In this day and age of long lines checking in and the delay through airport security, did you ever get that awkward feeling that we are all cattle being prodded to move along? I think the military calls it a “bag drag.” You pick up your bag, step forward one pace, put down your bag; pick up your bag, move forward one pace, put down your bag. So I would like to suggest my ten conversation starters at the airport or on an airplane.
Starter One: “Excuse me, I’ll bet you’re glad you only brought the one bag?” This is a good comment about traveling light. It’s at this point that the person may respond that he’s a seasoned traveler or maybe wasn’t sure of the carry-on limits. Starter One is for those occasions of waiting in line to pass the time and relieve tension. Most people are already nervous about catching their flight on-time and anxious to keep moving.
Starter Two: “Can you believe it cost me 8 dollars for this bottle of water?” This line works really good at the terminal gate waiting for the plane. If anything, the person you say it to might feel better after discarding his 2 dollar sports bottle back at the security checkpoint.
Starter Three: “Do you travel with handcuffs and an escort often?” Be very careful with this line. You may not always get the response you’d like. It doesn’t necessarily pass as a conversation starter but boy does it get everyone’s attention.
Starter Four: “Are all those yours?” This was an actual line I used recently in the customs line coming back from Mexico. This lady and her husband had 4 children and I think the oldest was about eight. They had about 7 bags of luggage, two strollers, three pillows, a comforter, toys, and I didn’t look too close but I think there was a little puppy in the diaper bag.
Starter Five: “I wish I had worn sandals instead.” I used this Starter while going through the security checkpoint. Again, caution is the keyword. Although this Starter Five is to be directed to others in line, security folks are thoroughly trained not to have a sense of humor. Took me about five minutes to untie the shoelaces of my combat boots and put them into the little Tupperware box to be X-rayed. I don’t think this is what Henry Ford had in mind when he invented (did he?) the conveyor belt. Add another five minutes to put my boots back on, while standing on one leg. Why they didn’t have chairs available to sit on, I don’t know.
Starter Six: “Who’s winning the game?” While on a layover in Denver (home of Colorado Rockies baseball), the playoff game between the Rockies and Phillies was on the lounge TV. The person I chatted to was from Denver. We talked baseball for about 35 minutes while waiting for our flight. It seems TV is always a good source for starting conversations.
Starter Seven: Are you enjoying that book?” I love to read and am fascinated to see what others are reading. As I sit in the waiting area or perhaps on the plane I don’t mind asking others what they’re reading. I think others like to talk about what they read and share their thoughts. Although reading to me is a personal and solo event, it can be a great conversation starter. It’s a shame more spouses don’t share what they’re reading. It says a lot about people and their interests.
Starter Eight: “Do your children travel well?” This non-threatening conversation starter is to be used with fellow passengers before the flight begins. It’s important to establish if the kid is going to cry for the next three hours or not. At this point it may be an opportunity to contact the flight attendant and respectfully request a seat away from the baby, perhaps in the cargo hold.
Starter Nine: “Sorry to interrupt but I think 27 down is Clancy.” This was the beginning of a conversation with a fellow passenger on a midnight flight from Salt Lake City to Philadelphia. The first hour and a half he didn’t say a word while reading a book or doing his crossword puzzle. I was tired and trying to sleep but he had on his overhead light and Direct TV monitor. So I kept peeking with my left eye peripheral as he progressed on his crossword. We talked about all kinds of stuff for the next 4 hours and I never did sleep. But he kept skipping over 27 Down – Red October author.
Starter Ten: “Hi, my name is Bob. I sell insurance”. Okay, I threw in a curve for Number Ten. This is actually a conversation Stopper. If you’re the type of person who wants to be left alone, read a book, do a crossword, or sleep, this line is for you. Once you announce those 3 words “I sell insurance”, you’ll have peace and quiet the rest of the flight because that fellow next to you will be asking for a seat in the cargo hold, or better yet, next to a crying baby.
I hope some of you fellow travelers can appreciate these 10 tips. Obviously, some I wrote for fun but others may help in certain situations. Either way, traveling via airline should be fun and enjoyable. I figure 4 hours on a plane beats 23 hours by car. Bon voyage and travel safe!