Tag Archives: travelers

Time for a knap

I spent most of last week on ‘planes, trains and automobiles.’ Unlike Steve Martin and John Candy in the iconic film of the same name, I suffered only minor delays in my journeys, but was constantly annoyed by one group of travelers —

Backpackers

backpack in airport

Backpackers clog the aisles of both airplanes and trains and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, appear to have no idea of the additional girth their over-the-shoulder luggage adds to their body. They careen down the center aisle, bumping people on either side (and behind when they need to back up).

Apparently the backpack cushions their body from all collisions too, because they never seem to notice or feel the need to apologize.

So, if any backpackers are reading this, take note the next time you travel. You leave behind a wake of bruised body parts and bad attitudes…

And they all have your name on ’em.

Dressed to soapbox

I object.

To the methodology and the terminology, and I demand an apology for Kansas City.

Travel + Leisure recently published their annual ‘America’s Favorite Cities’ survey, where readers rate major destinations in a number of categories.

“Worst Dressed City in America” is one of them.

Now, poor Anchorage has the most to be offended about — they earned the top spot — but Kansas City got punched at number ten.

Really?

Having travelers judge how well-dressed people are in a city is like judging a city’s cuisine by the offerings at the airport.  Tourists typically see other tourists when they visit anywhere.  Why?

Because they hit the tourist spots recommended by magazines like Travel + Leisure, which are congested with folks who don’t live there, and are dressing for comfort, not style.

“Worst Dressed Tourists in America” — perhaps.

But don’t judge a city by its gawkers.

Sitting pretty

I was wondering what I would write today, and then it hit me.

Literally.

I was sitting on the airplane, and the passenger in front of me reclined his seat back in one fast, forceful, in-my-face motion.  Since he was quite tall, his head was suddenly inches from my face.

There was no look back to see if I had my tray table down.  (It was.)  No quick check to make sure he wouldn’t overturn food or crush a laptop.  (I almost dropped both.)  He just pushed his way into my personal space.

This was war.

Now, I have a lot of sympathy for the overly tall on airplanes.  I have given up my exit row seat on more than one occasion to folks jammed into middle seats.  But this man had two seats to himself.  He could have easily angled his body to gain more legroom without robbing me of mine.

Allowing seats to recline on airplanes is based on the assumption that people will do the right thing.  Can we assume that anymore?

Sadly, I think not.

So I propose that, going forward, we remove the recline lever from all airplane seats.  Instead, the standard airplane seat will be set at a gentle recline at all times.  This compromise position will accommodate the majority of travelers and do away with the growing recline lever abuse.

It will also free up flight attendants of one pre- and post-flight announcement and duty — no more seat backs to straighten or police.

I like it.  What say you?  Vote in the poll below.  Be heard!

Rockin’

I took Amtrak yesterday to a business meeting outside Philly.

Why do trains kick air travel’s butt so soundly?

Of course there are the simple logistics.  No TSA security. No baggage check for most standard luggage. No plastic bag for toiletries, no removing coats and shoes, no arriving an hour before departure.

No hassle.

But I realized last night — as I sat in a comfortable semi-coma on a regional coach headed home — what makes trains more than merely the easier way to travel.

It’s the chugga chugga.

Trains literally rock you while you ride.  That signature motion soothes the nervous traveler and helps the overtired find sleep.

I think it takes us all the way back to the cradle.  Or, in my particular case, to the clothes dryer.  My mother used to sit my bouncer chair on top of the dryer to help me fall asleep.  The rocking motion and the warmth from the machine totally knocked me out.  (Still does.)

Now, people may not ride the train because of it, and Amtrak certainly doesn’t advertise it, but I think this subliminal motion really rocks.

Airplanes?

Well, the only motion they have to offer is turbulence.