I have flown a lot. I can tolerate short haul flights (up to three hours in duration) but I genuinely hate flying long haul. Even the excitement of reaching an exotic and interesting location cannot haul me out of the depths of despair at the prospect of spending twelve hours on a metal tube with wings.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not afraid of flying. I just hate it because it is so dull and uncomfortable.
However, the tedium of flying can be improved by following one of the ten commandments that I have just created.
If you are ever unlucky enough to find yourself on an aircraft sitting next to a grumpy blonde baboon with a hybrid Mancunian/Black Country accent then our mutual of enjoyment of the flight will be guaranteed if you follow the following guidelines.
1. Thou shalt not talk to me during the flight unless it is an emergency.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a nice guy and willing to talk to most people. And I will allow a few words to be exchanged at the start or the end of the flight. However, if you are a talkative person and want to spend the next twelve hours engaging me in conversation about your life and experiences –JUST DON’T.
I speak from bitter experience.
One guy on a flight back from Europe told me that the book I was reading was rubbish and then proceeded to tell me the ending even when he saw that I was halfway through the thing.
“Ditch it!” he said. “Read something else.”
“I only have this book,” I said through clenched teeth.
“You’ll thank me,” said the prick.
“Okay!", I said. "Thanks for ruining the book and my flight!”
2. Thou shalt not grab my hand during turbulence or tell me that you are scared of flying all the way through the flight.
Related to the above, I was on a four hour domestic flight next to a guy about my age. As the plane took off, he turned to me and said. “I’m terrified of flying.”
I told him that flying was a doddle and he should relax. And for a while he did – until we hit turbulence about an hour into the flight. He grabbed my hand and said “That’s not normal!”
I tried to reassure him that it was but he wouldn’t have it. The remaining three hours were interrupted with shakes and bumps and he spent all of that time telling me in a variety of ways just how terrified he was. I could do nothing other than spend that time as a simian counsellor.
He thanked me at the end for being “a rock” but the truth is I almost asked to be moved. And my poor hand hurt. And the other passengers probably thought we were a couple.
3. Thou shalt not attempt to climb over me while I am asleep on a long haul flight.
I would rather you wake me up rather than wake up to find you straddled across me on your way out.
On a long haul flight, any moment you can sleep is a gift from God.
However, I am a light sleeper and any movement from the seat next to me wakes me up. So imagine my surprise when on a ten hour flight to South Africa, I awoke to find the lovely young lady next to me, straddled across me as she tried to get across without waking me. She was embarrassed, I was embarrassed and the rest of the flight was totally awkward.
Worse, the same thing happened with a rather large gentleman who actually fell on me when the plane hit turbulence. I’m glad the other passengers found that amusing.
4. Thou shalt not invade my personal space with any part of your body – particularly with your elbows during eating.
There is nothing worse than having your food knocked off your fork when a space invader knocks your elbow at the most inopportune moment.
5. Thou shalt not fall asleep on my shoulder and drool all over me.
I’d also like to add “or snore in my face with your bad breath” to this.
6. Thou shalt not be rude to the stewardesses.
I am genuinely in awe of stewards and stewardesses and the job they do and I try to accommodate them and be nice during the flight. However, if you are rude because they haven’t got the “right wine” or if you try to ask the stewardess on a date upon landing because she has been “especially nice” to you (and therefore simply MUST fancy you) then you are a prick.
7. Thou shalt not push your fat belly in my face whilst trying to get your bag from the overhead locker.
This is worse than having you personal space invaded by an elbow. Once a man reached up and as he did so, his T shirt rose revealing a bloated, hairy fat gut that he then proceeded to ram into my face. I almost used the sick bag. He didn’t even apologise, the prick.
8. Thou shalt not throw a book at my face.
Actually, I did this to a fellow passenger. I was boarding the flight and he was in the aisle seat. “I’m there,” I said pointing to the window seat next to him. I then threw my book to my seat but my aim was terrible. I hit him full in the face, corner first, and he yelled in pain. Worse, the book drew blood on his forehead.
I was mortified and so apologetic that I was willing to prostrate in front of him and be his slave for the rest of the short flight. He was absolutely fine and after a quick visit to the toilet to stem the flow of blood he simply said “Accidents happen. Don’t worry about it.”
He was pissed off with me by the end of the flight though because I broke commandment number one and apologised to him continuously through the flight.
What a prick I was.
9. Thou shalt not complain that the seat is too small and that the seat belt does not fit.
I don’t mind fat people. I don’t mind sitting next to fat people on a flight. What I do mind is sitting next to belligerent fat people who complain that “the seat is too small” and that “real people don’t fit in seats”. I am a real person and the seat fits fine.
10. Thou shalt make every effort to sit at the other end of the aircraft if you have a baby.
I pity people with babies who have to fly. But I have suffered with them. I once found myself sitting next to a couple with a baby on a long haul flight and the small beautiful bundle of cuteness suddenly lost all of its adorability when the aircraft took off.
For the next eight hours, it mutated into a screaming explosion of noise accompanied by vomit and shit exploding from its orifices. I didn’t get a wink of sleep and I felt sick. I wanted to be away from them but I couldn’t because the plane was rammed to overflowing. Now I know where babies are usually located, I always try to select a seat as far away from them as possible. It doesn’t always work.
And finally ...
Of course if you know me – and I like you – then you are exempt from most of the above rules. However, if you are Mrs PM or a male friend and suddenly present me with a baby during the flight I can guarantee that I will probably freak out in a highly disturbing but amusing way.