Plane People

We arrived in Canada yesterday, flying Sydney-Auckland-Vancouver with Air New Zealand. Even with 2 kids in tow, 15 hours on a plane gives you a lot of mental blog-writing time. I was pondering how flying has changed since my first long-haul flight at the tender age of 12, good old QF002 LHR-SYD. It seemed to go on FOREVER and back then, waiting for “the movie” to be shown, hoping it’d be something decent and then getting a wry neck in the process of trying to watch it from behind the 6ft 6 giant in the seat in front of you was about the highlight of the flight. The next most exciting moments were having the meals delivered and waiting to see (between movies) how far the plane had progressed on the world map. I do recall, making the trip back again 4 years later, we flew Virgin Atlantic for one leg (we went the cheaper route via the US) and their newest planes had individual entertainment systems which was an absolute innovation then- I got to watch Single White Female which was actually rated 18+ and I was only 16… I felt like it was such a big deal!

Back then, being unable to sleep on a flight seemed like a real hardship, then once I started working I remember being so proud of myself as a shift worker for being able to get over jet lag within 24 hours (night shift is pretty good practice for that actually). Now, I don’t expect to sleep at all and to be honest I don’t really care that much, I’m just so desperate for Master and Miss L to be settled (ideally asleep!)

Anyway, more and more often now that I’m turning into a grumpy old woman, when I fly I am astounded at how stupid people can be. Sometimes I laugh at them, other times they just really get on my nerves. And so I’ve compiled a list of the 5 most irritating people to fly with:

The bogan– we are travel snobs, I readily admit it. We’re lucky enough to be able to travel fairly often and (admittedly entirely due to work perks), since we’ve known each other, either Mr L or myself has been a Gold Frequent Flyer and/or lounge member. (The benefits of lounge membership become all the more evident when travelling with children, but that’s another post). However, occasionally we choose an itinerary where we are unfortunate enough to be unable to justify paying extra or going to great lengths to fly with one of our preferred airlines and we “choose” to fly with the hoi polloi. The bogan traveller abounds on these trips and is easily recognisable by:

  • their destination- often Bali- no offence to any non-bogans who go there, or Balinese people (in fact, you have my sympathies for having to put up with the bogan Australian tourist invading your country)
  • their suitcases- usually gaudy, voluminous and quite often matching- not just matching bags but, as was the case with one leopard-print-clad traveller we queued up behind at check-in once,  clothes to match the suitcases: leopard-print leggings, scarf AND luggage!
  • their Bintang singlet-tops
  • their tattoos

The carry-on muppet– the last flight I took (prior to yesterday’s) was Sydney-Melbourne (well, technically the last flight was the return flight Melbourne-Sydney but that’d be splitting hairs). Ok, I was only going for the day so perhaps my intolerance of people with inappropriate carry-on luggage was exacerbated by the fact that I had none. But after watching 3 vertically challenged women struggling to put their 3 obviously oversized bags in the overhead lockers, it occurred to me that carry-on luggage should not be size or weight-restricted, it should be time-limited. You get 30 seconds to put it in the locker. If it takes you longer than that, you check it in. This thereby eliminates bags which are too heavy or too large but also discriminates against people who are too short to get it up there themselves. However, short people are compensated by the fact that they get sufficient leg-room once they actually sit down, so I have no sympathy for them, really.

The seat dyslexic– there’s always one… person in the wrong seat, that is. Every time I fly, someone near me is asked to get up and move by the person who has actually been allocated the seat in which the dyslexic has settled themselves. The offender always look puzzled and perplexed, but rarely embarrassed. I can forgive people for occasionally getting the wrong row: sometimes the number isn’t directly over the seat, it’s slightly in front or behind and coupled with the parallax error generated by reading it at an angle on approach… ok, maybe… But the whole window-aisle fiasco? Maybe some people fly so infrequently they don’t realise A is always window. But there’s a little diagram above every row to explain it! Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on their part- like the lady I once had to ask to move because she was in my seat and she said “Oh but I requested an aisle seat, I always do!” Yeah well sorry, “request” doesn’t necessarily mean “get”, so move!

The baggage carousel hogs– these people wait for their luggage right up against the carousel. They drive me crazy. The bags come out in a steady stream. They do a circuit which takes between 3 & 5 mins, I’d say. Then they come round again if they aren’t picked up the first time, so it’s not like you’re going to lose your bag forever if you don’t grab it in the first 2 seconds after it comes through. These people usually have a trolley right beside them (preventing even more people from accessing the carousel) and frequently have at least 1 smallish child with them (not so small they shouldn’t be able to follow the simple instruction “stay here at a sensible distance, with the trolley, wait for me and DON’T MOVE” though, which was standard issue to us as kids at busy, highly stressful places like airports) but definitely small enough (and hyperactive and disobedient enough) to be nothing but an impediment to the luggage-retrieving process, of which they generally seem to consider themselves a crucial part.

The eager beavers– finally, those people who jump up from their seats the moment the plane has reached the terminal. I know I’m a bit of a goody two-shoes at times, but they clearly tell you, every time you fly, to wait until the captain has turned off the seat-belt sign to get up. Leaping up doesn’t get you off the plane any sooner, as people always seem to do that very organised row-by-row exit, and even if it does get you off the plane a bit quicker, you still have to wait for your bags (although I often suspect these people are carousel-hogs too….)

I have neglected to mention the DVT-phobic, mainly because they generally don’t annoy me too much, unless they are standing next to me, stretching and pacing, when I’m in an aisle seat, although I marvel at their fear of getting a DVT on a 2 hour flight when they sit still for longer than that in a movie, and probably every night at home in front of the TV. I also hate the conversation-maker (groan- “You on your way home? Travelling for work? Oh, what do you do?”…) and the person with children. I know they have a right too fly too, I have my own children, which is why, even if you fit none of the above 5 categories, I recommend you still don’t sit next to me on a plane.

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