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Is it just me, or does it seem that the number of passengers who pre-board has finally exceeded the number of regular passengers?

As the population of travelers rises with the temperature outdoors, it is more apparent every day that we have become a nation of “needy” people. Either that, or the airlines have greatly relaxed their definition of what it takes to board early.

Unfortunately, I think it is the former.

Perhaps it is my my over-active imagination, but it’s as if more and more passengers are hearing some fictional gate agent use the following words during the pre-boarding announcement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, before general boarding begins, we invite those of you who need a little extra time to board the aircraft. If you have any of the following, you qualify, so feel free to jump to the head of the line:

* Sprained finger.

* Hangover.

* Sunburn.

* “Children” who are under six feet tall.

* Toothache.

As my blood pressure rises upon seeing so many slackers take advantage of this opportunity, the imaginary gate agent continues the announcement with the following words of encouragement:

“That’s right folks, just run over those 80-year-olds who are using walkers and canes and are in your way. They’re part of the Greatest Generation and have too much pride to let a simple hip replacement qualify them for early boarding. All aboard!”

I am not belittling the gate agents — their jobs are tough enough without becoming Jetway police. I’m just saddened by the ever-growing number of people in the Entitlement Generation who have little or no self-restraint. Let’s all strive to be a little more other-centered during our travels.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two: Time and Patience.”

Leo Tolstoi, War and Peace

Doug Lipp is the author of Stuck in the Middle Seat.