Rules of the game

The first rule of air travel is: you do not talk about air travel. The second rule of air travel is: you do not talk about air travel. These rules are not written; they simply exist and are subject to change at any moment. I used to travel in a cocoon of ignorance, blindly following the herd, but recent trips have enlightened me and I am willing to share these rules with you if you remember rule number one.


Third rule of air travel: Do not try to do anything by phone. If you must change a reservation, never believe the Indian ticketing agent. Bairavi has been coached on how best to annoy you by mispronouncing your name, and calling you Ma’am even if you sound like Barry White and your name is John. If you ask about any other flights, she will tell you it is sold out. She does not understand English. Bypass this and fly standby by checking in at the airport.

Fourth rule of air travel: Flirt shamelessly with the counter ticketing agent. This one takes skill as you must determine if he or she will be flattered or repulsed by you. When you ask if you can be put on the standby list he will tell you that you must do this at the gate. This is a warning! You have not flattered him enough and therefore he has no interest in you. Flirt more and with luck, you will be told that you are number one on the standby list.

Fifth rule of air travel: You will always be standing behind the unseasoned traveller in the security line. Learn to spot these mouth breathing time sinks by looking for some common traits: a bewildered look, drinking from a two liter bottle of soda, or putting their luggage down and forgetting to pick it up. You cannot avoid it, but you can be prepared to skirt around them when they are surprised that they need to show ID.

Sixth rule of air travel: The counter ticketing agent is a liar. Proceed to the gate and ask the gate agent if you are on the standby list. She will tell you that you are the last person on the standby list. If you tell her you thought you were first, you may notice the airline personnel aggressive gesture: hand on hip, one eyebrow raised and lips pursed. Caution!: When you see this gesture, assume the submissive role by lowering your head and backing away slowly. Stand close to the gate so that you are in their line of sight and are not forgotten but do not look them directly in the eye.

Seventh rule of air travel: Do not joke about allergies with the flight attendant. On the rare occasion that a bag of eight peanuts are offered to you, the flight attendant will invariably be back in 45 seconds to snatch the bag of peanuts out of your hand and announce that there is an “allergy” on board. Apparently, allergies have achieved consciousness and no longer need human hosts. If you are offered pretzels instead, DO NOT joke that you are allergic to pretzels. You will immediately see the aggressive gesture described in the sixth rule. Assume the submissive role or you may see the aggressive gesture elevate to a finger wagging and neck roll.

The final rule of air travel: Your life is ending one minute at a time and if you have someone that you cherish, every tick of the clock that you save by following the air travel rules is another second closer to home. Learn them. Follow them. Love them.

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