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Sandy's Tips for Traveling

Sandy's Tips for Traveling

The scene from Jerry McGuire that resonates the most with me isn’t the “you complete me” scene. It’s the scene where Jerry is heading one way on a moving sidewalk at an airport and he wearily acknowledges acquaintances/competitors heading in the opposite direction.

There are some people – many EHS professionals I know, actually – who I refer to as “road dogs.” It is an unusual week when they are not on the road, traveling to a facility, headquarters, a conference, etc. I had my own mini road dog experience this week, having been through a number of airports up and down the eastern seaboard in the past 12 days.

Here are my observations:

• Certain airlines physically are more comfortable than others. United/Continental, if your seats get any smaller and the legroom any less, we’ll be sitting on the laps of our neighbors. I’m 5’3” with short legs and I feel cramped. I cannot imagine how a 6’2” man or woman with broad shoulders endures a long flight in coach.

• Certain airports have wayyyy better food than others. And at some airports, vendors that do business inside and outside the airport are not allowed to charge more for food/products they sell in the airport than they do at locations outside the airport. I love these airports. Just give me a place to buy a decent coffee, a decent meal (doesn’t have to be gourmet but should be fresh and fairly healthy), a decent frozen yogurt or ice cream and a bottle of water for less than $4. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

• When my seat is 8A and I’m in the seventh seating group, that airline has too many classifications of “special” customers. For example, the list of early boarders for some of my flights has grown from parents with small children, active military, people needing additional help and first-class passengers to a laundry list that includes (sorry, United): MileagePlus Premier members, United First, United Global FirstSM, United Business, United BusinessFirst, Copa Airlines Clase Ejecutiva customers, Star Alliance Gold and Silver members, Chase Presidential Plus, MileagePlus Explorer and OnePass Plus cardmembers. Really?? It sounds more like a Saturday Night Live sketch than a boarding announcement.

• Fellow passengers: You know you’re traveling. Why are you wearing complicated shoes (women), juggling a half-a-dozen carry-on items (again, women) or have a dozen pockets full of items guaranteed to earn you a frisking (men)? You hold up the line and make the rest of us cranky.

• Parents with small children: Please do not wait until you are standing in the plane’s doorway to start pulling children, sippy cups, diaper bags and assorted items from strollers. That stroller should be stripped of all objects – including the children – and folded by the time it makes it to the bottom of the ramp. Again, you tie up the line and make the rest of us cranky.

• Dear airlines, I’ve just paid you 30-50 percent more for a plane ticket than I paid a couple of years ago, and there are fewer flights to choose from, you no longer offer even the basest amenities in flight and I have to pay $25 each way to check my suitcase. Give me the whole can of pop!!

• Why, when you’re on one of the last flights in that night, is your gate one of the furthest from the terminal? Is that a section of Murphy’s Law no one talks about?

I have huge respect for the airline and airport employees who have to deal with oversized bags, cranky passengers and bad weather all day, and for the road dogs, who have to deal with amateur travelers day in and day out. As for me, I’m glad I don’t have to be on a plane or in an airport for a couple of months.

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