Patience is something that has been lost to the annals of time. This is especially true when it comes to our United States sensibility of self-importance. It is doubly true when referring to airline travel. Patience is a virtue and we Americans don’t have any. Consider this photo for a moment.
I took that picture while sitting in the Orlando airport waiting for my flight back up to Dulles International Airport. It may not look too shocking but let me try to give it some context, especially to those who may not travel very often.
The boarding of an airplane is typically broken up into zones. Depending on the size of the plane you will have zones one through five. Of course, there are those extra special people that have paid out the nose to be part of the “Platinum Special Guest Pass Passengers” or “First Class Cabin Passengers” or “Latinum Plated Hyper Special Shit-Don’t-Stink Passengers”. They get to board even before the zone one level. I don’t know why they just aren’t called zone one and then everyone moves down a notch but I guess some people just need to feel special.
The staging area to board the plane has roped off lines for each of the boarding zones. The zones are created in an attempt to board everyone in an orderly and logical fashion. I prefer to have a seat on the aisle so I tend to be part of the last boarding zone, or zone five. It makes perfect sense because you wouldn’t want an aisle seat as part of zone two then the window seat of the same row as zone five. If you did, people would be stepping over top of everyone and it would take that much longer to board a plane.
By the time the plane is ready to board everyone knows their seat number and their boarding zone. It isn’t a secret. Just look down at your ticket and you will see a boarding zone and a seat. It isn’t going anywhere. That seat exists and you have purchased the right to sit in that seat.
And here is where the lack of patience comes into play. Before an airline crew member even announces that boarding has started lines will start to form in most, if not all, of the board zone areas. The moment that the crew announces boarding has started 99.9% of the passengers will line up in the allotted zones. Keep in mind, it wasn’t as if they were waiting ½ a mile away then walked over to wait in line. These passengers who were sitting comfortably all decided to lift their 65 lbs. backpacks up and trudge over to stand in a line.
The plane begins to load and the passengers from zone one walk right on in. Then zone two. Then zone three. Then there is a backup on the jet way because all of the passengers are stowing luggage and getting settled in their seats. It is at this point that the folks standing in the zone five line start to get bitchy. “Why aren’t we moving?” “What is taking so long?” “Why are you making us stand here?” “We’ve been waiting in line for 30 minutes, let's go!”
Why don’t you people return to your seats and wait comfortably? That is what I was doing when I took the picture. I had my feet propped up sipping on a Diet Mountain Dew and flipping through a magazine. There is no reason for you to bitch and moan about standing in line when there is no reason for you to be standing in line. You are in the last zone. Take a load off. All you are doing is making yourself miserable.
It’s not as if it is a secret that you will be the last zone to board. It isn’t a lottery. The crew member doesn’t come out and say, “by random luck zone five will be boarding first today, congratulations!” You know it is going to take time and patience for the 150 passengers before you to find their way to their seat in our flying metal sausage. Standing in a line waiting for them doesn’t make any logical sense when you have a reserved seat waiting for you. It isn’t first come, first serve. You aren’t trying to find the best seat at the McDonald’s so you can get a good view of the counter to keep an eye on that 19-year-old employee you think is hot (wait, who said that?).
The last thing anyone needs is more stress when preparing to board an airplane. The passengers and crew are collectively, and voluntarily, piling into a giant metal dildo to defy the laws of gravity. Literally tons of steel and people will be floating on air for several hours in defiance of physics. The pilots and crew will literally be performing a miracle while still having the presence of mind to serve you a free bag of pretzels and a Coca Cola.
So the next time you fly, just sit and wait until it is your time to board. Don’t get frustrated by standing up and waiting while the “better” people board in front of you. You have a ticket with your assigned seat listed and it isn’t going anywhere. Sit back, relax, have a bag of peanut M&Ms, and be patient.
Patience is a virtue.