Despite the marvels of modern flight, being stuck in a tube cruising through the lower stratosphere means we often have to put up with the less-than-tolerable habits of other passengers. Even though it’s not always their fault (screaming babies), 12 hours without a reprieve can be a lot to handle, and make the best people think bad thoughts. Let’s take a look at some of the worst offenders.
If you’re fortunate enough to sit next to a Nobel laureate who’s up for a lengthy and informative chat, congratulations. If, on the other hand, you’ve had a long day and you just want to sleep on your overnight flight from London to Los Angeles, but the guy or gal by your side buzzing from four Red Bulls wants to talk your ear off for hours on end, you’re in for a very long and painful flight.
It doesn’t matter if you sitting next to a 7-foot tall offensive lineman, or just someone who’s spent a little too much time at the ice cream parlor. Another person’s girth spilling over onto your seat is never fun. You won’t be able to find a good place to rest your elbows, and if you’re perched next to a window, your face might get smeared up against the glass.
It’s not their fault. The changes in air pressure, the pain in their ears and the general stress of flying take their toll. You might have an ocean of sympathy when a baby or small child starts screaming at the top of his or her lungs. Your compassion might even extend past the first hour of banshee-like shrieks, but come hour four, five and six, you’ll be looking for a parachute and an exit — in order to preserve your sanity.
The little rascal sitting behind you kicks your chair repeatedly. When you turn around to see who’s inflicting this brand of petty torture, the child flashes you an innocent looking (but false) smile. The parent is oblivious too, or simply doesn’t care about the harassment. Again, you might be looking for a parachute and a way out — but this time the parachute isn’t for you.
The Full Tilt Recliner
Yes, your chair might go all the way back, but that doesn’t mean the moment the cabin crew says it’s all right, you should knock your seat back into the lap of the person sitting behind you. Maybe just tilt it back half the distance, and leave a little breathing room for a fellow passenger who doesn’t want to stare at the top of your head all the way to Bangkok.
If you have to travel sick, it would be nice if the inflight crew let you wear a motorcycle helmet over your head for the duration of the trip. Snotty noses and rapid-fire sneezes on airplanes spread contagion like wildfire. It’s never a pleasant sensation when you realize the person sitting next to you is dripping, or atomizing green nostril goo into a mist and shooting it directly onto your shoulder.
About to Die
Flying can be a frightening thing. While empathy toward a fearful air traveler is a commendable trait, patience can wear a little thin when the hysterical passenger crumpled up in the seat next to yours starts digging his or her fingers into your arm, bruising your muscles and sobbing violently while telling everyone on the plane they’re all about to die because, “Man was never meant to fly.”
The bar is open and the boozehound in your aisle keeps slugging down tiny bottles of Jack Daniels. An airplane drunk combines the worst characteristics of a variety of passengers all into one. Too much information is shared by a space invading, bad smelling individual who tells you a life story you’d rather not hear, and then admits alcohol is the only method available for coping with life in general, and a debilitating fear of flying.
If a man, or a woman, is looking for love in the air, and you have the bad luck of being seated next to this person — assuming you’re not also looking for some romance — you’ll have to endure the unwanted advances of this would be Casanova until the plane lands. You could ask a flight attendant for another seat, but if the plane is packed, be prepared to beat down the libido of someone who literally has a captive audience.
People with weak or tiny blabbers should always opt for an aisle seat. If you’re flying in coach, and the gal or fella next to you keeps crossing over your lap to use the head, it can be hard to read your book, watch a movie, or get any rest. While you shouldn’t shout out, “Adult diapers were invented for a reason,” a healthy dose of the “evil eye” might be in order after your fellow traveler’s eight or ninth trip to the bathroom. Or you could just switch seats.