Getting through an airport is stressful at the best of times, and for crew members it can be no different. By the time we arrive at work (or are dropped off by the crew van) we literally have minutes to get to the gate, not to mention manage the maze that is airport security.
As a crewmember who is often in a rush, I've been able to observe some airport behaviours "Don'ts" which I thought I'd share with you. If you're guilty of any of these airport 'sins', then now is the time for change and to become a better citizen of the concourse :)
WALKING IN A LINE
Ok, we get it, you want to stay with your group. But there's no need to take up the whole concourse, blocking the way for anyone else who might want (or need) to pass by quickly. The biggest offenders of this particular 'Airport Ettiquette Infraction" seem to be families. Have a 'buddy system' if need be, so no one gets lost, but walking 6-abreast in a crowded departures hall is not good airport citizen behaviour. Walking in pairs in a large group is better than everyone walking side-by-side like a chorus line!
NOT PAYING ATTENTION
So there's a million things to distract you when you're in the airport- finding the right gate, making sure everyone you're travelling with made it through security, and so forth. But not paying attention to your surroundings can lead to disharmony in Departures. Hearing high heels coming up behind you at a fast pace? Probably a crewmember on a fast transit- make sure you keep to the side to allow them to pass. In an unfamiliar airport? Take time to know your gate number and check an airport map to see where you want to go. Another thing- watch what you're doing with your wheeled bags- I've seen many flight attendants have their shins taken out by inattentive people on the concourse and believe me, it's PAINFUL to work a 10-hour flight after being bashed in the legs or run over by a ten-ton carryon that someone is carelessly dragging behind them.
Think of the airport concourse like the road: if you're moving more slowly then everyone else, stick to one side so they can pass. Don't come to a dead stop suddenly without giving any warning- you're likely to cause a pile-up. If you're facing a conflict from on-coming people, the rule is: people without bags should give way to people WITH bags. It's harder to move quickly when you're pulling a bag, so if you are not dragging a bag, give way. In the case of two "baggaged" persons conflicting, the rule is generally larger has right of way. For example, the businessman with one light rollaboard gives way to the lady with 10 cases on a baggage cart.
KEEP LEFT (OR RIGHT)
As for the concourse, so for moving walkways, stairways and narrow areas. Stick to one side. Don't be the oblivious idiot blocking the escalator with a hundred fuming, late passengers and crew behind you. Observe where people stand on the moving walkway- most countries it will usually be the same as the way they drive. In Australia, it's the left, and faster-moving people overtake on the right. When passing, move aside as soon as you have passed if you're standing still, to allow those in a hurry to pass by you as well. In the UK, people generally stand on the right, even though they drive on the left (due to history of escalator development). Be sure to observe signs on moving walkways and don't take items on them that are prohibited.
DON'T BE A HOG
Use only the seats that you need in the gate area. If it's crowded, don't take 4 seats so you can sleep, but leave others standing. That's just rude, and they might be the person who puts their seat back in your face for 12 hours if you make them mad. If you must sleep, find an out of the way place. An acceptable time to use seats for sleeping is when you're delayed, and everyone is doing it- but be sure to check you're not depriving someone who needs a seat more than you, like the elderly or disabled. Remember, children are more adaptable and can sit on the floor. Children ideally should not deprive adults of seats, particularly adults carrying items or wanting to do work on computers. I was brought up this way, and I can assure you good travel karma will result. There's nothing to be gained by making your potential seatmates mad before the flight has even started!
TURN IT DOWN
Watch your video, listen to your music, play that video game by all means. But for the love of all that is holy, please, PLEASE use earphones. All of Gate 22D does NOT necessarily want to know what songs are on your 'Making Out' list, and bear in mind just because it's YOUR laptop or iPod, not all movies are suitable for watching in public places. (Tip: Leave these at home, because the FAs WILL tell you off if you try watch them on the plane) The earphone rule also applies for parents letting kiddies watch portable DVD players. 4 hours of Dora the Explorer is enough to make any crewmember consider cracking that exit open... ;)
MIND YOUR PEES AND QUEUES
There's toilets in almost every departure lounge. Use them. The last thing crew want is to have you do the mother of all dumps right before takeoff, thus gassing them out for a minimum of twenty minutes when the lavatory onboard is located next to the crew seats. When you're waiting four hours, it is not acceptable to ask the crew if you can pee during boarding- that's what airport toilets are for. Queue in an orderly manner. Be sure not to queue across other gates, walkways or the fronts of shops. If you must, join the queue at a right angle to encourage others to queue behind you, avoiding blocking access past the queue to others. Don't be gate lice (or as I like to call them, "seagulls") Just because there's an agent at the gate, doesn't mean boarding is starting. There might be preboard passengers or a technical issue, so jumping up as soon as a door opens and crowding right in there isn't going to help you. You've got 10 hours to enjoy that tiny aircraft seat; use the time to go buy a magazine- or better yet- a last restroom stop before boarding :)
DO UNTO OTHERS
Above all, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself! Consideration goes a long way in the airport, and believe me, airline staff notice and your behaviour might just be the difference between Middle-Seat Hell and Upgrade Heaven!
Hope these tips have been useful to you and will help you navigate the airport a little better next time. Have a great trip!