Every culture has its ways to communicate non-verbally. The wrong sign can get the innocent traveler into big fist-shaking trouble. Please share any insights you've picked up in your travels.
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A trip to remember
At Frankfurt airport 3 years ago I was connecting to Israel and made friends on my United Flight with this Executive who happens to work for Lufthansa at SFO. We were talking about traveling and Rick Steves. When I went to get a coffee at the SFO airport before my flight he was on the phone with Lufthansa/United and was able to get me a Business Class seat on all of my flights plus entrance into the lounge.
He was telling me how lonely he was being away from his wife and children for many years. In return for keeping him company he upgraded me and got me into the lounges. The gesture was unexpected as I was on a Consolidator Fare Ticket.
So it pays to talk with your fellow passengers. I learned so much about the German culture and he even treated me to a Beer at the Beergarten at Frankfurt Airport. What a nice guy(:
CA USA 05/20/2010
I got a lot of smiles in Germany recently when I added a "Buddhist Bow" (hands clasped prayer like in front of your face, nodding your head and hands at the same time) to any situation that needed extra thanks. Put in with a "Vielen, vielen Dank!" was the best way I found to non-verbally communicate that I thought they went out of their way to be super nice!
Tallahassee, FL USA 05/18/2010