-- Is charm school old-school? I hope not since the news is full of stories about travelers with etiquette issues. Like that dust-up over reclining seats.
Hard to believe two adults could blow up a disagreement over a couple of inches of legroom into a mega-crisis ending in a diverted flight that wrecked so many travel plans but that's what happened. Enough.
Charm school is now in session, with adjunct professor Seaney's new travel curriculum (a man who sometimes needs to take his own classes).
Etiquette 101 - No-no's of Verbal Abuse
• Course description: Students learn how violently mouthing off to a crew member (allegedly) can land you in a Middle Eastern courtroom. That's what happened to a British man during an Emirates flight from London to Dubai this summer; he was accused of leaping from his seat, throwing food around the cabin and threatening to kill a flight attendant. He also allegedly smoked in the lavatory which hardly seems worth mentioning at this point, but it should be noted that he denies all charges. The flight attendant's apparent crime: Cutting off the man's alcohol. Which brings us to our next course.
Etiquette 101 - The Dos and Don'ts of Drinking on Planes
• Course description: Students will discover how (as one Australian newspaper put it), "Boozing passengers [are a big factor] in an increase in the number of abusive incidents on flights." Incidents like the one that occurred in August when two women allegedly crammed themselves into a Sunwing Airlines lavatory to enjoy an impromptu cocktail party with duty free liquor (a big airline no-no). They also reportedly lit up cigarettes and got into a fist-fight. The captain was not amused and the Cuba-bound plane turned around and headed back to Canada. Essay assignment: Come up with drink limits per flight (we suggest two per cross-country trips) and whether passengers who've been drinking immediately prior to boarding should be banned.
Advertising 101 - Nudity and Smarminess
• Course description: Students study Spirit Airlines' current and historical online ads with a focus on sex and humor including a spoof of then-New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner [see political parody ad: "The Weiner Rises Again"]; spoof of naked celebrity photo hacking scandal [see Bare Fares ad: "We feel naked"]; and spoof of online lingo [see the Many Islands, Low Fares ad: "MILF Sale"]. Essay assignment: Since Spirit's low fares are so popular, does the airline need to resort to such advertising shenanigans?
Ethics 101 - Spamming and Scamming
• Course description: Students will learn to be careful about opening suspected phishing emails from airlines (many airlines have ongoing warnings about this) and will also study free-ticket scams where a letter arrives prominently displaying what looks to be a real airline name and logo, offering free flights. The 'offer' typical requires to recipient to attend a high-pressure sales pitch or pay expensive dues to travel clubs that offer very little. Essay assignment: American and Delta are fighting back with lawsuits against some of these so-called clubs, but what took them so long?
Communication 101 - Don't Keep Passengers in the Dark
• Course description: Students will hear tales of passengers stuck on tarmacs during delays. This happened recently on a flight to Las Vegas; according to passengers quoted in the media, they sat on a runway at Los Angeles International for five hours. "A hell flight," said one man, but an airline spokesperson claimed the delay was "only" two hours. Either way, it was unpleasant but passengers said the most hellish part was how "flight attendants disappeared" and passengers could get no information about why they were delayed. Assignment: Write about how informed passengers may be less inclined to spout off to the media about hell flights.
Rage 101 - Reclining Tips for Passengers
• Course description: Students learn three diplomatic approaches to solving disputes between passengers seated one-behind-the-other, especially when the one in front wants to recline his seat but the one behind wants to work. Strategies include: 1.) Passengers politely negotiate recline-time vs. seats-up time, so each can get what they want. 2.) Passengers agree to swap seats. 3.) Passengers call the flight attendant to referee the dispute. Assignment: Write about the need to wait until after you get the free pretzels to press the flight attendant call button because the flight attendant will probably be happy to intervene in such petty squabbles.
Rage 101 - Reclining Tips for Dummies
• Course description: Students are directed to fly on Allegiant or Spirit only because these airlines offer nothing but stationary seats. Essay assignment: Are non-reclining seats the wave of the future?