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Withering Glance: Air travel and the social contract

  • August 2, 2013 - 12:22 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

 

CP: Flying used to have a sense of occasion. Of flash. Of panache. Now, they may as well just paint “Megabus” on the side of the jetliner.

 

RN: No kidding, and we can’t pin this devolution entirely on the airlines, with their minuscule legroom, shrinking seats and lousy — correction, nonexistent — food. Our fellow passengers are making air travel a misery.

 

CP: Let me guess, someone in the seat next to you had overapplied the Drakkar Noir and brought on a Philly cheesesteak smothered in onions.

 

RN: Well, there is that, and yes, gross. Even nastier: the mystery passenger passing gas. Continually.

 

CP: Knock, knock, you SBD offenders. We do know it’s you, but we are far too polite to actually smother you in your besmirched seat.

 

RN: My sympathies to parents traveling with kids. Particularly when they see the “Oh, great, kids” look on the faces of jerks like me.

 

CP: I don’t advocate dressing up for a flight, although it’s not such a bad idea, since the airport concourse makes a great fashion runway. But I do wonder why it has become acceptable to show up for a transcontinental flight wearing gym shorts, flip-flops and a tank top, a k a, “pretty much what I passed out in last night.”

 

RN: Or worse. I’m all for those U-shaped, poly-filled neck pillows, particularly on long flights. But don’t wear them in the terminal. It’s a pillow, not an accessory.

 

CP: And what about returning vacationers who insist on broadcasting where they’ve been? Yes, ma’am, I know from your sarong and shell necklace and your deep Coppertone tan that you’ve just spent a fortnight burning yourself silly at Club Med in Cabo, but this is Minneapolis-St. Paul International, and it’s minus-7 outside.

 

RN: I love the logic behind treating the airline staff poorly. Yeah, behaving badly is really going to get you on that overbooked flight.

 

CP: Then there are those who take advantage of a flight delay to hit the airport bar like it was Mardi Gras and their birthday.

 

RN: Or the ones who keep talking — loudly, it’s always loudly — on their cellphones after the “turn off and store all electronic devices” order has been sounded.

 

CP: And don’t get me started on seatmates who spread their legs as wide as humanly possible and use the entirety of both armrests, leaving me to do my usual hunch-and-scrunch.

 

RN: That’s better than the people who sit down next to me and lift the armrest between our seats. Um, no.

 

CP: At that point, they may as well just drape an arm over your shoulder. Fly the friendly skies, and all.

 

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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