Air travel. Be it known that I am not the perfect flight passenger. I once fell asleep and drooled on the shoulder of the lady next to me. She was very polite and did not say anything, but I woke up from a deep sleep leaning over her shoulder with a little wet patch near the lapel. Neither of us looked each other in the eye all the way to the baggage carousel and beyond. I also once fell asleep (sensing a pattern?!) so heavily that I didn’t hear any of the soon-to-be-landing announcements, and when the plane touched down and jolted me awake, I screamed because I thought we were crashing. Although my fellow passengers were highly entertained, I couldn’t look ANYONE in the eye to the baggage carousel and beyond.
Regardless of my (usually sleep-induced) flaws, my recent international flights have tipped me over the edge on how much other passengers can piss me off. If we all just followed a few simple guidelines (ignoring the obvious rule that I have already broken, do NOT dribble on your fellow passengers), then perhaps some of the angst would be taken out of travelling on the steel birds, and our only concern would be how much Jetstar is charging for a shit cardboard sandwhich, and why the pilot sounds stoned*. So here ’tis.
How To: Not Be A Shitty Flight Passenger (or, How To: Give a Flying F*ck)
|I have both hated and been all of these passengers.|
- Calm the fuck down, we all WILL get on and off the plane. There is no need for you to stand in a huge queue to get on board. There is no need for you to push in the line. There is no need for you to stand up the moment the aeroplane wheels connect with the tarmac, with your head bent at an uncomfortable angle under the seatbelt sign, in a bid to be the first to de-board. The flight attendants will stand there calmly until the plane is full/empty, and whether you are the first or last one on/off the plane, you are still going to have to wait for another fifteen minutes until the flight taxis out or the baggage hits the carousel. So Calm. The fuck. Down.
- Get your shit out of your bag BEFORE you board. The reason we end up standing in line on the plane for so long is because some wanker sat in the gate lounge for twenty minutes, got up, swiped his boarding pass, got to his seat, and THEN decided to remove his jacket, change into his jumper, get out his laptop, locate his iphone in his wanker briefcase, put his briefcase in the overhead locker, go back to it to get his wanky book out, and then FINALLY sit down while we all aged twelve years in the line. Dear wanker, think about what you need before you get on the plane, and we can avoid all the stupid hold-ups.
- Keep your elbows to yourself. We are sharing that arm rest between us, so SHARE. And stop poking me in the ribs.
- When you put your seat back, do it gently. (And preferably, if you are in front of me, don’t put it back at all...) More than once the dickhead in front of me has slammed his chair back at a random point in the flight, and I have spilt coffee all over my lap. Gentle.
- If the seatbelt sign is on, put your frigging seatbelt on. You are not special, even if you are in a rush to get off the plane (see point one, moron). Sit down, get over yourself, and put your frigging seatbelt on.
- If you have a naughty child, at least pretend to look guilty. I was once sat next to a kid who made Dennis the Menace look like an angel. He would not sit still or put his seatbelt on, he kept aiming his little Army tanker at me and pretending to shoot me in the boob, he sang “the song that never ends” for a solid half hour, and he burped and blew it in my direction at least three times. We were both lucky to survive that flight – I could’ve died from annoyance, and he could’ve died from strangling. But the thing that pissed me off the most was that his mum just pretended nothing was happening. Didn’t even TRY to shut him up. If she had at least pretended to care, I would’ve smiled sympathetically and politely blown his burp back away. But instead, I fantasised about opening the Emergency Exit and either jumping, or throwing him out of it.
- Don’t be annoying. If you are playing games on your phone or some other device, turn the bloody sound off. Or risk me hitting you over the head with said device.
- Politely say hello to your neighbour at the beginning of the flight. Chances are, you will be touching intimately at some point or other, so if your neighbour says hello to you, say hello back and don’t be rude. You might even get to eat their dessert if they don’t want it (providing you are on a fancy free-food flight like Qantas).
- Extra wide seats. This is not a rule, but it is an interesting concept. Apparently Airbus is considering offering wider, 20-inch aisle seats to obese passengers, while the other two remaining seats in the aisle will be decreased from the standard 18-inch seat to a slightly squishier 17-inch seat. Given that I spent my recent 10-hour flight back from USA with only 75% of my seat, as an obese 12-year-old boy’s rear end** claimed one quarter of it, I could make do with a 17-inch seat... BUT only if it meant I got to pay 3 inches less than the extra wide seat passengers. I’m happy for people to enjoy their doughnuts, but I’m not happy when it means I’m caught between a butt cheek and a hard place.
- And lastly, but possibly most importantly: No gaschambers. Just because the engine is loud, doesn’t mean we all lose our sense of smell. Even if your fart is silent, it still smells deadly. And there is nowhere for us to run.
Most passengers are excellent and abide by these rules subconsciously, because they are polite and functioning human beings. But if any of these have surprised you, then perhaps you should take them on board (pun intended). Whether you’re a seasoned flying professional or a nervous rookie, follow these guidelines, and at the very least, you will avoid getting thrown out of the Emergency Exit by a disgruntled fellow passenger. Me.
I can’t promise I won’t dribble on you, though...
*This was drawn to my attention recently and now I can’t stop noticing it. Pilots have a very specific.... uhhhh, laidback.... way. Of speaking. In short.... uhhhhh, broken.... sentences. Almost as if they are not quite concentrating, or too relaxed to form a whole sentence. They also sometimes give way more information than necessary – “we are currently flying at 66,000 feet.... uh... with a ground speed of blah blah... uhhhhhh.... the temperature is currently... uhhhhhhhhhhh. We have a tail wind, the humidity is peaking, and my Grandma’s name is Hilda.”
**Please let it be known that I felt sorry for this chubby little fella, and a little judgey of his mum who fed him four doughnuts during the flight. And also, jealous of the four doughnuts he got during the flight.
By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She is probably dribbling on a stranger.