Airline travel stereotypes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

In my last article on traveling, I spoke of issues of the Transportation Security Administration and Congress and their rules and regulations. For all who have traveled by plane for business, or if you are just a soccer mom, grandma, or grandpa and you fly for pleasure, have you ever noticed the personality of your traveling public? And have you experienced the following:

– The Know-It-All passenger: This guy (always a male) comes in two types.

The first guy has a rudimentary understanding of the airline industry, because he was a terminal janitor or something similar.


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The second guy has had two pilot lessons and thinks he is now a fighter ace. Whatever his background, this guy will provide to you an unprompted running commentary on everything that is happening inside the plane, outside the plane, in the cockpit and in the control tower from the time you you get in the plane until the time you get out of the plane. (George Carlin made it clear — you don’t get on the plane, you get in the plane).

This guy is also deaf, because he tends to speak loud enough so that all within three rows can hear him. Do not make eye contact with him if you want any peace.

– The Talker Passenger: Usually a female.

She will share everything with you — family, her illnesses, travel, her cat, current events from People Magazine, anything that crosses her mind.

Your initial warm, polite smile is her green light to engage her mouth, which can move faster than the jet turbines. You become polite at first, but she then beats you down until you end up completely ignoring her; but this doesn’t stop her.

I try and be polite and cordial to everyone on board, or within the three-row limit, because airline travel sucks for everyone in the plane. And if you are an interesting person, I would love to have a two-way conversation with you. But please, if you are a bore and the other person has stopped listening, just shut up.

– Mr Clean: My law of travel: The greater the body odor of a passenger x the length of the flight = the seat closest to you.

One of the drawbacks to cheaper airfares is that the unclean masses moving off the Greyhound and into the seats next to you. I ask “Is it too much to shower, wash your hair, brush your teeth and put on fresh clothes before you get into the plane? (Just because you are from France or some other third-world country, that does not excuse you.)

There is already a shortage of oxygen in the plane because the know-it-all guy and the talker are filling the pressurized cabin with carbon dioxide. If you add bad breath and body odor to the mix, it becomes unbearable, and you can’t open the window to get a breath of fresh air.

– The Nervous Nelly: She doesn’t like to fly and her tenseness is enough to rub off on you. Reassure her by informing her that if the plane crashes, she won’t die of smoke and flames. It’s the sudden impact of hitting the ground.

– The Lost Passenger: This is the person who’s in the plane and has no idea where his or her seat is. My goodness, people, it’s a straight and narrow ‘trail” that begins at the front of the plane and ends by the “john.’

They have a boarding pass that tells them their seat number, but they have to continue to slow down the boarding because they have to keep looking for the number and looking to the side and straight ahead, and even backwards to find their seat.

– The Carry-on Violation Passenger: The rule states that you are allowed one carry-on a personal item (purse sized). Well, here comes a passenger, male or female, that has a carry-on the size of a Volkswagen, that is actually two pieces and a laptop. If your carry-on has wheels, it is not a carry-on. Stop hogging all of the overhead storage space. I ask why didn’t the airline ticketing agents stop you at the gate?

– Children: I understand that babies and infants cry, but is it too much to ask you to make your older kids behave? As a parent who flew with my kids when they were young, I can relate, so I will let the rest slide. You all know what takes place anyway.

Are you not glad that the summer traveling season is almost over?

Volper is a former Suffolk residents residing in Houston.