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Going on holiday is exciting, especially if there’s plane travel involved. However, we can’t always choose who we sit next to, and the space beside could be filled with any number of interesting people.
Whether your next-door-neighbour is friend or foe, here is our brief guide into the six types of people you’ll sit next to on a plane.
One of the more rare species of traveller, the pro sleeper is a wonder to behold. In fact, you may not even notice they’re next to you – they simply get into their seat, shut their eyes and pass out in a 12-hour hibernation, not even waking for meal time until you land at your destination.
You may often see the pro sleeper using such aids as ear plugs, eye masks and a neck pillow in their quest for sleep, or even just pulling their blanket over their head to create the optimum circumstances for slumber!
If you’ve never encountered this breed of flier, you may fall into this category yourself. These are the ones who always seem to be up to something, whether it’s pulling on flight socks, doing their hair, blowing up a travel pillow, rearranging their blanket or moving their seat every 10 minutes.
A variation is also the itchy feet genus, who finds a new reason to get up and walk around the plane every half hour. They can often become trapped in a vicious cycle of filling up their water bottle or cup before needing to go to the bathroom. Good luck to you if this person isn’t in an aisle seat.
We should really applaud these people for their sheer ability to exploit the carry-on baggage allowance to its full extent. Once that seatbelt sign is off, you can bet they’ll be settling in for the long-haul, pulling out a kiosk-worth of reading material, snacks and knickknacks from their Mary Poppins bag.
If they’re obstructing your path to the aisle, give them some advance notice to clear their stuff and fold away their tray table – it might take a while.
Anyone who has flown for a while will inevitably have encountered a few of these. Sometimes you can see them coming from a mile off. They’ll find their seat, and immediately greet you with an unexpected level of enthusiasm. You’ll reply politely (why wouldn’t you), but you know that this is going to be a long flight.
Sometimes however, the chatty neighbour isn’t always so easy to spot. Maybe you ask them a simple, innocent question like “Could you close the window shade?”, and the situation snowballs. Next minute, you ask about their travel plans, and you’re hooked in for their life story. Which can be great, if it’s an interesting story. Aversion tactics include pretending to not speak English very well, having a headache or attempting to emulate the behaviour of passenger type number 1 on this list.
The business flyer, when seen in its unnatural habitat of economy class, is a particular breed. Often seen flying in a suit, or wearing stilettos, checking their watch and looking generally superior and important.
They’ll often be the last ones off the mobile phone before you take off and the first one to make a phone call when you land. In flight entertainment includes reports and tapping away at their laptop on spreadsheets.
You never know quite what form this traveller may take. It might be a weary backpacker whose last few weeks on the road have stripped them off all sense of propriety, or a worn out parent on the second leg of their long haul with a non-stop crying baby.
Perhaps it’s the fact they’re dressed in pyjama pants, they’re wearing their t-shirt backwards, or a distinct lack of hope in their eyes. Any sense of the outside world slowly fades away, and all they can do is hope for a uneventful flight and swift landing. Best to leave these poor souls in peace.
Wherever you’re going, make sure you’re not the final person on this list – the one without travel insurance.