Seatmates in the skies are like surprise presents.
You will never know what or who you are getting until it/he/she gets there. Unless you fly with someone and you booked your seats to sit together.
Each time you fly, you’re cooped in a very confined space (talk economy cabin) with hundreds of others, all of you strangers from different cultures. You get to meet all kinds of passengers and all sorts of attitudes in the air. You’ll see passengers getting bored, impatient, restless, and cranky.
A lot of people are not really comfortable flying and considers it a necessary evil. The majority of the passengers only want to get it over and done with while only a very few really enjoy the flight.
One time I had a flight from Davao to Manila, and I paid extra for a window seat. When I got to my place, a woman was already there with a child, and she was surrounded by plastic bags and a hundred other things. I double-checked, and it was MY seat.
I told the woman she was in my seat. She retorted that she was there early, and I should just take another seat somewhere else, and “if I want a window seat, I should have come earlier.”
I always pay extra for a window seat when I have to because I always take aerial photos. The woman’s attitude just made me cranky.
I called an FA and told her someone was in my seat. The FA evicted the woman back to her original aisle seat. She glowered at me and mumbled, pissed off that she had to relocate. Once we were airborne, she asked if it was my first time riding a plane. I just bit my lip to refrain from answering.
On yet another flight, I was in my window seat at the very rear of the plane, and this guy took the seat beside me. He then asked the FA for a seatbelt extender. Mounds of his flesh all spilled into my side, and I was squashed and squeezed into my little corner. Luckily it was a short two-hour flight, and he was so cheerful and pleasant. I survived with my original form still intact and not lopsided. I just thought that If I suffered from his weight, he was suffering hundreds of times more.
During a long-haul flight from Hong Kong to Las Vegas one time, I was busy shooting clouds through the window when this woman hissed at me from the middle aisle and said, “Close your damn f****ng window! We don’t open windows on long flights!”
Stunned, I answered sweetly, “Yes Maam, I’m sorry, I was just waiting for a peddler to fly from outside the window so I can buy some eggs and biscuits because I’m so hungry.” I did not look to see her reaction.
Then there was this one woman who really freaked me out. She hugged her rosary beads so tight throughout the two-hour flight and uttered her prayers so loud. It made me think she might have experienced traumatic flights before.
On a flight to Narita from Jakarta one time, the girl behind me was watching a movie and was laughing so loud she has headphones on, and only she can see what was tickling her.
A woman marches down the aisle with three young kids, and you hope to high heavens they are not your seatmates. If they are, and the kids engage in a screaming contest throughout the flight, just be thankful you’re not the one traveling with the kids and become the recipient of glares from other passengers.
Another time, there’s this giant of a guy in front of me. I was enjoying my coffee and watching cloud formations in the skies when all of a sudden, he reclined his seat, jerking my tray and spilling with my coffee. That’s the only time I learned to appreciate the lukewarm coffee they served me.
The stories about seatmates in the skies are endless, and we could go on and on. Unless you charter the whole flight for yourself, there’s nothing you can do about it but accept whatever and whoever sits next to you and around you.
Here’s my secret on how to survive flights. Just think that whatever you’re feeling about your stranger seatmates, the feeling is mutual, and second, your flight won’t last forever. You’re going to land again after a few hours.
For more madventures, please visit www.scramblednotesfromtheroad.com.