On Sunday afternoon I fly up to a school in Cairns for a week as a Writer in Residence there, so I thought it would be timely for me to share my wealth of experience concerning plane etiquette with the world at large. So I give you:
A Dozen Ways to be Annoying on a Plane.
- When they call passengers for Boarding, remember to fight your way furiously to the front. Under no circumstances let anyone slip in ahead of you! This is crucial of course, because if you are one of the first people on the plane, then you will have the obvious advantage of being one of the first people to take off and land as well. This will give you the jump on all the other, less perceptive passengers.
- Don’t concern yourself about those silly regulations regarding carry-on bags. Heavens, they don’t apply to you! As long as you have something with wheels and a handle, who cares if it’s the size of a bulk shipping container? Sure, it will break the backs of three strong men and take a crane to lift it into the storage compartment; and sure, once there it will proceed to squash and crush all those other wimpy fit-within-the-maximum-dimension bags; but hey, that’s just part of the rich tapestry of life!
- When looking for your seat, completely ignore all those little signs that clearly indicate that ‘a’ is the window seat and ‘c’ is the aisle seat and just take a wild stab in the dark about which one is yours. And yes I admit, sometimes the row numbers don’t line up precisely with the actually rows, so maybe just try to sit in the general area indicated by the number and letter on your ticket. Don’t worry, someone else will eventually sort it all out for you. Almost certainly the person whose seat you have stolen.
- When you have decided on the possible location of your seat make sure you take your time getting yourself settled. These things just can not be rushed. Certainly it’s acceptable to stand in the aisle while you painstakingly rearrange every item in the storage locker so that your stuff fits comfortably and is easily accessible. Perhaps you could remove your suit coat and jumper and fold them lovingly into neat bundles while you are at it? The long line of people you are blocking won’t mind a bit. They will happily pass the time imagining themselves strangling a person with their own tie and disposing of the body in an overhead storage locker.
- Once you’re settled and the plane is taxi-ing out, ask questions and call for points of clarification during the Safety Talk. This is particularly effective if the instructions are pre-recorded.
- When you are at last on your way, remember that you have two elbows and that your seat has two arm rests, so clearly they both must be for you.
- When you have your earphones on and you’re watching the fabulous inflight entertainment – eg Charlie Sheen’s wacky antics on Two and a Half Men – remember to constantly laugh out loud so everyone else knows how much you’re enjoying it. Also add some commentary if you can. Something like: ” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! He slept with her grandmother! Winning!”
- When you want to turn the overhead light on, remember to always push the ‘call’ button by mistake. This helps keeps the cabin crew awake and on their toes. In any case, when they arrive to find out what the problem is, they will be able to turn on the light for you and save you all that effort. (This is an excellent thing to do during food service or major turbulence.)
- If you are going to push your seat back to the recline position make sure you do it at a time and in a manner that will cause maximum shock and discomfit to your fellow travellers. A good method is to ram it back with the thrust of a jet engine just as the person behind you has been served their meal. They should be eternally grateful to you, because this will cut down on the distance required to transport food from their plate to their mouth. Ideally if you ram your seat back hard enough, their food will automatically transport itself to their mouth – and surrounding areas.
- Even though the stranger beside you has answered your last three questions with single words or grunts and then quickly buried their head back in their book/magazine each time, by all means keep talking! They are probably just shy and secretly pining for companionship. Try bringing them out of themselves with some clever probing like, “Hey I design sewerage systems and research skin diseases in my spare time. What do you like doing?”
- If you have the window seat on a long flight, drink copious amounts of beer. This will give you the opportunity, every 15 minutes or so, to meet and greet the people beside you as they repeatedly shuffle into the aisle to let you out. On your return, remember to make a witty comment such as, “The old bladder’s not what it used to be!” as you order another round.
- When you finally arrive at your destination, even though the cabin crew have told you numerous times to remain seated until the seatbelt light goes off, don’t pay any attention to that. As soon as you hear any kind of noise – like a bell chiming or a phone beeping or possibly just someone breaking wind – leap from your seat and immediately start ripping things from the overhead locker like a maniac. With a bit of luck you will have beaten down the exit door and be halfway to the terminal before someone has a chance to point out to you that the seatbelt light is still on.
Wish me luck on my flight.