Friday, February 17, 2012


On Wednesday we were discussing my fear of flying - a phobia about the kind of people who end up sitting next to me on planes.

So far we've talked about the Drunk, the Ear Popper, the Sickly Child and the Talker. But wait, there's more!


These people may or may not be virgins in the biblical sense. No, what these virgins have never done is flown in an aircraft. As with all virgins they make themselves conspicuous by trying to look experienced. But they give themselves away when they actually listen to the safety demonstration and then try to plug their headsets into the overhead air vent. Sweaty virgins are the least troublesome of all possible companions. The only time to really worry is when they are wearing a blue uniform and a pilot’s cap.

photograph: eva rinaldi


High fliers are sweaty virgins with experience. They have flown many times, but they are still terrified. Consequently they prepare themselves for the coming ordeal by ingesting Valium, Scotch, marijuana and beer before boarding the aircraft. They can therefore easily be mistaken for a Drunk. 

When they take their seat they gibber nonsensically for about ten minutes and then pass out on your shoulder. In the arrivals lounge of any large airport you can always tell the person who got the seat next to the High Flier because they’ve got a large dribble patch on their shoulder. The best tactic is to remove their seat belts and just let them flop forward onto the tray table. They should be stowed in an overhead locker during turbulence.


These guys are easily identified; they’re the ones with the emerald green tie with the motif of a naked redhead. They drink Scotch straight the whole flight and try to drown out the hum of the engines by talking over them. After some small talk they will try and sell you a car. All you can is ask too much for your trade in.


They look like normal people until a few moments after take off, when the undercarriage is retracting. Then they suddenly go stiff and scream: 'Don’t panic, don’t panic, the plane’s falling to bits!’ The trouble with this type is that they are unpredictable. One small air pocket and they are thrashing around under their seat looking for a parachute.


They are immediately recognizable because they are always sitting next to someone else. Until you get married.


There’s only one thing worse than sitting on a plane next to someone else’s children and that’s sitting on a plane next to your own. Many new parents make the elementary mistake of getting seats adjacent to their offspring. NO. Get separate seats and then disown them until you get to the other end. Hide behind a copy of the inflight magazine and let someone else try and control them for a change.

photograph: Boeing Dreamscape


Of all possible flight companions this is the one most likely to ruin your flight. Their first gambit will be to ask you how much you paid for your ticket. You tell them. 'One way?!' they squeak. They then tell you they paid half of that. ‘There was a special and I also got a free night at the Hilton thrown in - the penthouse suite - with breakfast, a massage, and a bottle of complimentary Veuve Clicquot.' Now try and have a pleasant journey.  

photograph: FLY!


Belchers have a digestion problem that manifests during meals, which they consume without making use of the utensils provided. They laugh out loud with their earphones on while watching the movie and then fall asleep and snore like overfed bears. They also scratch themselves. The best way to avoid this type, I am told, is not to travel with your husband.