I don't know about you, but I think airplane travel has become a bit of a testy experience these days. The amazing thing about the decline of the flying experience is that it is neither the fault of the airlines nor of the federal government. OK, it's partially their fault, but the biggest problem lies with our fellow passengers, and you know the people I'm referring to.

These are folks who wait until they get to the head of the security line before they start fishing around for their boarding passes and IDs. They're the same people who pull up to a coin basket on the toll road before they start to look for change. I call them bad passengers, or BP for short.

The BP is clueless at the X-ray and metal detector. They never know what to place in the X-ray machine, so let me answer all of their questions right now. Yes, your shoes have to come off. Yes, you have to take your jacket off. Yes, you have to take your laptop out of the case. No, you don't have to put your folding money through the X-ray machine, but if you do, the security officials can declare it a tip.

Once they get to the gate, the BPs continue their mayhem when they get on the plane. Carry-on bags are supposed to be… carried on, but some idiots insist on dragging onboard a duffle bag that's large enough for a cadaver. Then they wrestle their sacks into the overhead compartment and consume all available space. Sometimes BPs don't even use the overhead space by their seats but selfishly take the overhead space near the front of the plane so they don't have to drag their load down the aisle. I think that if anybody puts their luggage in your overhead space, you have the right to look through their stuff during the flight and help yourself to whatever you want.

Since the airlines no longer serve meals in coach class, they allow passengers to bring their own food on board. This is all well and good, but if you are going to pack in your own food, you should make it as nonoffensive as possible for the rest of us. All I ever pack for the trip is a cookie. If I can't go for four hours without eating more than a cookie, I have a problem. However, I've been seated next to BPs who pulled garlic and Limburger sandwiches out of their carry-ons. One positive thing is that the aromatic sandwich covered up the stench from the other passenger who had removed his shoes.

After the plane lands, the BP will haunt you at the baggage claim. I always wait for my luggage by the beginning of the conveyor belt. I like to leave approximately 18 inches between my body and the moving conveyor belt, ample room for safety's sake and more than ample space to declare the occupancy rights to the area immediately in front of my body. In other words, I am first in line at the conveyor belt, but that is a fact easily overlooked by the BP. He or she will spot his or her suitcase on the belt and will dive right in front of me to retrieve it, thus jostling me out of the way and fracturing my cookie. Then, to add insult to injury, the BP discovers that he has retrieved the wrong valise and dives in front of me again to replace it. These people are the reason the rest of us are not allowed to travel with Mace.

I think those among us who are good passengers should be armed with a roll of stickers that say “BP” that we can slap on the deserving so everybody else can steer clear of them. They are easy to find. They're always seated right next to me.




Dale Irvin is a professional summarizer who has added a new dimension to many financial and insurance meetings. For booking information, call Ruth Levine at Speak Inc. (858) 457-9880.