Your New Year’s travel resolution? Don’t be a jerk

Mmaxer/Shutterstock
Mmaxer/Shutterstock
Here’s a New Year’s resolution we can probably all agree on: Don’t be a jerk when you’re on the road.

There’s something about travel — whether you’re flying, driving or sailing — that brings out the jerk in all of us. Like the guy in seat 26B just in front of me right now on a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, who is probably a nice guy on the ground. But put him on a plane, and shortly after takeoff, he jams his seat into my knees without so much as an apology.

Jerk.

It’s the flight attendant who kicked me out of the row of empty seats in the back of the plane, after I moved there to avoid the wedge. He did it with a stern, “You’re gonna have to get out of this seat, now. These are blocked for the crew.” It wasn’t the passive-aggressive way he phrased it as much as it was the tone — he might as well have been saying, “It’s a federal offense to interfere with the flight crew.

Jerk.

It’s the fellow passenger who almost ran over me as I was disembarking, swearing under her breath because I wasn’t moving fast enough. I know I wasn’t moving fast enough. I had to help my three kids off the plane and lift their luggage out of the overhead compartments.

It doesn’t make any difference how well you’re treated or how much you’re abused. In the end, we all turn into jerks.

I’ve spoken with psychologists about this phenomenon, and they tell me that there’s something about travel that just makes us insufferable. It is, they speculate, the fact that when we go somewhere, we are away from the social restraints that make us behave — our friends, family and community. It could also be the fact that we know we’ll never see the people we meet again. So we treat them like props in a movie, as if they are not real.

But they are. I can hardly read my computer screen now because the jerk in 26B had to lean all the way back and because the idiots who installed these seats only gave me 31 inches of seat pitch.

I beg to differ with the experts. I don’t think we turn into boorish imbeciles just because we’re away from home, although that may be a contributing factor. I think it’s cause and effect, and on two levels. It’s travel companies slowly removing many of the services and amenities that made travel tolerable, on the one hand. I offer an almost daily account of these indignities on my consumer advocacy blog.

It’s a little bit like taking a well-behaved dog, locking him in a cage, depriving him of food and taunting him.

He’ll turn mean, eventually.

But how does that explain the childish behavior of the entitled elites — you know, the ones who lurk on sites like Flyertalk or one of the mileage blogs littered with scammy affiliate links? Opposite problem there: Like the children of dictators, these super-platinum elites are given everything that the travel companies took away from us, the longsuffering passengers in the back of the aircraft.

While we have no room to move in steerage, they complain when their lie-flat sleeper seat doesn’t recline all the way. They’re told, “You’re more special than everyone else, you should expect the world.” The result is a cabin full of spoiled babies who fire off complaint letters to their airline when the Chardonnay isn’t chilled to the right temperature.

They believe they are God’s gift to travel, but they are not. They are jerks.

You don’t have to be. If you’re lucky enough to sit in a first-class seat, be grateful. Thank your employer, who allowed you to collect enough miles for the upgrade. Thank the flight attendant who has to put up with the other whiners in the forward cabin. Thank a member of the armed services who fought so you could live in a free country where you can afford to buy that upgrade.

Take nothing for granted, because when you stop traveling for business, your elite status will expire and so will your miles, and then you will email me for help getting your status restored.

If you’re sitting in the bleacher seats or staying in a standard room, you don’t have to behave like a jerk, either. Don’t take it out on your fellow passengers and guests. It’s not their fault that you’re being tortured. Instead, stand up and let the travel company know you won’t be treated like cattle. Fly on airlines and stay in hotels that treat you like a person.

They do exist.

You have it in you to end the incivility that’s made travel a ridiculously bad experience. Do something. Now.

Are travelers jerks?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

This is my final “That’s Ridiculous” column. Next Tuesday, I’ll be back with an all-new column on Tuesday. Happy New Year!

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend