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Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009


Five rules of the aisle seat when you fly

Today I thought I would share with you my Frequent Flier Anti-Jet Lag formula. And it doesn't involve swallowing frequent flier miles to regain world time zones internally. My technique is simple: drink a few beers and sleep on the airplane for about six hours.

There is one requirement for this method to work, however. You must have secured an aisle seat.

This is because the aisle seat allows you to get up as many times as you want to go to the head, (now you know why it's called the "head," because you're always heading there) in turn allowing you to drink more beer. As a result, I feel strongly that aisle seats should be reserved for beer drinkers. The only other type of person who should take the aisle seat, and I mean the only other, is someone with long legs who needs to stretch out.

But aisle seat paradise comes with responsibilities. Just as people sitting at the emergency exit seats have to agree to being willing and able to take on certain responsibilities, those sitting in aisle seats should be willing and able to take on the responsibility to take care of their "row mates." If you are not sympathetic to your row mates, they may become disgruntled (Now you know why them call them rows).

So here are some guidelines for aisle seaters:

Aisle Seat Rule No. 1: You will go to the toilet frequently, presenting ample opportunity for your row mates to get up without having to disturb you.

I recently sat next to an aisle seat person who, during the entire 13-hour flight, never got up once. Not even to use the head. I considered striking up a conversation with her about Deep Vein Thrombosis, but she had her headphones on and was engrossed in the in-flight movie. With such a sedentary aisle seat person, drinking beer was out of the question, seriously challenging my Guaranteed Frequent Flier Anti-Jet Lag formula.

Aisle Seat Rule No. 2: You will stand up to let people out of your row, rather than making them climb over you.

Twice, I climbed over this listless aisle seat person (who, not being a beer drinker nor a long-legged person, shouldn't have even been there) just to go to the toilet. As I crawled back (this was a round trip to the toilet after all) I heard an "Oh, Sorry." She probably just meant she was sorry for being in my way, but I took it as an apology for having taken the aisle seat without fulfilling any of her obligations.

Do you really need to drink beer? You ask me. Of course I do — it's free! Perhaps this is a hang-over, so to speak, from my college days, but I still can't turn down free beer. Besides, my vacation starts when I get on that plane.

But most importantly, drinking beer allows me to sleep just enough on the plane to avoid jet lag. And sleep blissfully, mind you, not the irritated kind of jerky sleep you get when you nod off and are jolted awake every time your head drops.

Aisle Seat Rule No. 3: You will give the middle seat person, poor sod, the right to BOTH armrests.

The aisle seat is freedom: to get up anytime you want, to stretch your legs, to go get a glass of water. You've already got one armrest all to yourself, and so does the window seat person. So have sympathy for the guy in the middle who has no privacy (neighbors on both sides) and nothing to lean on to sleep either. He should not have to share his armrest with you boozing, long-legged, aisle seaters.

Aisle Seat Rule No. 4: You will pass drinks down the row (just like at a baseball stadium) before taking one yourself.

This is just courtesy. It also ensures your row mates don't get overlooked by flighty flight attendants cruising through the cabin at breakneck speed. At least on the aisle, you can more easily flag them down.

Aisle Seat Rule No. 5: You will not glance sideways with malice at your row mates because one of them has their reading light on while you're trying to sleep.

You should have had the foresight to bring an eye mask. Not that I have such foresight either, but luckily, every time I leave for an international flight, my friend Junko presents me with a slew of in-flight luxuries including snacks, cooling "refresh sheets" to help swollen feet, and eye masks. If you don't happen to have a friend like Junko, please get one. I can even give you her phone number if you like. Do make sure she includes the Jalapeno-flavored pretzel snacks that are so hot, they only harmonize with beer.

Following these five simple rules should bring harmony to rows as well as promote a Frequent Flier Anti-Jet Lag formula.

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