Commentary: Some new rules for airline travel

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With apologies to HBO comedian Bill Maher:

I've been flying a lot lately. L.A. to N.Y.C., N.Y.C. to Paris on OpenSkies, Paris to London, London to L.A. So I thought I'd vent a little about how I'd like my fellow passengers to behave on my next flight: New York to London and back next week on American's new 777ER. See if you agree.

New rule: Hey, you in the aisle seat, don't give me "that look" when I indicate that I need to get up from my window seat to use the lav (yeah, you, important business guy who drank two little bottles of cheap red wine on the 45-minute Paris Orly to Heathrow flight last week). I'm not doing this just for the fun of it. I don't expect you to smile, but please, no big dramatic sigh and eye roll.

New rule: If we're going to sit next to each other for six hours or longer, it's not OK to pretend I don't exist. I'm not even asking for a hello or a nod of the head when I plunk down my magazine, but pretending that I'm a flying ghost is just silly. Promise, I won't talk your ear off or even talk at all. Just acknowledge my existence with some eye contact and get up without a fuss if I'm in the window seat.

New rule: That armrest that's separating us? It's not yours, it's not mine, it's shared territory. Unless you're willing to pay me to monopolize it, let's be civil about it, shall we?

New rule: Flight time is not nail polish time. That stuff stinks and makes me nauseous. If you didn't have time to do it in your hotel room before heading for the airport, it can certainly wait until you're home or on the ground.

New rule: If you're sitting in seat 34B, and I'm in 12A, you don't get to put your carry-on in my overhead bin space on your way to the back.

New rule: Yeah, we all know that if you don't shut down your mobile phone during taxi and takeoff you probably won't crash the plane. But not doing so makes you look like a privileged, self-important and entitled bozo. So shut it.

New rule: If there was an emergency landing and evacuation, you wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do, because the last time you listened to the safety demo or read the safety briefing card you were 6 years old on your first flight and you had dreams of being a pilot one day. That's why when Capt. Sullenberger landed his US Airways Airbus on the Hudson River most people left the plane without their life vests. So even if you don't want to listen this time, stop yammering to your pal across the aisle and at least let me pay attention to it.

New rule: If you bring a small child on board, you don't get to pop a Xanax, fall asleep and leave the little tyke to his own devices. And no, the flight attendants are not baby sitters. Next time if you need to konk out, hire a nanny and bring her along.

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