Naked Feet at the Airport

I thought I’d take a moment to share with you some quick thoughts inspired by my recent air travel experiences.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to spend a week with my parents who live in Florida. The visit itself was great, no problems there! Traveling to and fro; however, was another story!  I’m not talking about the inconveniences of added security checks; that’s old news and just a byproduct of the world in which we live.  It is what it is, as they say.  I’m talking about the attitudes of my fellow travelers and the airline staff.

For various reasons, I have flown nationally and internationally many times throughout my life.  Like many people, I have some sense of how traveling has changed over the years.  Unfortunately, I think people, in general, have become more inconsiderate towards their fellow travelers, and I believe many (not all) airline employees are fairly apathetic when performing their duties.  Regardless of whether it’s a fellow traveler or airline employee raining on your travel parade, the fun seems to start at the gate.

I’m not sure why people feel the need to swarm the gate as soon as boarding is announced.  This simply clogs the flow of boarding traffic.  We all have boarding groups, no one is getting on the plane any sooner than their assigned boarding group allows (unless they fall into a special “pre-boarding” category). Why not back up and wait your turn? At the departing gate of my hometown airport, there were so many people milling around the boarding line, hanging around the periphery, I had no idea where the line actually began or if I was cutting in front of someone.  It was ridiculous.

After surviving the boarding fiasco, then of course comes the fun of schlepping your way to your assigned seat.  Why, oh why, don’t people understand that once they’ve located their seat, they should slide out of the way of the boarding passengers behind them and then figure out their carry on bag situation? Instead, they keep the rest of us waiting while they dig around for earphones, water, and reading material before then trying to stash their borderline over sized bag in the overhead compartment. I was once behind a gentleman who decided he needed to text someone while standing in the aisle! As you can imagine, that did not sit well with those of us waiting behind him and he did get the hint pretty quickly.

As if dealing with inconsiderate travelers isn’t enough, there’s the grumpy airline staff and the delays or gate changes that add to the enjoyment of flying. This trip was no exception.  My outbound flight to DFW boarded on time but we sat on the airplane for nearly 40 minutes with no explanation as to why we were not moving. A late boarding passenger mentioned he had heard the delay was related to weight allowance issues though we never received any explanation even when we finally took off.  Once in the air, we had to enjoy the company of a flight attendant who appeared irritated by our very presence. Her attitude and apparent irritation made it somewhat difficult to believe the obligatory “thank you for choosing to fly with us today” speech at the end of the flight.

Because of potential delays and gate changes (especially with the airline I booked this time), I usually try to schedule connecting flights with at least two-hour layovers between them. On my return trip from Orlando to DFW, I had a three-hour layover. After deplaning, I found a somewhat quiet corner where I could sit and watch some videos in peace.  I was on the very end seat with three empty seats to my right.  Perfect! Until some woman plops down in the seat next to me but one.  I was still okay, I could handle that as long as she stayed there. But no, that was not to be – apparently she needed a nap.  After much rustling about and situating her belongings just so, she swiftly swung her legs over to the empty seat to her left, THE ONE IMMEDIATELY TO MY RIGHT, and then proceeded to kick off her sandals.  I tried to remain calm, tried to mind my own business and ignore the fact that some stranger’s naked and sweaty feet were only inches from me. Needless to say, I couldn’t hack it.  I promptly, and rather purposefully, packed up my iPad and left to find another quite corner.  How gross is that? What are people thinking?  I know they’re tired and I know they want to be comfortable, but the airport is not your home or your hotel room!  What is it about airports that causes us to lose any sense of decorum? Inflicting your naked, sweaty feet upon unsuspecting strangers is never okay!

While I am grateful to have had the chance to visit my parents, I think I may drive the next time.  At least the only other travelers I’d have to deal with would be my own family members and they definitely know better than to stick their naked, stinky feet anywhere near me.

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