Tuesday, June 01, 2004

How to Travel Like a Colombian
Just follow these easy steps to guarantee bedlam and ill will on YOUR next voyage!

1. Luggage...who needs it, when you can pack all of your belongings in cardboard boxes, sealed with plastic and what suspiciously looks like chewing gum? Since obviously boxes don't have handles, they're perfect for overhead compartments. Just pull and yank until the box falls out, and make sure everyone nearby gets a solid smack to the head in the process.

2. The Check-In Process Enter airport and come to immediate stop while you figure out where your airline counter is. If you block other people from entering, that's just fewer people to stand in line ahead of you at the check-in counter. Arrive at Aero Republica counter, henceforth known as GhettoAir. Stand in line, making sure you are close enough to the person in front of you that you may smell their perfume. Extra credit if their t-shirt tag is sticking out, and you are close enough to read the fabric contents. Check in, making sure your ID is at the very bottom of your bag. Engage in 15 minutes of small talk while the line grows exponentially behind you.

3. Taxes and Fees You will never, ever pay these when you check in, because that makes entirely too much sense. Instead, be sent to the airline’s other counter, where you will be charged a tax, a small portion of which you will see held in the clerk’s pocket for “safekeeping”.

4. Security If there are two lines, the waiting passengers should arrange themselves in four semi-symmetrical clumps. Claim as much space as possible with your luggage and stroller. Note: always travel with a stroller, whether or not you have children.

5. Boarding People with small children can board early, so why not pretend your two teenagers are still in diapers? If you present your boarding passes in a sufficiently hostile manner, the gate attendant will relent. As soon as you enter the plane, come to immediate stop and take a leisurely look at your seat assignment. Maybe you’ll sit there, maybe you won’t. Stand in the middle of the aisle and chat with your spouse about where to put your baggage. If you travel with cardboard boxes, make sure to force the nearest three people to help you. Then stand in the aisle some more.

6. In-flight Comportment and Etiquette Always use the seat in front of you as leverage when getting up to go to the bathroom, particularly if the passenger in front of you has long hair. They’ll appreciate the bald spot later. Also, while most of your fellow passengers on a redeye are sleeping, you should have your window open, as well as your mouth, because this is the perfect time for drawn-out conversations with strangers.

7. Airline food is always a rare form of lunchmeat with a side of mayo. Eat it as loudly as you can manage.

8. Disembarking should always be attempted two people at a time, with a healthy amount of pushing and shoving. Take as long as possible to remove your cardboard box from the overhead compartment. Then, when you get off the plane, stop right in the middle of the jetway to wait for your friends, never mind that your friends can’t get off the plane, because of the moron blocking the jetway.

9. Customs and Immigration Wait until you have reached the counter to fill out the necessary forms. Those two hundred people in line behind you aren’t nearly as important as you are. Also, let your small children play with the luggage carousel. If it starts up and they lose a finger or two, it will be a learning experience.

Troubleshooting Section: Bonus Points

Airline Has Seated Your Small Children in the Exit Row: Change your seats, as well as all of the seats of the people around you. Afterwards, make sure your children are still in a different row than you are. Supervision is a drag. Extra Credit: when the people who are assigned to the seats you have claimed arrive, tell them it’s their tough luck. Extra extra credit: refuse to enlist the help of the flight attendant and insist that the people whose seats you have taken stand for the duration of the voyage.

Airline Seats are Scratchy: This is due to the space-age, sub-polyester materials used by GhettoAir. Squirm in your seat as much as possible, and give the seat in front of you a few kicks in the process. The person ahead of you is busy rearranging the hair you pulled earlier when you got up to go to the bathroom. The kicks will probably go unnoticed.

Airline Counter Isn’t Open Yet: Claim a space in line with your luggage and cardboard boxes, insist that everyone around watch your belongings for you, and go for a walk. Return ten minutes after the counter opens and become extremely upset when the line has moved without you. Extra Credit: Who needs lines, anyway? Just walk in from the side and cut in front of everyone else. The attendants will be too busy braiding one another's hair to notice.

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