How Do You Deal With Inexperienced Travelers? Happy Memorial Day

Expect crowds such as this — or even worse — if you intend on traveling during the Memorial Day holiday in the United States. Photograph by FlyerTalk member CMK10. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by CMK10.

The Memorial Day Weekend has once again descended upon the United States, whose citizens mark the unofficial start of summer with cookouts, activities, lazy days relaxing under the sun and — to the detriment of frequent fliers — travel.

The fact that many people are off from work and children are out of school for a significant amount of time — some for the summer — fuels the desire to travel. Airports become crowded, flights become full, roads become clogged with traffic, and hotel properties become sold out…

…and those who are inexperienced with travel are taking to the airways — possibly with you.

Call it an honest lack of experience or call it ignorance — but to some FlyerTalk members, traveling with people who are inexperienced with travel in general and apparently do not know their boundaries can exacerbate the stress already inherent with travel.

For example, people who do not travel often usually do not understand the protocol that the overhead bins in the first class cabin are not for their use if they are assigned a seat in the economy class cabin. In this particular case, the “offender” claimed his bag and brought it to the rear of the aircraft after a flight attendant announced over the public address system of the aircraft the threat of removing luggage from the aircraft which did not belong in the first class cabin. If you see an inexperienced passenger placing their belongings in an overhead bin towards the front of the aircraft nowhere near their seat, do you confront them, report the incident to a flight attendant, or complacently keep quiet and let it go?

Getting through an airport security checkpoint can be half the battle, as inexperienced travelers may wait until they are at the scanner before they take out their bags of liquids, remove their shoes, place metal objects in a tray, and perform all of the other functions to be compliant with the rules imposed by the Transportation Security Administration. Do you wait patiently in line behind them until they are finally done, or do you go around and ahead of them — and if you do cut the line, do you practice proper etiquette or do you do it abruptly?

Is a crowded gate at the airport in Phoenix an appropriate place to perform yoga while awaiting your flight? FlyerTalk member cullen24 posted a video of a woman who is “half naked” while doing her yoga exercises near a corner of the gate area but quite conspicuous to the crowd of people waiting patiently for the announcement to board the aircraft. Do you report the woman to a gate agent — or do you simply look away thinking that it is no big deal?

On a flight to Orlando, FlyerTalk member houserulz77 dreaded when a family on their way to Walt Disney World was seated in the first class cabin near where he sat by a customer service agent due to irregular operations. It did not help that the mother — actually a grandmother — attempted to convince her seatmate to “join the Mile High Club” while a daughter of hers was “working” on houserulz77 as the kids were running up and down the aisle uncontrolled. What would you do if you were in a similar situation?

FlyerTalk member pinworm posted a manifesto of sorts on what inexperienced travelers should know, advising them — amongst other things — that they should spend the extra money to take a direct flight instead of turning a three-hour trip into a 28-hour trip with indirect flights; choose their seats via the Internet and print their boarding passes long before the day of travel; do not block the aisle aboard the airplane or treat flight attendants like waitresses. Do you agree or disagree with what pinworm posted?

Inexperienced travelers are not exclusive to air travel. It is more likely than not that inexperienced travelers will be the ones who are disturbing other guests in a hotel property by being noisy either in their hotel rooms or out in the hallways — whether they are partying, drunk, lascivious, or simply being immature — or by the mere act of allowing the doors to their rooms to slam shut. Do you confront them, report them to the front desk, or stay silent in the hopes that they will either eventually realize on their own accord what they are doing or tire out and go to sleep?

Despite all of the potential travails, FlyerTalk members have their traditions to celebrate Memorial Day — one of which is traveling specifically in anticipation of the increased possibility of securing a voluntary “bump” off of an airplane due to potentially oversold flights from all of the people expected to be traveling.

Another tradition is to embark on a “mileage run” to accelerate the qualification of earning elite status in a frequent flier loyalty program for the following year — and some of them can be a little different or rather crazy.

Did you know that seafood lovers take advantage of the opening of lobster shacks in Maine the week before Memorial Day? Connoisseurs head over to wine country in Oregon for the first big tasting weekend of the year. Skiing in Utah appeals to those who want their last taste of the winter sport for several months.

Whatever you decide to do and wherever you decide to go — if you decide to do anything during the Memorial Day weekend — expect crowds of people. Also expect the majority of those people to not be nearly as savvy, experienced or knowledgeable about travel as you. Despite the potential aggravation and irritation which may be caused by inexperienced travelers, patience and politeness are key in enduring what can seem like a marathon session of ignorance and inconsideration.

By the way, I am in no way ascribing responsibility and cause of the increased stresses of travel solely to inexperienced travelers. Amongst travelers who can be quite annoying and irritating is a very experienced group — although some members of this group are not experienced and have no clue — who proudly bellow “Do You Know Who I Am?” I intend to cover this particular group of travelers — known more familiarly by the acronym DYKWIA — in a future article here at The Gate.

First and foremost — or is that last but not least? — it is important to note that Memorial Day is a holiday of remembrance which honors those men and women who died while serving as part of the armed forces of the United States.

There are many, many more examples of how the actions of inexperienced travelers can impede upon the enjoyment of more experienced travelers — whether accidentally or purposely — too many to list here, in fact. What are some of your experiences with inexperienced travelers, and how did you deal with those experiences? Please be as specific and as detailed as possible, as I intend to post specific topics as separate future articles here at The Gate.

Thank you — and have a very happy Memorial Day if you celebrate it!

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Comments (Showing 14 of 14)

  • jtav559 at 11:09pm May 24, 2013

    My annual Memorial Day travels are to the Indy 500 with family – our little tradition. And whenever I am on the road, but especially this weekend, I am on the lookout for service members that are traveling. Extending a warm handshake and a sign of appreciation goes a long way when they have been a long way from home.

  • Josh Davis at 3:49am May 25, 2013

    Considering the general sentiments of the posts on this site, I do not say this lightly, but this is by far the most arrogant thing I have read of FT. The idea that an FT member has written a patronising manifesto for ‘inexperienced travelers’ absolutely reeks of snobbery. Oh, and god forbid that someone might be doing yoga in the corner!

    The answer to the question posed in the title of the article is ‘just get over it’.

  • tonypct at 6:40am May 25, 2013

    Sorry, Josh, I couldn’t disagree more with you. Before you do ANYTHING you are not familiar with, it just makes sense to do your homework, whether it’s security protocol or looking for a vacation spot. And yoga in the corner? If that’s not a scream for public recognition, I don’t know what is! 🙂

  • northfly at 8:01am May 25, 2013

    I’ve noticed that travel hacking attracts many socially awkward, type A personalities, so it’s no surprise they complain about everything on these forums.

  • Brian Cohen at 9:24am May 25, 2013

    Actually — although I agree with you, tonypctJosh Davis does have a point, in my opinion.
    While one perception of some of the members of FlyerTalk could be that of entitlement, arrogance and snobbery — and, perhaps, deservedly so at times — there is another perception which may not be as obvious: plentiful examples of the generous, kind and helpful nature of FlyerTalk members.
    I think that Josh Davis might have inspired me to write a future article about the good of FlyerTalk members. Thank you, Josh Davis

  • AbbyWalsh at 11:54am May 25, 2013

    Please be kind to inexperienced travelers. Assist them if you can, or at least don’t cause them more problems. And tell them about FT, so they can all be better informed.

    It would be nice if airlines had some info on their website FAQ’s about use of overhead bins, how to behave at baggage claim, the purpose and use of pre-boarding, etc. A new traveler who is looking for such info might look on the airline site to find info about baggage rules, so maybe they’d see this info if it was there. Not everyone knows about or stumbles across FT.

  • Kay_nyc at 2:19pm May 25, 2013

    I agree with Josh Davis – I hate these FT tirades about inexperienced travelers. I live in fear of bumping into one a displeased FTer at an airport. Travel’s expensive, lot’s of people travel infrequently, be nice.

  • Asiaflyguy at 4:10pm May 25, 2013

    Clearly the author of the article is a first class pr$ick and a snob. While I am not a novice traveler, I do not share the arrogance and snobbish attitude that the author does. The les frequent traveled pay for their seats, just as you do.

    Get over youself Brain Choen

  • chinatraderjmr at 4:32pm May 25, 2013

    In the scheme of things, being an experienced traveller may be nice, but it means NOTHING. I laugh at some of the foolish statements here on FT written usually by those BIG SHOTS who have never bought a full fare ticket, have nothing better to do with their lives then take a mileage run, and look down their nose at others with such disdain. My best friend is what they would call a “Kettle”. He flys maybe twice a year. He’s to busy being a heart surgeon for new borne babies, he’s to busy with his beautiful wife & beautiful daughters, he’s to busy with his fifth Avenue co-op & his South Hampton beach house. Yeah, I’m sure the mighty 1K’s & EXP’s get a good laugh at him trying to go thru security on one of his two vacations a year to St Moritz & Cannes (in full fare first class). I have tried to talk him into joining a mileage program but he refuses “What for” he asks, “I don’t have time to read more junk mail & when I.Need a ticket, ill buy one for the flight I want on the date I want” Yeah, we should all look down our noses at someone like this.

    **Obviously I made this person more perfect then he really is. But there are many people out there with a lot of money, amazing jobs, loving families, etc who could care a less about flying or FF programs

  • Brian Cohen at 5:41pm May 25, 2013

    I agree with you, chinatraderjmr — and, in fact, hopefully you noticed that I purposely never used the term kettle, as I believe that it is derogatory. I appreciate you sharing that with us.
    As for Asiaflyguy — well, I suppose if anyone ever wondered if I censor comments, you now have definitive proof that I do not — despite the fact that I wrote about being patient and polite towards the end of the article. In fact, I do not believe I could have made up a comment like that if I tried — let alone edited it.
    Thanks to all of you for your honest input. Please keep it coming.

  • pinks at 8:03pm May 25, 2013

    What kind of creep videos a woman doing stretches before a flight and how is wearing a tank top “half naked”? I have lower back pain and was stretching by the windows in a crowded waiting area at IST a few days ago, before a 10-hour flight. Better the ridicule than being bedridden for three days.

  • tonypct at 8:00am May 27, 2013

    I find it ironic that the same folks who criticized the OP for painting inexperienced flyers with a negative broad stroke, are also doing the very same things to experienced flyers. I am one of them and I am not a snob, nor am I arrogant and nor do I make fun of inexperienced flyers. As Abby said, I do attempt to help inexperienced flyers. I fully realize that by doing so, I help myself get through security lines faster.

    And as for the woman doing yoga, IMHO that is inappropriate and a desperate cry for attention. To me, that is no different from the guy yelling into his phone at the big deal he just closed, or the parents who let their kids run wild and scream about how good the kids are. Having said that, I would never record and of that that and show it on the net.

    To all, safe travels and have patience at the airports. It’ll make all of our lives a lot better.

  • MariaP at 9:12pm May 27, 2013

    I deal with inexperience travelers by offering helpful suggestions and even helping them with their bags if necessary. I am especially sympathetic and helpful to mothers traveling alone with small children. We were all inexperienced once and I was once struggling to carry a sleeping child, my carry on and a car seat to the jet way and then trying to figure out how to get the stroller open with one hand while not jostling the baby awake.

    I travel frequently with my 8 & 10 year old and have taught them to jump in and lend a hand when needed. I find that if you help out, getting through TSA, boarding and deplaning go a heckava lot smoother.

    BTW, when you see me approach TSA with three carry on bags and three personal items, a stroller and two kids, please do not assume that I am inexperienced or a problem. I have my kids trained and we each have an assignment and we usually fly through the checkpoint faster than most.

    Don’t assume that my children will be a bother if you happen to get stuck next to one of them. My daughter may need help opening her peanuts but she will not bother you if you are sleeping or otherwise engaged. She will sit quietly enjoying her iPod and her soda (yes, my children and I are often separated during the flight and I don’t ask anyone to switch seats with me).

  • Jwebber57 at 9:27pm May 27, 2013

    I generally don’t get annoyed but I do get annoyed when people don’t pay attention to the tsa agents at the screen checkpoints…..get off your phone take off your jewelry and move it along

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