Everyone who already took a plane – or a train, or a bus, for that matter – has realised how different the people that sit next you can be – and how that will shape your trip, regardless of its length. Having someone nice sitting next to you will make your trip seem quicker and definitely more pleasant; having an idiot by your side will potentially turn your journey into hours of misery. After years of intensive fieldwork, I decide to come with 5 – 6, actually – passenger types that everyone has probably seen while traveling. Here they are – in no particular order:
1. The midage woman
Always speaks in her native language. She asks you whether that’s the right seat, and (if it’s a train) whether that’s the right car and whether it is going to her stop. The overhead locker doesn’t exist for her: she sits with her purse and coat always, but always by her side – maybe because she will invariably take a bag of cookies, or crips, or anything, and offer them to you.
2. The fat smelly drunk man
Allow me to sound hopelessly snob: low-cost carriers have done wonders to all of us – I value flying anywhere in Europe for a tenner probably more than landing on the moon – in any case chances are I won’t be landing on the moon anytime soon. If it wasn’t for low-costs, I wouldn’t have seen most of what I was fortuned to see in Europe. The downside of that, though, is: sitting next to these unfortunate specimens of mankind. They’ll ruin yours, everyone else’s and maybe their own trip. They’re rude from the moment they sit and the closest they come to speak is by mumbling. They’ll order a large, a large (think two tuna salads, one ciabatta, two gins and two tonic water – this happened next to me, I’ve seen it) deal of food – so much so that you think he’ll share with the whole row – except he won’t. Instead he’ll use your table too, cause Ryanair seats are tiny and those tables can’t fit all that food. Instead, he’ll noisily go through it in such a short time that if binge-eating was an olympic sport, they’d surely nail the olympic minimum. You’ll fear for your safety if you’re in an aisle seat and you ask him to make way for you to go to the bathroom. Your european arrogant flamboyance will tip over the edge the moment they yell to the phone the moment the plane touches down and get up and reach for the overhead lockers when the plane is still parking.
3. The overchatting one
This one was the last one that happened to me. It’s usually nice when you find someone nice, smiley and talkative sitting next you, isn’t it? It is. …until a certain point. Your pleasant surprise soon gives way to despair when the person keeps coming back to you with questions or comments. Brace yourself if one of those tends to be a backpacker traveling around the world – they’ll be so excited about it they’ll just assume you can’t wait to hear the story of their hitchhiking experience in Moldova. Or swimming with dolphins in, I don’t know, Madagascar. Or back to hitchhiking and ‘going where the locals go’ (!) in Bolivia. Whatever. They always seem to have something more to say when you're about to plug your headphones back in.
4.The screaming baby
That person that will fake a smile and make way so you reach your seat and then not say a word during your flight/trip: yeah, that’s the most common. But then again, all things considered, that’s not too bad, is it?