It’s not so much a fear of flying as such, but rather a fear of plummeting to my untimely death.
If I’m going to suffer the torment of living out the potential of my seemingly inevitable grim demise in my own head for three and a half hours of confined space and torturous altitude, I’d like to, at the very least, do it with a modicum of leg room, a substandard meal of some bloated fleshy chicken type substance to break up the monotony of serious seatback staring, and ideally, a row to myself.
It’s not that I don’t like people…
Actually maybe that does have something to do with it.
In my years as an intermittent airline traveller, it has become pretty clear to me that there are a set of unspoken, universal laws of air travel that outline very particular types of airline passengers one wishes to avoid being seated with, or near, at all costs.
And as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m now one of them.
But before we get to that minor horrifying detail, let’s take a look at a selection of unacceptable social injustices of the skyways.
That person who wants to talk to you for the next four hours about where they’re from, where they’re travelling to and why, along with other useless factoids like whether they’re doing hot or cold Christmas lunch this year or the name of the bartender at a delightful little boutique hotel they stumbled across by happenstance in Mexico last summer (hola Jorge!).
The amount of conversation closing, one word answers and I-don’t-give-a-shit tight lipped smiles you respond with acts as no deterrent.
Burying ones head in the inflight magazine in an effort to see what movies they play on flights to China and what channel one would need to switch to if one were indeed travelling to China, which one is not, is futile.
Is it rude to put headphones on while someone is mid-illuminating-sentence about the recent kidney surgery of their cousin’s five year old Labradoodle? Jury is out.
The sleep trapper
That person who falls asleep next to you and goes on to inflict upon you the sleep of the undead thus leaving you stranded, pinned to the window with a bladder as full as the Hoover dam and a calf cramp resembling late stage labour pains.
Thanks for nothing you lazy bastard.
Proceed to cough loudly in the hopes of waking comatose freedom hijacker.
Sleep trappers can’t be woken though, cough all you like, you’re wasting your time.
The “pungent” passenger
I don’t mean to state the obvious but an aeroplane is a confined space.
Nobody deserves to be smothered with the body odour or gaseous emissions of a stranger in an inescapable pressurised cabin/airborne death trap (however you choose to look at it).
The personal space encroacher
FYI, I’m not a human head rest. As it happens, everybody does not, in fact, need a bosom for a pillow. At least not my bosom, as your pillow, person I’ve never met before.
Also, I do believe the arm rests are a communal item. I, too, have arms that would like the opportunity to rest.
Surrounding seating inclusions also apply.
Rear seat kicker
Officially the most annoying sensation in the world. Possibly caused by unlucky shmuck seated alongside a sleep trapper in a futile attempt to relieve aforementioned calf cramp of doom or in an effort not to lose all bladder control.
Or, allocated seating in front of small child.
The latter may result in consequences including, but not limited to, casual mentioning of the fact that I’m not convinced Santa Claus really exists, if parental control is not undertaken forthwith.
If I wanted my lower back to be used as a punching bag I’d go to a shopping mall massage parlour and fork out $15 for the crappiest half hour of my life.
Seat recline guy
You know who you are. Angry face.
And then there’s me…
That person travelling with a baby or young children
Both, if we’re talking worst case scenario. Which I am.
So yep, I am currently that person that steps on to a plane with a small army of tiny humans I created myself, that everyone silently prays they are sitting nowhere near.
I know they’re doing it. I recognise that grimace masquerading as an understanding smile. I’ve been that person, I get it, I do.
People with small children are politely ushered to the back of the plane… But you know what, that’s ok. Extensive research and statistical analysis undertaken by the producers of Lost has proven without exception that people at the back of the plane survive a crash and the people at the front get blasted out into the ether in a million fiery pieces.
So I’m down with sitting at the back of the plane. Row 24 for the win.
But, with my new found status as número uno passenger to avoido, I have at the same time, inadvertently become ALL of the worst passengers to be seated with in one neat adorable blonde package of multiple duplicates of my own DNA.
So, as one of my three year olds attempts loudly versed, moderately tedious, incessant small talk about her own bodily functions with surrounding strangers who are trying to read their inflight magazine, the other falls asleep so soundly that our neighbouring passenger is confined to his sweaty pleather seat sans arm rest which is currently acting as my sons pillow. At this same point my baby exercises her democratic right to epic bad timing of the very messy bowel movement variety, complete with the stench of a thousand Vikings, and in my efforts to rifle through our nappy bag for hazardous material clean up purposes, I inadvertently mercilessly punch the back of the seat in front of me approximately thirteen thousand times.
Can anyone really blame me when, after all that, I throw caution to the wind and recline my seat back as far as it will go?