Ten of My Observations of Travel Over the Years

impart to you ten of my observations of travel over the years which seem to prove themselves to me over and over again. Keep in mind that this list of ten items is not exhaustive by any means — I did not even touch upon rental car and hotel experiences — and, as they say: “your mileage may vary.”

1. My seat is the only one missing the in-flight magazine.

In the in-flight magazine of one particular airline, I enjoy doing the crossword puzzle. If that magazine is missing from the seat pocket in front of me and I am one of the first to board — or if the crossword puzzle had already been completed — I will search the other seats for a magazine with the crossword puzzle untouched? This one? Nope — crossword puzzle has been completed. This one? Nope — that page was torn out of it. What is that disgusting stuff all over this one? I ain’t touching that! Of course, I can always ask a flight attendant — and I do in extreme circumstances — but I would rather not bother him or her.

Fortunately, this issue — pun intended — becomes less important when I have a portable electronic device with me on which I can play electronic games and listen to music, which is important to me.

2. On an airplane which is not full, the middle seat next to me will not remain empty.

“Look forward and behind you on the airplane”, I think to myself. “Every aisle seat and window seat is occupied.” A final passenger boards the airplane and is told by a flight attendant to choose any seat. “No. Not here. Please do not choose this seat next to me. There are seats closer to the front of the airplane. There are seats closer to the — aaarrgh!

Perhaps a middle seat is considered preferable to some passengers — especially when I am sitting next to it for some inexplicable reason?

Bonus points if that passenger is chatty or clearly has poor hygiene.

3. Delays resulting in the airplane needing to be de-iced.

Delays at an airport during cold weather will usually be long enough that the airplane will need to be de-iced just as it is next in line at the runway for take-off.

Bonus points if the airplane on which you are a passenger had already been de-iced once…

…but if this happens during the summer at an airport near the Equator, you have some seriously bad luck.

4. The overhead storage bin above my seat is completely full.

Yes, I know there are ways around this inconvenience — but it always seems to happen when I am carrying more that I usually do, no matter when I board the airplane.

Fortunately, I rarely carry more than I usually do aboard an airplane; and I have no desire to engage in the wars over the overhead storage bins which seem to occur…

5. When the aircraft arrives early, it is time to play musical gates.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have arrived 45 minutes early — but our gate is not ready yet. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until the Fasten Seat Belt sign is turned off. Thank you.”

By the time it has been determined that the original gate assigned to our flight will not be available anytime soon and after circling the airport or sitting in the “penalty box” waiting for a gate to open, 90 minutes will have elapsed.

One corollary to this is if you have someone waiting to pick you up, you will be greeted with that quizzical look on the face of that person — accompanied with the ubiquitous “I don’t get it. It says here that your flight arrived early. What happened?!?”

6. The passenger seated in the aisle seat decides to wait until everyone else leaves the airplane.

This is especially true when I am seated in the window or middle seat in that same row. I am not sure why someone would do that. Is that person so comfortable in that economy class seat that he or she wants to savor it as long as possible? “Man, I just had the most comfortable coach seat in which I have ever sat — and I don’t want to leave it!” Is there something awaiting that person outside of the airplane that he or she does not want to face? Is that person just being polite to the other 150 fellow passengers aboard the airplane?

If I am in a hurry, I will politely ask that person to allow me to pass through; and usually, that works.

I am working on an upcoming article pertaining to the etiquette of leaving an airplane once the flight has concluded. That should be interesting…

7. The airport in another country at which I arrive will only have one or two lanes open for customs for foreigners.

You do not realize just how many people exist in this world until you are one of the passengers of several wide body airplanes from all over the world which happened to arrive at that airport within 15 minutes of each other; and everyone has to queue for the one or two lines for customs.

There are three corollaries to this law: even if I am the first person off of the airplane, the passengers of ten other airplanes which just landed are already in line ahead of me; residents of that country seem to have a choice of ten open empty lanes from which to choose; and somehow, the reverse effect seems to be true whenever I return to the United States…

…although I must admit that since kiosks have been installed in the Immigrations and Customs areas at airports in the United States, being processed has been significantly faster for me.

In a recent article, I asked if there should be four types of lanes for the Pre✓ program operated by the Transportation Security Administration; and I am wondering if something similar should be considered for Immigrations and Customs areas at airports.

8. The airport shuttle bus which I want will not arrive right away.

Whether the shuttle bus at the airport is for parking, a hotel, or a rental car company, I can be assured that I will see two or three shuttle buses from its competitors before the one I want arrives.

There are two corollaries to this observation: one is that the shuttle bus I want will have just left by the time I arrive to catch it; and the other is that the wait for the shuttle bus which I want will be proportional to the duration of the flight on which I had just been a passenger.

One example of that experience is documented in this trip report for a recent hotel stay in Spain; although I do admit that the experience was partly my fault.

9. My car will be the last stop on the shuttle bus at the parking lot.

Whenever I return from a trip, I want to get to my car as soon as possible — but no matter how many passengers are on the shuttle bus, mine is usually the last stop.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy the grand tour of the parking lot. I also get to witness the passenger with ten huge bags and a kitchen sink who boarded the shuttle bus after I did slowly unload and search for their keys while still on the bus. Hey — isn’t that the person who hogged that aforementioned overhead bin on my flight?

I suppose I could pay extra for covered parking or handsomely tip the driver of the shuttle bus — or perhaps consider using a service such as Uber…

10. A smoker will light up his or her cigarette next to me.

Regardless of the length of the airport terminal, that person having a nicotine fit while I am outside waiting for that shuttle bus will choose the spot right next to me to smoke — and the implement of choice is always a traditional cigarette and not an electronic cigarette.

There are two corollaries to this observation: one is that the wind will always blow in my direction so that I may enjoy the second-hand smoke to its fullest; and the other is that if I move away, a second smoker will camp out right next to me at my new location.

What about you?

As I said, I realize that ten observations may not be nearly enough and is far from exhaustive, so I will turn to you: what observations of travel have you experienced which you would add to this list?

Waiting for an airplane at the gates located in the bowels of Bahrain International Airport. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

12 thoughts on “Ten of My Observations of Travel Over the Years”

  1. Tim spooner says:

    You missed the middle aged Indian women who insist on wheelchair from checkin to being seated first
    then jump around like Chinese gymnasts once seated
    Then go back to being unable to walk on arrival

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I did miss that one, didn’t I, Tim spooner?

      The only correction I would apply is that nationality is not limited to someone from India — or to gender or age, for that matter…

  2. Matt says:

    You sound like one of those cry baby passengers that bitches at the flight attendant about every little thing. Grow up

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      There is one thing I can promise, Matt — and that is that I will never grow up.

  3. My only observation is relief that I’m not the only one against which the world conspires!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You are most certainly not, Kathryn Creedy!

      Please do not get me started on puns having to do with relief…

  4. here are 35 great observations….Yogi Berra, considered one of the best catchers in major league history, died of natural causes at the age of 90 Tuesday. The Yankees legend and Hall of Famer may be better known for the way he creatively butchered the English language, with what became known as Yogi-isms.
    Here are 35:
    1. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
    2. “It’s deja vu all over again.”
    3. “I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4.”
    4. “Never answer an anonymous letter.”
    5. “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
    6. “You can observe a lot by watching.”
    7. “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
    8. “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
    9. “It gets late early out here.”
    10. “If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.”
    11. “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
    12. “Pair up in threes.”
    13. “Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.”
    14. “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
    15. “All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”
    16. “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
    17. “Bill Dickey is learning me his experience.”
    18. “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
    19. “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”
    20. “I can see how he (Sandy Koufax) won 25 games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five.”
    Modal Trigger
    Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra in 1955.
    21. “I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.”
    22. “I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”
    23. “I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”
    24. “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”
    25. “I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?”
    26. “I never said most of the things I said.”
    27. “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
    28. “I think Little League is wonderful. It keeps the kids out of the house.”
    29. “I wish everybody had the drive he (Joe DiMaggio) had. He never did anything wrong on the field. I’d never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch, and he never walked off the field.”
    30. “So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.”
    31. “Take it with a grin of salt.”
    32. (On the 1973 Mets) “We were overwhelming underdogs.”
    33. “The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”
    34. “You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”
    35. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      This world will not be the same without Yogi Berra and his infamous observations, Enrico Palazzo’s Flying Free Points and Miles Secrets.

      Bob Murphy — one of the three late original announcers for the New York Mets — had his own sayings, which included:

      “More often than not, if the ball is hit out of the park, it is usually a home run.”

      I will also never forget the day the late Ralph Kiner temporarily forgot his own name during a broadcast of a New York Mets game.

      May Yogi Berra rest in peace…

  5. Jeff says:

    When I take the shuttle bus back to the lot I have had the same experience with the “Grand Tour”.

    I decided to make an adjustment. Now, every time (regardless of number of people on the bus) I’m on a shuttle I always get off at the first stop. After sitting on a long flight it feels good to walk.

    And you havent experienced exhilaration until you’ve seen the confusion and disbelief on the faces of a shuttle driver and remaining prisoners left behind when you exit early and opt out of the sit and wait and watch the linebacker stand by his car while a feeble driver insists on bringing his bags off the shuttle one-by-one game. Truly amazing. I highly recommend it 🙂

    1. Jeff says:

      I might also add that this generally gets you to the car quicker, which gets you to the exit gate quicker, and dramatically cuts down on frustration that normally comes from being dropped off last and then having to wait for the three people who got dropped off before you and are now sitting in their cars fumbling for coupons and money and tickets and generally clogging the whole thing up with their unpreparedness.

      Even in the bitter cold, I will always get off at first stop and walk. Only exception is if it happens to be raining. Heavily.

      1. Brian Cohen says:

        I should have read this before I answered what you first posted, Jeff — and are you ever correct.

        The only exception is that I will sometimes walk in that heavy rain. I am crazy that way…

    2. Brian Cohen says:

      I have done that many times, Jeff. I usually travel light; and I could use the exercise from the walk.

      That maneuver really pays off when looking in the rear-view mirror while stopping to pay for parking on the way out and still seeing nobody drive up behind me, meaning that I have saved a significant amount of time.

      I just might add this to the Stupid Tip of the Day series, as it is something I almost always do and yet never thought of imparting it as a tip because it just seems so obvious to me.

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