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The problem with flying is there are so many potential hazards, too many to avoid and too many to compensate for.
I can walk down the street and pass 200 people and maybe one or two will annoy me somehow. But stick me on a plane and all of a sudden every inconsiderate, annoying person in the state has decided to fly at the same time I have and the perils are endless. You need to attend the Macgyver school of survival if you’re going to stand a chance of getting out of a long haul flight alive.
On a recent flight home the lady to my right decided to take a nap. After a few minutes she was comatose and her bouffant, fluffy hair started to inch closer and closer toward my face. For over an hour she lolled in and out of sleep on my shoulder, her hair crawling all over my skin, making my inner germaphobe cringe.
The problem was, I’m too polite to wake her. This begs the question, how many considerate flyers are out there? Because you can guarantee when I’m trying to take a nap the passenger next to me has an unreasonably tiny bladder and needs to pee every five minutes or laugh loudly at Mr Bean re-runs.
Planes make good people go bad, there are stand up arguments about leg room, tray tables and knocked seats. If you’re in the middle seat of plane then you need to sit down and stake your claim on some armrest space before world war III erupts in aisle 12.
I was lucky enough to land the middle seat on a 13 hour, long-haul flight next to a woman who must have recently escaped from an asylum. Once in the air she closed the window shade, wore her blanket like a cloak and curled up in her seat with the tray table down, effectively locking her in. I tried to sleep through her Phantom of the Opera routine but she kept huffing and puffing and after 6 hours she turned to abuse me for having my reading light on. I kindly pointed out that it was, in fact, her own light that was on and not mine but she wasn’t buying it, so the flight attendant was dragged into it and I moved seats, after ensuring my reading light was left on.
There are many aspects of plane etiquette, most of which are ignored by your average passenger. I subscribe to a ‘do unto others’ philosophy and never recline my seat in the hopes the person in front will do the same – so far it isn’t paying off.
Another courtesy commonly overlooked is the need to brush your teeth and wear deodorant. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to resort to breathing through my mouth like Darth Vader so I don’t succumb to the foul gas seeping from the face of the person next to me.
Sometimes things get taken to the extreme. Some years ago I arrived in Sydney and was horrified to see two 50-year-old men jumping up on seats having an all in brawl over the fasten seatbelt sign, with a frantic gay flight attendant sandwiched in between them somewhere. It was awesome.
It is beyond me how we can send people into space, transplant limbs and develop a vaccine for cervical cancer but the airplane boffins can’t design a seating plan that doesn’t result in your face being jammed up against the tiny LED screen every time a chair is reclined.
Until very recently I had never experienced the sheer luxury of first class, mainly because I’m poor. Having oversold a seven hour flight from Iceland to New York the airline upgraded us to first class. I don’t know if you’ve been up there before, but it’s magical.
There is a free gift waiting for you and the seats are huge with around six different drink holders in them, which you’ll need for all the free booze they ply you with. For seven perfect hours we ate hors d’oeuvres, a three course meal, drank French Champagne & watched movies. It was better than my actual living room and best of all not an annoying passenger in sight! Sadly it will be a one time only event, but rest assured we lived like Kings up there for the full seven hours.
Flying is hard enough as it is and it’s only a matter of time before someone snaps off a tray table and goes postal on some unruly children or foul breathed beast. But it won’t be me, oh no, I’ll be sitting there quietly, seething, plotting a way to strangle the offender with a seatbelt all the while smiling politely, enjoying my pretzels.