Yes I know air travel can test the patience of a saint but really – the incidents of air rage are on the rise according to an article in Travellers United – read for yourself – Air rage is on the rise
So what is the answer – is the problem the alcohol that is consumed before and during the flight or is it the fact that seats are getting smaller and bums are getting bigger? We hear all the fanfare from the airlines about dream liners coming on stream but when you sit down and check out the seating plan it really sucks! Probably the worse configuration you can have on a plane is the 3 – 3 – 3. That means for sure that on every single row in economy you have at least 3 unhappy people. Those who get stuck in the middle seat.
Not much fun at all.
Only 23% of cases of air rage involved alcohol – the rest all seemed to involve physical aggression towards other passengers or crew or damage to the aircraft. Yep – people can get pretty mad when they are cooped up on an aircraft –
Stop kicking the back of my seat
I told you I wanted another bag of pretzels dammit!
You can sympathise really if you just think of the things that make you mad on your way to work. That guy who cuts in front of you or that stupid woman who doesn’t know how to merge. But the difference is you are free! You can give them the finger and drive to work muttering all the way and then regale your colleagues with the story over a Tim Horton’s coffee.
When you are stuck in a metal cylinder with this other person who is SO getting on your nerves there is no escape. Add to that the frustration of being cramped up like a sardine in a can – no wonder. But hang on – does this sort of thing happen to first class passengers? Well no – of course not to the same degree – but an interesting statistic here. Air rage amongst economy class passengers is way higher when they have to walk through the first class section.
We have all been there. Finally you get on the plane after a long line up. You are in row 39 and you walk past these people lolling around in their big seats, sipping on champagne. Huh! Finally you get to row 39 (and yes you are in the middle) and you think “What the hell????” Unfortunately it sets the mood – so maybe airlines should think about boarding from the back and doing away with the middle seat.
I will add that to my wish list next time I get the long half of the wishbone!
It just seems to get worse and worse. Everyone knows the middle seat sucks. More often than not you get stuck next to a stranger – sometimes stuck in the middle of two strangers. Even worse. Especially arm hogging big strangers. Do I have to repeat the arm rest rule –
Window seats get the window
Aisle seats get one armrest
Middle seat gets both armrests.
Aaaah – the good old days!
It was slightly worse for an unfortunate man flying from Hawaii to JFK. He took the middle seat while his wife had the window seat. Now … that`s what I call gallantry. However his chivalrous behaviour was not rewarded by the gods. No siree. The chappie sitting on the aisle seat proceeded to get drunk and then started playing with our Middle Seat Man. Yes … playing as in touching his groin. Oh my …. what to do in a situation like that? Our Middle Seat Man said “What the hell?” or words to that effect upon which his molester took his pants off totally and started…. Well sorry. You will have to read the full report in the New York Post.
Now this has to be the worst case of bad behaviour towards a Middle Seat Person.
Usually Middle Seat People have to put up with less grevious but still very irritating behaviours such as having no arm rest at all, constant interruptions from the small bladdered window person and nosy parkers peering at your computer screen. No surprise that airlines are now charging a premium seat selection charge for the 2 seats on the side and even for the aisle and aisle in the 3 configuration of seats in the middle of the aircraft. Some might try to outwit the system by booking the aisle and aisle and leaving the middle seat open. Good luck with that – only works on flights that are not heavily booked.
Other common fellow passenger complaints such as smelly feet, smelly packed lunches, super-sized travellers, fidgets and non-stop talkers are amplified to frightening levels when inflicted upon the Middle Seat Person. There is no escape except by way of medication.
We all moan about airport security, body scans, little baggies for our “fluids” and how much time this adds onto the whole commute but really – that is not the worst thing about flying. There is something about getting on an aircraft that brings out those “Naked Ape” (1) instincts. First of all there is the gate. You get there extra early so you can be first in line when the gatekeeper comes on duty. While waiting for said gatekeeper you eye up any competition for the front of line and by subtle body movements make it clear that you were there first and will kill anyone who steps in front of you. After all the only thing you want to is get out of that dreaded middle seat. An upgrade wouldn’t be bad either if you can smile ingratiatingly to the girl or guy on the desk. Don’t bother however. Those days are long gone. You will likely only ever get an upgrade when you are about to be bumped, unless you happen to be a Premium 5 Diamond Gold Covered Elite super hero.
Then they do the pre-boarding. George Carlin summed it up well –
What does it mean to pre-board? Do you get on before you get on?
– George Carlin
Some airlines will board by row number from the back of the plane but that usually deteriorates into a scrum as everyone wants to get onto the plane first to grab that overhead bin. And how many times have you stood in the aisle while someone takes their coat off, folds it up, puts it in the bin, arranges their overnight bag in the bin, almost sits down and then remembers that they need their newspaper. Come on people – get organised.
Then we have to do the whole procedure in reverse. Despite the flight attendants requesting everyone to keep seat belts fastened while we taxi to the gate there is always some bright spark who chooses to ignore that. And holy cow when the announcement is made that you can use a cell phone you would think the whole plane was full of Very Important People as phones are whipped out of pockets, purses and briefcases.
Just got to text my driver
And the Blackberries are in the lead followed closely by the iPhone. But wait, as they come round the corner a lone Android is closing the gap. Oh wait – a disaster – the Blackberries are down and the iPhones romp home.
By now everyone is standing up even though we are not even connected to the gate. I know, I know, I do it too. No point in denying it. It’s just that competitive instinct. I know I am in row 23 but damn I am going to get off this plane first if it kills me.
No wonder high speed trains are so popular in Europe.
(1) The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris – also a good read The Human Zoo by the same author.