If summer were a big juicy orange that you slice in two, the second half would be August. This is a month when we get out of dodge and have fun in the sun. If you plan on flying to parts unknown, I’d like to share a few observations I’ve picked up along the way in the friendly skies. I know it has been a tough year for the airline industry with the occasional person being dragged screaming off the plane but, truth be told, it is we the passengers who are not exactly a day at the beach. Don’t believe me? Let me count the ways that John Q Public can drive everyone on the plane crazy.
Cheap Skate – If you fly Southwest, you know there are no assigned seats and they herd you like cattle, which is fine because you’re saving money. They do offer you an option to pay a bit more for the “early bird” registration which guarantees you’ll board the plane first. The cheap skate doesn’t want to pay for two early bird tickets so he buys one, gets on first, and puts a bag on the seat next to him forcing the woman he loves (whom he wouldn’t spend another $15 on) to stand in line extra long and then board. Chivalry is dead, at least at the airport.
Loud Talkers – These are the people who, no matter how long the flight is, refuse to sit quietly, look out the window and ponder life’s mysteries. Nope. They plan to take a deep breath in Omaha and talk non-stop until the plane lands in Boston. Recently on a flight, I had two lawyers sitting behind me who discussed every case they ever litigated and, just in case passengers couldn’t hear them in the back of the plane, they were shouting the entire time. It was like being trapped in an episode of “Law and Order” minus the good looking cops, snappy dialogue and theme music.
Chatty Neighbor – This is the person sitting directly to your left or right who wants to tell you all about his or her life and learn about yours. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes meeting new people helps pass the time and makes a long flight more enjoyable but sometimes you just want to read your book, listen to music and be invisible. This chatty Kathy doesn’t pick up on the social cues you’re sending like you keeping your earbuds in, you continually looking out the plane window or answering every question with “ah ha” or “is that so?” They can make 300 miles feel like 3,000.
Annoying Guy – This is a broader character of flyer I know you’ll recognize for his litany of transgressions. Annoying guy will constantly kick your seat if he’s behind you or push his seat back into your knees if he’s in front. You never get an apology either.
If annoying guy sits by the window he’s repeatedly putting the shade up and down much like a 4-year-old who has had too much sugar. If he sits on the aisle, he sticks his leg out tripping people as they go by. If he ends up in the middle seat, count on him bringing a small buffet of food in his carry-on bag and laying it out on the tray table. Of course there will be enough onions so the pilots can smell them. Not your pilots—the ones down on the ground. In Alaska.
Annoying guy also has a bladder the size of a gerbil requiring him to make a half-dozen trips to the bathroom as he continually swigs a 64-ounce bottle of water. And every time he takes a drink he says out loud, “Aaah.” Guys walking in the desert for a week are less excited over a sip of water.
Needy Guy – This is the traveler who has confused the plane with a restaurant. He is constantly flagging down the flight attendant for more nuts, water, ice, pretzels, nuts, nuts and more nuts. Good grief—this isn’t an Applebee’s.
And last but certainly not least:
Drunk Guy – This is the dude who shows up to the party already wasted. Recently on a flight to the west coast, a young man traipsed on the flight with half a cup of beer still in his hand. The flight attendant said, “You can’t walk on with that, sir” and held out a garbage bag for him to discard the remaining beer. Nope. He stood there holding up the whole line while he downed the remaining beer. Oh, did I mention it was 8 a.m.? Where you even get a cup of beer at that hour is a mystery, but there he was playing “Animal House” on the non-stop to Nevada. There is one I left off my list. That’s the passenger who looks out the plane window and calls out the animal shapes he sees in the clouds, “LOOK EVERYONE, A BUNNY!!!” Oh wait, that’s me.
John Gray is weekly columnist for the Troy Record and the Saratogian newspapers and news anchor at ABC 10 and FOX 23. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.