Categories
Behaviour Travel

5 tips that will help you fly economy class like a gentleman

I take about 20-30 flights per year. Most of them are shorter leasure trips within Europe. I always fly economy, both for the sake of the climate and for my wallet.

A lot of things can be said about economy, but very few things are pleasant. You sit in a tiny seet, cramped next to a stranger. Some of your fellow passangers are not used to flying, and are unaware of basic aviation etiquette.

But don’t despair, there are still a lot of things you can do in order to make life easier and the journey more tolerable for yourself and those around you.

1. Relax in the airport lounge before your flight

While flying is annoying, waiting for a flight can be even worse, but we’ve all seen them. While we’re tired and annoyed from camping out near the gate for an hour or more, with crying babies, loud talkers and commotion, just when boarding starts, they arrive.

Refreshed, relaxed and with an effortless stroll.

The lounge people. These ellusive people, who have been hiding out behind doors, clearly marked with signs saying “By invitation only”, until boarding.

The benefits of airport lounges

Airport lounges are basically calm, all-inclusive waiting areas for those who are willing to pay a little more extra for a lot more comfort. Actually, you don’t have to be willing to pay extra. You just need a basic understanding of the economics of airports (which is based on the fact that most people will spend a significant amount of money just from a couple of beers, a sandwitch and some bored shopping).

They usually have different seating arrangements; couches, arm chairs, cafe tables and workspaces, so that you can comfortably relax, have a meal or work.

They are usually equipped with a buffet ranging from light snacks to full, warm meals, a bar with alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, a private bathroom, often with showers.

All this – sometimes except for premium drinks – free of charge once you’re in.

How do you behave in an airport lounge?

Most airport lounges have dresscodes, but they are usually informal. As long as you don’t look like a bum, you’re good to go.

Behaviour is more important, though. Since the purpose of airport lounges are to create a calm environment for people to relax, don’t be loud and obnoxious.

Be courteous to everyone, be calm, talk quietly, turn the sound off on your devices, and go to the side if you’re on the phone, so basically, how any gentleman would behave anywhere.

So, how do you get in to the lounges?

While having a Business or First Class ticket is often the easiest way, it’s also the most expensive, and usually not necessary.

Believe it or not, even though almost all of them have signs saying by invitation only (or similar wordings), a lot of them do accept payment at the door without an invitation, especially during off hours.

A lot of airlines will also sell access to economy travellers as an up-sell item. Look in their app or website.

The cost of a single entrance ranges from $35-$50, and while this might seem expensive, a couple of beers and a sandwich will not cost much less.

If you travel more than once or twice per year, a lounge access card, such as Priority Pass, is the way to go. They range in price from $100 and up depending on if the number of visits are fixed or unlimited.

The best way to get them, however, is by getting a premium credit card. Personally, I have a Mastercard Black, that cost me roughly €200/year, and apart from the usual premium credit card benefits such as excellent travel insurance and conciërge service, it also includes an unlimited Priority Pass, that also allow me to bring guests for an extra fee of €25 or so.

2. Be prepared

Be prepared before check-in, security, passport checks and boarding.

Always keep your travel documents in the same place, easily accessible. Personally, I always keep my passport and (when applicable) paper boarding passes in my right inside pocket, but find the place that suits you.

Before security, look over the signs. Wether you need to take belt and shoes off, or if you need to take laptops and liquids out differ from airport to airport, but they always have signs or screens with the information.

On boarding, make sure you have everything you need during the flight in a small bag, so that you can quickly put your main carry-on in the overhead compartment without having to dig through it, toss the small bag by your feet and be seeted within a few seconds, so you don’t create a traffic jam.

And, which shouldn’t have to be said – ensure that you have your documents ready for inspection on boarding and in passport controls.

3. Obey the armrest etiquette

The armrest etiquette can be tricky, but the rules are simple.

On a 3-chair configuration, the middle seat has priority for both armrests. This is because both the isle- and window seats are more comfortable, and you have the possibility to stretch out towards the isle or window.

In all other configurations, you have priority to your right armrest, while the neighbour to your left has priority to the armrest by your left arm.

Easy, right?

4. Dress appropriately

It’s not comfortable to fly on a long haul-flight in a business suit. It’s also not very good for the suit. If you have a meeting where a suit is required after a long flight, take the suit in the carry on and switch in to it before descent.

While comfortable, also don’t wear your home pants, that you throw on for lazy Sunday mornings.

Instead, opt for loose (but well) fitting pants, jeans or chinos. Stretch can be your friend here, to retain comfort while not looking like you’re wearing a tent. Pair this with a polo shirt and make sure you have a sweater to put on if it gets cold, and you’re good to go.

Unless you have an odor problem, it is OK to remove your shoes.

Also, make sure you are newly showered and that your clothes are clean before you get on that 10 hour flight, and that you wear deo but take it easy on the cologne before boarding. Take advantage of the shower in the lounge if you have a layover and enough time.

5. Be courteous but also understanding

While it’s not pleasant to be stuck for hours within inches of strangers, common courtesy goes along way. Greet them, assist them if they need something. Chat if you want, but be mindful of their body language and stop if it seems like they want to be left alone.

If you opt for an alcoholic refreshment at the lounge before the flight, do it in moderation.

Also, be patient, understanding and helpful to people who are not aware of proper etiquette, who have disibilities, are overweight or are travelling with children.

Remember, as bad annoying as that crying baby might be for you, it’s ten times worse for the parents…

Bonus tip: Compensate

Yes, flying is bad for the climate. But flying also has a lot of benefits. It brings people and cultures together in a way that would be impossible without flying.

It helps you grow as a person, meet new people and explore the world. I am also an expat, so flying makes it possible for me to maintain the relationships with my family and friends back home.

I am not willing to fly less. But I am willing to pay for my “climate sins”, so I always compensate.

Compensating for flights are not expensive. It adds a couple of dollars or euros to intracontinental flights and perhaps ten dollars or euros for intercontinental flights. It might not be as good for the environment as staying home, but it’s a lot better than doing nothing. You should do it.

Enjoy your flight

Follow these simple rules, and your flight will be much more tolerable, both for you and those around you.

Enjoy your flight!

Categories
Behaviour Values

What does it mean to be a modern gentleman?

The word gentleman has a long history, and the meaning of the word has changed throughout the ages. Our society has changed greatly in the last 50 years, yet when some people think of a gentleman, the image that pops up is usually someone from the 19th, or the first half of the 20th century.

The liberation of women, the equality movement and not least the #metoo movement have brought a lot of good. It has pointed out and in some cases helped us get rid of some toxic male behaviours. It has given women more power and opportunities.

While the purpose of these movements have been to ensure that toxic masculine behaviour is no longer tolerated, it has failed to strengthen the positive aspects of masculinity.

Or, rather, it hasn’t failed. It was never it’s purpose. It’s up to us to define what it is being a man today. And especially what it means to be a modern gentleman.

History of the word gentleman

Originally, a gentleman was the lowest rank of the landed gentry of England, ranking below an esquire and above a yeoman; by definition, the rank of gentleman comprised the younger sons of the younger sons of peers, and the younger sons of a baronet, a knight, and an esquire, in perpetual succession.

As such, the connotation of the term gentleman captures the common denominator of gentility (and often a coat of arms); a right shared by the peerage and the gentry, the constituent classes of the British nobility.

Yeah, the English hierarchy of social statuses is confusing, I know. But it gets easier.

The word gentleman as an indicator of rank had already become of doubtful value before the great political and social changes of the 19th century gave the word a wider, more informal meaning. The change of meaning of the world can be seen through the successive editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica:

In the 5th edition (1815), “a gentleman is one, who without any title, bears a coat of arms, or whose ancestors have been freemen.”

In the 7th edition (1845) it still implies a definite social status: “All above the rank of yeomen.”

In the 8th edition (1856), this is still defined in similar words as in the 5th edition, but the writer adds, “By courtesy this title is generally accorded to all persons above the rank of common tradesmen when their manners are indicative of a certain amount of refinement and intelligence.”

And from the mid 19th century and onwards, gentlemen has more and more come to be related to behaviour than heritage, slowly morphing into how the word is used today.

A modern definition

A gentleman is a man who treats others, both men and women, regardless of their standing, in a respectful manner and not taking advantage, pushing or manipulatong others into doing things that are not in their best interest. In other words, it’s OK to push someone to for example seek medical care or pursuing their dreams, but not pushing or manipulating someone to do you favours.

This also has some implications, for instance that:

  • Don’t take your anger or frustrations out on others.
  • That you don’t discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, sexual preference or anything else.
  • That you listen to others more than you speak.
  • That you don’t brag, boast or belittle others.
  • That you dress and act in order to feel comfortable rather than to impress.
  • That, especially as a leader, you inspire and encourage rather than command and demand.
  • That you own up to your mistakes
  • That you forgive the mistakes of others
  • That you are awesome!
Categories
Behaviour Values

How a gentleman treats his inferiors

Unless you are self-sufficient and live by yourself on an island, you need to serve others and you need to be served by others. This is true no matter if you are a waiter, carpenter, blogger or king.

Most people tend to treat their superiors with respect. If not for other reasons, but because they depend on making at least a decent impression on their boss and clients to keep their jobs.

Unfortunately, this is not always true when the roles are reversed. Many people treat their inferiors – people they manage, suppliers, waitresses and store clerks very differently from how they treat their superiors.

This behaviour tells one very important thing about them. They don’t care about other people. At least not enough to treat them with basic human decency. They only care about themselves.

They only treat people well when they have something to gain. Not because it’s the right thing to do.

While it’s impossible to stay away from such people, you need to keep them at a distance and they can’t be trusted. They will only treat you well as long as they think that they have something to gain from it. As soon as they don’t, they will treat you the same way they threat that waitress when the food arrives late.

On the contrary, a gentleman treats everyone with respect because he believes that everyone deserve it.

A gentleman is one who treats his inferiors with the greatest courtesy, justice and consideration, and who exacts the same treatment from his superiors.

New York Daily News, 1902.

Remember that words such as superior, inferior or equal are social constructs, and that they only apply to certain situations or contexts. You might be someone’s boss, but that only means that you are suporior to him in your current proffessional relationship. It doesn’t say anything about who is more superior or inferior in other contexts or what your future relation might be.

With this in mind, it’s easy to realize that you shouldn’t take out your frustrations on a waitress because she mixed up your order any more than you should take out your frustrations on your boss if he tells you last minute that you to do something you don’t want to do.

Put yourself in their shoes

Let’s say you’re in a restaurant and something goes wrong with the order. You don’t know what went wrong. It might not have been the waitresses fault. Or it could have been, but you don’t know why she messed it up.

She could be incompetent. If so, it’s probably because she is new. Shw could also be having a bad day. Maybe she didn’t get enough sleep. She might have worked late last night and worked a second job in the morning.

You have no idea.

Either way, you will neither benefit her nor yourself by throwing a hissy-fit. You will only make a fool out of yourself.

It’s easy

Just calmly and discreetly let her know about the situation and how you want it handled. If it was her fault, she will know and she will feel bad about it enough as it is, and no matter what, you will both keep your dignity intact.

Do the same with the people you manage, your suppliers and everyone else around you.

As a gentleman, you should never – in any circumstance – raise your voice at an inferior. It’s destructive and it just shows that you are not man enough to handle the situation.