1. Never strive to be one of the first to go anywhere, never even strive to be in the place in a queue that might seem to be in line with the natural flow of things. You will inevitably be shoved or ignored, sidled and stepped in front of or on, and if you’re like me, you’ll end up thinking not-so-nice things about the people around you and possibly letting these things slip out verbally. The key is to be the last one, anywhere, then no one will be stepping in front of you in the queue, or shoving past you while you’re attempting to place your one small bag in the over-head compartment. Once I surrendered myself to this idea, air travel has been a much more pleasant experience for me and my fellow passengers.
2. Always be polite to airport and airline employees while traveling*. They have the power to either make your life a living hell or make your trip as painless as possible. Use phrases like “Hello, how are you today?” (even better if you can manage to do it in local language) “Please” “Thank you” “Would it be possible to…?” and they’ll get you a long way.
3. Assume that your fellow travelers are the world’s most impolite, socially retarded, self-serving group of people in the world, until proven otherwise. Act accordingly. Of course this isn’t always true and when proven wrong about this, one can meet some very interesting people but making these assumptions at the start can save disappointment in human kind later in your travel.
4. The Addis airport has fresh squeezed orange juice and (of course) coffee that might very well make it worthwhile to pay extra or even come out of one’s way to fly Ethiopian Airways
5. Bring a book. Everywhere.
6. The baristas at Dormann’s in the Nairobi airport will let you jump behind the counter and make a latte for a friend (if you have some experience, they aren’t too busy and they accept your challenge of a cappuccino-off)
7. When using the buses that take passengers from the terminal to the airplane in many airports (sometimes all of 20 feet in the case of the airport in Lome), recall tip number 3 when shoving past the 30 people who are the first to get on the bus, yet insist on standing right next to the door.
8. Strike up a conversation with someone who doesn’t seem to be one of those people mentioned in tip number 3. Good conversation can make a long trip short.
* I am sure to indicate that this rule is for during travel as if you have received unsatisfactory service from an airline, Kenya Airways for example, maybe they rerouted your colleague to the other side of the continent without permission, compensation and barely a notification. With something like this, feel free to release a wrath the likes of which have never even been felt, even at the KQ customer service counter in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.