Jacksonville 904 Dec/Jan 2015 : Page 14

R&R ̈ WORDS BY ANGIE ORTH ? UP IN THE AIR The etiquette of air travel in an increasingly unpleasant atmosphere “ f I have to turn around again, we’re going to have a prob-lem!” An abruptly barked warning from the man seated in 3A inter-rupted the hum of the United flight’s engines and startled me so much that I dropped my book in my lap. I’d just settled in for the first leg of a long trip to Greece, a 90-minute hop from Jacksonville to Washington, D.C., and the last thing I expected on this afternoon flight was con-frontation. The man started the commo-tion about 15 minutes into the trip, turning around in his fully reclined seat to scold another passenger in 4A for bothering him. From my view, 4A was at-tempting to work on his tablet while 3A’s seat was pressed almost into his lap—yet 4A was the one under attack. As we flew, 3A turned around to scold 4A at least a dozen times, each interaction growing in intensity. When 3A ordered a whiskey on the rocks, I whispered to the flight attendant to be aware of his behavior. After downing his drink, 3A left his seat and ag-gressively pushed the guy in 4A, stumbling to the lavatory. The passengers and flight attendant had a chat and when 3A re-turned, everyone had shifted seats so that he would no longer have contact with 4A. We averted a crisis and a diversion, and to my knowledge the inci-dent was never reported. As a travel writer, I fly often, so naturally I’ve experienced my fair share of bizarre in-flight inci-dents. Once I woke in the middle of an international flight with a strange man’s bare feet on my lap. Once a toddler turned around and dropped slobbery cookies into my dinner. In Kenya, my bush plane aborted takeoff and spun out into the savanna during a storm. Until recently though, I’d never experienced passenger air rage. But as tickets increase in price and seats decrease in size, similar incidents seem to be on the rise. This summer alone, several flights were di-verted due to passenger fights over reclining seat disagree-ments. So why the sudden increase in air rage? “Travelers are miserable. Un-less you're one of the privileged elites sitting in one of the lie-flat seats, air travel is unbearable, and it's getting worse,” says Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and customer service expert. In this instance, alcohol I played its part, but cramming two full-grown men into seats that I find uncomfortable at a compact 5’3” is a recipe for dis-aster. Add flight delays, a solid pre-flight groping from the TSA and a few crying babies, and it’s no surprise that travelers’ fuses are shorter than ever. “There are so many reasons why there's an increase in bad passenger behavior. I think full flights mixed with uncomfortable seats with little leg room is the biggest problem,” says Heather Poole, author of Cruising Atti-tude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet and a flight atten-dant with a major carrier for almost 20 years. “Still, it doesn't give anyone the right to overreact and throw water at another passenger or kick a seat, but some passen-gers think it does.” Is relief on the horizon? Not really, Elliott says. “We don't re-ally have any real options when it comes to flying. Mergers and bankruptcies have squeezed most competition out of the sys-tem. Unfortunately, airlines won't stop squeezing us until the gov-ernment says ‘enough!’” With little hope of an im-proved air travel experience coming from the airlines, it’s up to passengers to self-police and prepare for a less than comfort-able experience. Practice kindness. It’s almost guaranteed that a full flight will have at least a few inconsider-ate passengers, but by packing some extra patience along with earplugs, you can help avoid air rage incidents. “Kindness goes a long way. I always tell families traveling with young kids to say hello to their neighbors when they sit down,” says Poole. “That makes it easier for everyone to communicate before somebody starts kicking a seat or banging on a tray table.” There’s a good chance there will be crying babies and maybe a drunk passenger disturbing the peace on your next flight, so plan to be even more patient in the air than you are on the ground. 14 : 904theMagazine.com : December 2014

R&R: Up In The Air

Angie Orth

The etiquette of air travel in an increasingly unpleasant atmosphere

"If I have to turn around again, we’re going to have a problem!”

An abruptly barked warning from the man seated in 3A interrupted the hum of the United flight’s engines and startled me so much that I dropped my book in my lap. I’d just settled in for the first leg of a long trip to Greece, a 90-minute hop from Jacksonville to Washington, D.C., and the last thing I expected on this afternoon flight was confrontation.

The man started the commotion about 15 minutes into the trip, turning around in his fully reclined seat to scold another passenger in 4A for bothering him. From my view, 4A was attempting to work on his tablet while 3A’s seat was pressed almost into his lap—yet 4A was the one under attack. As we flew, 3A turned around to scold 4A at least a dozen times, each interaction growing in intensity.

When 3A ordered a whiskey on the rocks, I whispered to the flight attendant to be aware of his behavior. After downing his drink, 3A left his seat and aggressively pushed the guy in 4A, stumbling to the lavatory. The passengers and flight attendant had a chat and when 3A returned, everyone had shifted seats so that he would no longer have contact with 4A. We averted a crisis and a diversion, and to my knowledge the incident was never reported.

As a travel writer, I fly often, so naturally I’ve experienced my fair share of bizarre in-flight incidents. Once I woke in the middle of an international flight with a strange man’s bare feet on my lap. Once a toddler turned around and dropped slobbery cookies into my dinner. In Kenya, my bush plane aborted takeoff and spun out into the savanna during a storm.

Until recently though, I’d never experienced passenger air rage. But as tickets increase in price and seats decrease in size, similar incidents seem to be on the rise. This summer alone, several flights were diverted due to passenger fights over reclining seat disagreements. So why the sudden increase in air rage?

“Travelers are miserable. Unless you're one of the privileged elites sitting in one of the lie-flat seats, air travel is unbearable, and it's getting worse,” says Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and customer service expert.

In this instance, alcohol played its part, but cramming two full-grown men into seats that I find uncomfortable at a compact 5’3” is a recipe for disaster. Add flight delays, a solid pre-flight groping from the TSA and a few crying babies, and it’s no surprise that travelers’ fuses are shorter than ever.

“There are so many reasons why there's an increase in bad passenger behavior. I think full flights mixed with uncomfortable seats with little leg room is the biggest problem,” says Heather Poole, author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet and a flight attendant with a major carrier for almost 20 years.

“Still, it doesn't give anyone the right to overreact and throw water at another passenger or kick a seat, but some passengers think it does.”

Is relief on the horizon? Not really, Elliott says. “We don't really have any real options when it comes to flying. Mergers and bankruptcies have squeezed most competition out of the system. Unfortunately, airlines won't stop squeezing us until the government says ‘enough!’”

With little hope of an improved air travel experience coming from the airlines, it’s up to passengers to self-police and prepare for a less than comfortable experience.

Practice kindness. It’s almost guaranteed that a full flight will have at least a few inconsiderate passengers, but by packing some extra patience along with earplugs, you can help avoid air rage incidents. “Kindness goes a long way. I always tell families traveling with young kids to say hello to their neighbors when they sit down,” says Poole. “That makes it easier for everyone to communicate before somebody starts kicking a seat or banging on a tray table.”

There’s a good chance there will be crying babies and maybe a drunk passenger disturbing the peace on your next flight, so plan to be even more patient in the air than you are on the ground.

Ask to move. If your seatmate is drunk, hostile or deodorant-averse, don’t be afraid to ask to move to another seat.

Accept the inevitable. If you’re sitting in coach, it’s probably not going to be comfortable, so accept that before you board. Respect carry-on baggage requirements, share armrests, don’t grab the seat in front of you when you stand up and don’t recline fully. If you must recline, let the person behind you know you’re about to lower the seat, so they can adjust laptops or beverages. And if you don’t like how things are done in economy, book a first class seat.

SLAM DUNK

Jax again hosts college basketball spring tradition

March Madness is returning to the River City in 2015. The NCAA men’s basketball championship kicks off with four games in Dayton, Ohio, on March 17 and 18. Second- and third-round games are set for Jacksonville, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Portland on March 19 and 21. Additional second- and third-round host cities include Charlotte, Columbus, Omaha and Seattle. The 14,000-seat Veterans Memorial Arena plays host to the six games in Jax.

“We are thrilled to welcome the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament back to Jacksonville,” says Mayor Alvin Brown. “We love sports in Jacksonville and we’re a proven winner when it comes to hosting the NCAA. We’ll show once again why Jacksonville is the place to be for March Madness.” Alan Verlander of the Jacksonville Sports Council will serve as the Tournament Director and Alex Alston of SMG has been named Tournament Manager.

“The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament again coming to Jacksonville is just another indication of the exciting, world-class sports and entertainment events hosted in our great city and the Northeast Florida region,” says SMG Jacksonville general manager Bill McConnell. “From the Eagles to Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Paul McCartney and March Madness, the Arena is earning its name as the place to experience A-list sports and culture.”

The city has previously hosted NCAA tournament games in 2006 and 2010. Tickets for the first-, second- and third-round games went on sale in mid-October. General fan tickets to the finals in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 4 and 6 are already sold out. More info available online at NCAA.com.

by John O’Mara

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/R%26R%3A+Up+In+The+Air/1880288/237619/article.html.

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