference dinner VERY awkward…
  13. Window on short trips, aisle on long.  Middle is simply not an option.
  14. At some point I’m going to need to ask for an exception to the airline rules.  My ability to score that exception is directly proportional to the number of times I can get the stewardess or check-in lady to laugh.
  15. Drinking on the plane is great for long-hauls, so long as 5x the amount consumed is matched with water, or if I have the next day off work.
  16. From observation (not practice!), the fabled “mile-high club” is not for the feint of heart.  I’m pretty sure it’s only feasible on 777s or A380s, and even then only on long-haul sleeper flights.  Your chance of getting caught in any other scenario has to be 95% given restroom traffic and flight crew rounds.
  17. Stressed-out flyers are awful.  No other thought on this – they’re just bad.
  18. Quality sleep in economy class is like playing the lottery – so hopeful going in, then asking yourself why you even try after your numbers don’t match.
  19. If you want to feel good about your day, just walk past the gate with flights to Sudan, Somalia or Afghanistan (assuming you’re not traveling to one of the three) – things will brighten quickly.
  20. You have not lived until you have vacationed in the Dubai airport.
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