“Never get behind people traveling with infants. I've never seen a stroller collapse in less than 20 minutes. Old people are worse. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip on shoes. Gotta love 'em.”
--Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) to Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), going through airport security
I enjoyed the movie Up in the Air tremendously, not only because they were firing people one after another and doing it so well (insert evil laugh here), but also because George Clooney was such an expert business traveler. He had gotten it down to a science and breezed through airport hassles like a billionaire with a private jet. I told myself after watching the movie that when I grow up and have the money to travel often, I want to be like George. And thus, in preparation for that day, I began to not wear a belt so as not to trip off the metal detectors and bought two international travel adaptors to ensure that I could plug in my devices anywhere in the world. Since 2009, when George and Anna’s movie came out, I have amassed a wealth of travel tips, a veritable treasure trove of “survival lifestyle secrets” perfect for sharing with the gorgeous readers of the BusinessMirror unified entertainment and lifestyle section.
However, my wife, whom I will not identify by name as she is a very private person who does not have a Facebook account, warned me that the gorgeous readers of the BusinessMirror are probably more seasoned business travelers than I am. Therefore, instead of real tips on how to actually travel more efficiently, I will only write about a few things anyone can do to create the perception that he or she is an experienced traveler. This, I hope, is something even an infrequent flyer like me is qualified to hold forth on. Cabin crew, take-off stations please.
DO NOT EAT THE AIRPLANE FOOD. Nothing says “I’m the coolest, most seasoned business traveler” like refusing the tray of food that everybody else on the plane seems so desperate to get. Truth be told, the food is probably not good, unless you are in the fabulous first class section of a Middle Eastern airline. You are much better off eating at one of the airport restaurants before or after the flight. Plus, if you turn down the meal, while everyone else is trapped behind their trays, you can stand up easily and walk to the lavatory, assuming of course that the flight attendants are not blocking the aisle with their food carts. The one possible exception to this rule is on a long-haul business trip. If you’ll be on the plane for fourteen hours, you gotta eat. But even in this situation, I would suggest that you decline the regular meal and go for the midnight snack that few people avail of or even know about. As you fill the cabin space with the delicious aroma of your arroz caldo or bibimbap, your envious fellow passengers will be asking themselves, “Who’s the guy who’s getting the special meal?” and then answering themselves, “Oh, the cool, seasoned traveler.”
PLEASE DO NOT STAND UNTIL THE PLANE HAS COME TO A COMPLETE STOP AND THE SEATBELT SIGN HAS BEEN SWITCHED OFF. For my compatriots, telling them to follow this instruction might seem like a counter-intuitive tip. Many people tend to think that being the first to stand up, the first to open the overhead compartment, and the first in the aisle and out the door are indications of intimate knowledge of how airplanes and airports work. Not! Remember the Great Equalizer, also known as the baggage carousel. No matter how quickly you get off the plane and rush through the arrival corridors and slip past immigration, everyone ends up waiting for their bags. Truly seasoned travelers are aware of this and look with disdain at the poor people who are rushing to de-plane. What if I don’t have any checked-in baggage, you ask. Well, I was once on a flight where a few misguided souls stood while the seatbelt light was still on, and the flight attendant shouted, “SIT DOWN! DO YOU WANT TO DIE? DO YOU WANT TO DIE?” Who would want to be the object of this scolding? Uncool.
PRE-REGISTER ONLINE FOR YOUR HOTEL ROOM. This tip comes from my wife, whose name I dare not mention. Consequently, I don’t really know how this works. I imagine, though, that what it does is allow you to walk up to the hotel front desk, tell them your name, and immediately pick up the key to your perfect room; whereas, the newbie travelers have to line up and wait to fill out forms that will get them, fingers-crossed, into non-smoking rooms with the right size beds. I feel that an easier way to achieve the same effect, i.e., the perception of being well-traveled, is to pretend to know the porter who takes your bag when he pretends to know you. He says, “May I take your bag, sir.” You smile and reply, “It’s nice to be back, man.”
KEEP YOUR GOOD HUMOR AT ALL TIMES. Look, you know that NAIA served 36.68 million passengers in 2015 when its maximum capacity is only 35 million. (It was reported in the BusinessMirror, for God’s sake.) You know there’s a line you have to go through to get to some woman who will uselessly stamp your boarding pass before you can go on to the next step. You know your plane will be delayed. You know all those things because you are a seasoned traveler. Since you know all those things going in, why get irritated? Instead, take it all in stride, as if it’s all in a day’s work. Smile at the wailing brat in the next row. Help the slow, older woman carry her overstuffed bag. Roll your eyes conspiratorially when the purser looks at you after dealing with a difficult passenger. Above all, appear bored. You and George have seen it all before and will see it again tomorrow.
Doors may be opened. Welcome to wherever.