The Top 11 Most Amazing Airline Passengers

Last week, I painstakingly compiled a list of The Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passengers. This week, a tip of the hat to The Top 11 Most Amazing Airline passengers.

1. The Full Passport Passenger of Mystery

When TFPPOM nonchalantly reaches for their tattered passport in the check-in line, you take notice. Stamps of every hue cover what little passport real estate remains—a kaleidoscope of international swashbuckling on full display.

You have never felt passport envy until now. Where have they been? Where are they going?

2. The Well-Traveled Child

Wise beyond their years, this kid has toured 72 countries extensively by the time they’re 7. What’s that you’re working on, Lil’ Johnny? A coloring book? Oh, a draft United Nations agreement for peace in the Middle East? Carry on. Might you pass the coloring book then?

3. The Former Flight Attendant

Order them a scotch. Sit back and listen. Everything you ever wanted to know about the business of flying is locked up in The Former Flight Attendant. Fancy gossip? They have plenty of that to go around, too.

4. The Seat Sacrificer

Airlines will occasionally entice a willing passenger with overnight hotel stays and other perks if they sacrifice their seat for whatever reason. This is where The Seat Sacrificer becomes somewhat of a god. Most passengers are nowhere near as flexible with their iteneries, or even concerned with the airline’s dilemma for that matter. The Seat Sacrificer is a true team player free from the chains of schedules and priorities.

5. The Returning Military Personnel

Always a heartwarming story despite your personal opinion on war. Especially if you’re lucky enough to witness the actual reunion at the terminal with their loved ones—man, powerful stuff.

6. The First Time Flyer

I can board a plane here in California and be in New York later today. Big deal. This means nothing to me. Not so for The First Time Flyer. Everything about flying is equally mind-blowing and frightening. Take offs, turbulence, landings—each event is a notch in The First Timers belt.They even pay attention to the mandatory safety presentation.

If you’re sitting window, offer them your seat. Point out the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re over Tennessee.

7. The Book Reader

The Book Reader has a certain Zen like quality to him/her. So engrossed in the details of their book, they’ll rarely participate in lengthy conversation, if at all. No chaos, no drama, no attitude. Just a good book and a long flight. Do not disturb The Book Reader.

8. The Eye to Eye

You don’t know The Eye to Eye, but you two share something special, be it callous comments directed towards a Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passenger or inside jokes on an event you both witnessed. You’re not friends. Not even acquaintances. Just kindred Eye to Eye spirits.

You’ll go hours without saying a word, but by the end of the flight, you exchange well-wishes and a few more subtle jabs at annoying passengers.

9. The Million Mile Business Flyer

The very definition of efficiency, these folks know how to fly. Given that a significant portion of their time is spent in airports and on planes, one would be wise to study their habits and techniques. Note the lack of oversized carry-ons. Ready for business. Precise. Calculated. Always calm.

One minor gripe, though, Million Mile Business Flyer: Lose the smug look on your face while cutting in front of us common folk en route to your short business class boarding line.

10. The Middle Seat Saver

Ever flown Southwest?  Then you know this trick. If the flight is not full, you and The Middle Seat Saver have an unspoken agreement to pile your stuff between you. Avoid eye contact with boarding passengers. The games we play.

11. The Roadblock

You’re about to miss your connecting flight. And nobody cares. Except for The Roadblock, who senses your desperate urgency. They’ll block traffic in the aisle to give you a jump on those few precious seconds. Good flying karma is coming your way Roadblock.

The Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passengers

The joys of flying are often exacerbated by these 11 knuckleheads.

1. The Chair Kicker

A gentle bump here and there, no big deal. Every 30 seconds? I’m about to flip out. Adjusting my seatback in a violent manner and rolling my eyes at you are completely ineffective. One of these days I’ll wait until your tray is full of liquids and electronics, when I will then crank my seat back and forth 40 times.

You’ll never kick another seat again. Mark my words.

2. The Climb Over You To Grab Their Bags In The Overhead

The race is on. Once it’s safe to unfasten our seat belts, let’s see who can grab their bags the fastest. Be sure you put your crotch in everyone’s face as you climb over them. And then stand uncomfortably in the aisle for 15 minutes waiting for an entire plane load of people in front of you to disembark.

3. The Non-Attentive Parent

Got a crying, whining kid who won’t shut up? No problem. Slip on those headphones and let every other adult around you suffer. Baby poo-poo their diaper? Don’t worry about it. Take a nap. Little runt putting their greasy, dirty hands all over everyone’s stuff? Oh well. Somebody has to entertain this child.

Hey, just a quick FYI: You’re the worst parent in the world.

4. The Me Me Me!

Ding. Flight attendant. Yes, I’m quite cold. Fetch me a blanket. Ding. Flight attendant. Yes, I’m awfully thirsty. Water, right away. Ding. Flight attendant. Yes, I would like a pillow. Ding. Flight attendant. More water please, and perhaps a little orange juice. Ding. Flight attendant. Any idea when we’ll land? Ding. Flight attendant. This pillow isn’t soft enough.

Ding. Annoying passenger. We hate you. Ding. A lot.

5. The Use Your Shoulder As A Pillow

Here’s a  tip: Purchase one of those U-shaped pillow things they sell in every airport gift shop around the world. This should keep your giant, drooling head in your own cramped space. If you emerge from your deep slumber covered in obscene Shapie decorations, don’t look at me. You earned it.

6. The Sickie

You look like you have the plague. Throw in a metal tube with closed air circulation, and you and your fellow passengers are sure to have a quality flight. So be sure not to cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing all over the place. Breathe really heavy in my general direction, too. I really appreciate that. Tissue?

7. The Stand Up To Stretch With Their Ass In Your Face

I prefer aisle seats, but immediately regret the decision the moment I realize I’m parked next to people who can’t sit still longer than 10 minutes. Better stretch those legs and stand with your ass 3 inches from my face. No, that’s not awkward at all.

8. The Talker

Easy to spot, difficult to avoid. They were in the terminal chatting with the wall when nobody else would listen. Alone time is a thing of the past should you unfortunately be seated next to this guy. Hey, where you from? What do you do? Oh, where you traveling? Very nice, I went there once with my family. My sister’s husband’s brother’s uncle worked near there once and blah blah blah blah.

Your life story. So interesting. Shoot me.

9. The Fart Machine

Sly as a smelly fox, The Fart Machine acts like he’s not dropping noxious fumes every few seconds. You know it’s him. He knows you know, too. But he’ll avoid eye contact at all costs. And keep on rippin’ em.

I am pointing my vent at you full blast for a reason, pal.

10. The Will Not Check Enormous Bags

Your carry-on is the size of a rhinoceros. But there is no chance in hell you’re checking it. So we’ll wait a half hour as you struggle to jam that thing into the overhead. Make sure everyone gets involved in your carry-on tribulation while you’re at. Still doesn’t fit? Rearrange the small, reasonable carry-ons. Maybe even drop a few bags on our heads. Spend the half hour apologizing profusely. Insincerely, of course.

See my small backpack there? Yeah, the one under the seat. Jackass.

11. The Stand In Line At The Restroom

The flight crew has already instructed you 20 times to please be seated until the restroom is available. Yet there you go again, hoping to secure your spot in line. Somehow you are always a window seat. Why does this happen?

How about you not drink 5 gallons of beer before boarding the plane next time? Just a thought.

Socioeconomic Adventure Gaps: What’s the Solution?

Adventure is a state of mind, you could argue. Available to anyone, anywhere, with the right amount of determination and imagination, adventure is abundant in its infinite forms.

Let’s face it, though. Adventure is oftentimes cost prohibitive. Mountain biking, backpacking, traveling internationally, skydiving, whitewater rafting — you name it, certain components necessary to achieve adventure are simply not an option for many people.

The socioeconomic adventure gap exists, and it’s quite large.

This got me to thinking. What if the barrier to entry were easier? What if cost prohibitive adventures were accessible to everyone?

Let’s crunch a few numbers first. I’ll work within the confines of an activity which has given me countless hours of satisfaction and happiness at a particularly high cost: snowboarding.

General Costs Associated with Snowboarding (give or take a few dollars):

  • Snowboard: $500
  • Boots: $200
  • Bindings: $200
  • Snow Pants: $150
  • Jacket: $100
  • Gloves: $50
  • Goggles: $100
  • Lift Ticket: $90

For a grand total of: $1,390

Note that I did not include the cost of transportation to and from the mountain, or the cost of food/beverages.

Is a family bringing in about the same amount per month going to pony up that kind of cash for their kid to go snowboarding? Absolutely not. They’d be out of their minds.

This is where those of us in a particular community come in — whether you’re a climber, kayaker, snowboarder, or whatever. If you’re anything like me, you have a bunch of extra gear collecting dust. What if we were to put our gear to good use by donating to somebody in need? What if we were then to provide our guidance and transportation and support and everything else associated with the activity?

So many of those barriers would be eliminated.

How this works, I haven’t a clue. Which is why I’d love to hear your ideas. Please do share.

Redwood National Park

Sometimes it seems like California has it too good when it comes to nature. Great beaches. Inspiring mountaintops. Epic scenery. And the biggest tress on the planet.

Redwood National Park is crowded with such monsters. The forest here feels like a primeval temple, a devotion of sorts to ancient gods. Or, for a less pious perspective, the redwoods here are simply beyond your imagination. You’ve never seen a tree this tall.

Fortunately for us modern humans, we still have an opportunity to visit these old giants. With the gold rush of the 1850s came an unsustainable need for lumber. In effect, large tracts of old-growth redwood forest were axed. According to the National Park Service, “logging had consumed nearly 90 percent of all the original redwoods by the 1960s.”

Alarmed environmental activists eventually intervened, pushing for responsible logging practices and preservation. Their voices were heard, but large-scale logging continued in the area until Congress created Redwood National Park in 1968.

Here are a few photos from our recent redwoods camping trip.

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All it needs is a doormat.

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A maximum tree hugging effort for scale purposes.

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Safety first, says the elk.

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Claw marks left behind by a critter with big claws.

For more big tree action, read my post on sequoias.