I love flying. There’s something very romantic and exciting about airports: everyone is in a rush to go somewhere and do something, people are reuniting after long times spent apart, and everyone just seems like they’re on their way to starting an adventure. Also, really more than anything, I love mini-size toiletries. (Does anyone else make it a goal to finish all the mini-toothpaste by the end of the trip? No? Just kidding, I don’t either.)
The interesting thing about flying is that the more you do it, the more you can end up hating it. At this time in my life, I still love flying, but every flight gives me reason to go “you know what? Never mind”. I’ve been stopped in security for “inappropriate clothing” (“Ma’am, please leave your jacket on if you are only wearing lingerie underneath.” “But I’m not, it’s a shirt—“ “MA’AM. YOUR JACKET. PLEASE LEAVE IT ON). I’ve been on a flight that was delayed for 3 hours because of a nesting goose (what?). I also super love paying 9 dollars for a sandwich within the airport that would only cost 4 dollars in the real world.
Personal experience aside, flying just has its own special (and enduring) culture that exists from plane to plane. It also has specific types of people that make up that culture. Maybe you are these people; maybe you’ve seen these people. Either way, trust me, they’re there:
The I’m-too-good-for-you-in-first-class flyers: These are the flyers that are already situated in their seats by the time you stagger onto the plane, panting and overheated from the weight of your carry-ons. Note that they usually don’t make eye contact, but if they do, it’s only for the barest of seconds before you’re dismissed. They don’t care about you: you’re sitting on the other side of that thin netting curtain…in coach. That mesh divider might as well be a moat around a castle: it acts to separate first class and the rest of us commoners. What do you think that mesh curtain is going to do, fancy first class royalty? I CAN SEE YOUR OPULENCE THROUGH THIS FLIMSY BARRIER. DO NOT THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN ME BECAUSE A BASIC PIECE OF FISHNET SEPARATES US.
The germa-phobe-DO-NOT-TOUCH-ME flyers: These are the people who freak out at the barest of touches from a wayward elbow, ankle, or stowaway backpack. I’m all for avoiding a contagion/pandemic, but pulling away dramatically when my forearm accidentally hits your ankle as I stow my purse under the seat in front of is just being over-dramatic. And antisocial. It’s not like I’m trying to caress you…I was assigned about 15 inches of cubic space, and I’m just trying to fit my entire Gigantor body and all of my other belongings into it. There’s going to be contact. Don’t try to hide behind your magazine as we awkwardly dance on this armrest. I know what’s happening.
The-my-seatback-musttttttttt-be-reclined flyers: These people are always seated directly in front of you. They’re never in front of your traveling companions, or in front of any other airline patron seated elsewhere on the plane. They’re always just in front of you. God forbid these types of flyers be uncomfortable for about 2 hours in an upright position. Oh no, these people must lean their seats back so far that their tray tables are now one with your rib cage. No matter what, do not sneeze.
Crying babies. Someone implants a crying baby on every flight, like a louder, smaller, non-secretive, and less bowel-controlled version of an air marshal. They’re always there. Always.
The I’m-asserting-my-authority-by-moving-around-this-cabin flyers: These are the people whose fingers itch to remove the seatbelt as soon as possible. Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, and a flight attendant chimes “You can now freely move about the cabin”, these people are up and out of their seats. They’re sprinting to the bathroom, ripping open the overhead compartments, or just running up and down the aisle, waving their arms. I don’t know what their issue is, but we get it, rebels. You can’t be held down.
The I-challenge-you-to-a-duel, Sir Overhead-Compartment flyers: The placing of bags overhead is a tricky activity. I mean, you’re trying to get yourself and your 2 TSA-approved carry-ons down a tiny aisle without knocking everyone unconscious. LOL, it’s impossible. Such a difficult activity spawns the separation of the world into two different types of people: people who handle their overhead baggage like men, and people who handle it like pansies. The first category is comprised of people who quickly and efficiently pick up their bags mid-aisle and make one, two, twenty, fifty-seven attempts to stuff their suitcases into the overhead compartment. After succeeding, they sit down and move on. Then, there are the frustrating idiots of overhead compartment storage, or the second category. These people know that everyone else on the plane is trying to get their stuff stowed away, but they’re still totally okay with holding up the aisle just to pack away their sweater and/or miniature wristlet purse in the overhead compartment. Just know, second category flyers, that I secretly loathe you.
The I’m-An-Air-Warrior-Because-I-Fly-Allll-the-Time flyers: These are people who have read the entirety of and own everything within a Skymall magazine. They are a blur of roller suitcases, Blackberrys, business suits, and efficiency. They spend their entire lives outside of the airport using 3 oz. containers of liquids. They are a docile, bland, and possibly soulless brand of people.
There you have it, ladies and gentleman. An anthropological field guide to the culture of flying in today's world. Now put your seat backs upright, put away your tray tables, and stow away your electronics...it's time to ignore the flight attendant during the safety demonstration.