Saturday, May 1, 2010

How to be a good seat neighbour

Being Australian, I'm used to very long flights. To get to Europe, it's a good 8 hours to Singapore and then another 12 or so hours to London. Call me a weirdo, but I actually find long haul flights more easy to manage than say, a six hour flight. You know what you're getting in for, you can watch a couple of movies, read a couple of books and get some decent sleep (with the help of very mild over the counter sleeping pills, ear plugs and an eye mask!)

There are many frustrating things about air travel. The most obvious being why are we still hurtling ourselves through the sky - where is the teleporting technology already?? My frustration started early in my travels yesterday, at Beirut airport. I was there early, and had already wasted some serious time in a cafe, (if you're ever in the neighbourhood, try to muesli at "Salt" on the first floor, it's delightful!) and had made my way to the gate. We were supposed to board at 1:10pm. 1:10pm came and went, and it must have been about 1:30pm that the airline dude actually rocked up. Anyone who can do simple maths could figure out that the flight would be delayed. The actual departure time came and went. The dude had made a couple of annoucements telling people to go to gate 12. My frustration: at no point did he ever say "we apologise for the delay, we expect to board in xx minutes." Communication is key, people!!

So anyway, it was a very non-descript flight to Bahrain, and this is what greeted me in the entry to the transit lounge:

Durka durkistan, lakalaka jihad anyone??

My flight from Bharain to Bangkok was about 6 hours. I was in a window seat with just one person next to me. He was a big man, but no taller than myself. I would be cool with a seat neighbour making incursions into my sacred space if they were super tall, but this guy wasn't. Rule #1 - the space on my side of the armrest, and the seat in front of me, is MINE!!! The space on your side of the armrest and the seat in front of you, is yours. Simple? Apparently not. I'd relinquished the armrest, I'm magnamimous like that, but you can't take the armrest AND jab me in the side with your elbows...not cool. Rule #2 - control your elbows!

Here's another thing...I'm 99.99% sure of this, but I guess this guy had some doubts. Just because you're at high altitude does not mean that your nether regions are going to disappear. You really don't have to keep touching yourself to make sure everything is still there. Correct me if I'm wrong on that. Rule #3 - just leave it alone!

Also, I'm mighty impressed that you have a bladder made of steel, and veins that are deep thrombosis proof, but that doesn't mean you have to give me a dirty look when I ask to get past you to go to the bathroom or stretch out my legs. Rule #4 - a little bit of give and take (I give you an armrest, you let me get up once or twice without death staring me) is required.

Rule #5 - do as you're told. When the plane's nose is pointing in a downwards direction, and the Captain has said we're starting our descent and the seatbelt sign is on, and you don't have your seatbelt on, and the hostess tells you to put your seatbelt on (breathe) you should put your seatbelt on. When she comes back and asks you again, you should really clickety clack. This is not the time for you to finally decide to use the bathroom. Because then the air hostess comes along and gives me a dirty look implying that I should control you better!!

The rules of good seat neighbours extend to those sitting behind as well. I know I've talked about this before - but using the head rest on the seat in front of you (i.e. mine) to help pull yourself out of your seat is really annoying. Particularly when my hair is out, and has gone all crazy from thrashing around on a miniature pillow, and thereby sticking up making it a prime target to be pulled when the head rest is grabbed. Rule #6 - unless you are really old or have a disability, just stand up! And the kicking on the seat. If it's a child, it's annoying but can be solved with a simple request to the parent...if it's an adult who's kicking the back of the chair????

Anyway, as the sun rose while we were flying over Burma,

I waved hello to Emma out the window and was thankful that Bangkok was just a little bit further.

Rant over.

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