The real rules of air travel: Get out of the aisle, get out of my seat!

Take a flight from any busy airport and watch fellow passengers turn into children

Maybe you are unable to sit in your seat. Maybe it is occupied by somebody who can’t read seating plans

Maybe you are unable to sit in your seat. Maybe it is occupied by somebody who can’t read seating plans

 

It is said that you learn most about a person’s character when they are placed in danger of their life. A few minutes in the foxhole will part the committed atheist from the closet deist. The coward is separated from the hero. And so on.

Launching a world war is, however, a drastic way of assessing your neighbour’s personality. It makes far more sense to send that person on a scheduled flight from a busy airport.

There are so many opportunities for psychoses to reveal themselves. Look at this vacuum-brained loon with his awful bum-bag and his unfolding fan of differently sized “children”.

You needn’t be a Fields Medal winner to do the mathematics, Mr Ug! [mathworld. wolfram.com/FieldsMedal.html] . The smallest of your infants – the one that is currently not shutting up – could explain that the bottle of pink liquid exceeds 100ml. Take your belt off! It says so right there.

Evolution could advance at three times its geological pace if we just shot all the people who queue up at the gate immediately upon arrival. The ground staff aren’t impressed by you being obedient little drones. The seat number is on the bloody ticket. Nobody is going to usher you to a secret vestibule where you’ll be fed crumbed quails eggs all the way to Leeds Bradford. You’re just ensuring that you get to stand up for 20 minutes longer than passengers with functioning frontal lobes.

You also . . . argh! Stand in out of the aisle! Stand in out of the aisle when stowing your horrible pointy luggage with its hideous dangling novelties. Did you not hear? The flight attendant just said so. Are you deaf as well as mad?

There were no instructions to lurk uselessly between 15C and 15D wearing the face of a four-year-old recently abandoned in an out-of-town shopping centre.

Nobody has asked that you confirm the Riemann hypothesis. You simply shove your luggage in the space provided and immediately sit in the seat indicated. If at all possible, you do so with a determined Olympic speed that boasts of your own superior efficiency.

Maybe, you are unable to sit in your seat. Maybe, it is occupied by somebody who can’t read seating plans (a mild custodial sentence will do) or – much, much worse – by one of those quarter-human barbarians who regards the information on the ticket as mere “advice”. You’ve come across these people on flights taking them to the next sacking of Rome.

“Oh, are you sitting here?” they say in the “reasonable voice” that neighbours describe when discussing recently revealed serial killers on news reports. “Would you like me to move?”

The implication is that they are doing you a favour by giving you the seat you booked eight seconds after online check-in became available. You always sit there. The plane won’t crash if you sit there. And they’re behaving like you’re the maniac?

Here’s the rule about putting your seat back on planes. It’s allowed on long-haul flights, but it is polite, even then, to check behind you before ramming the tray-table up some unfortunate person’s nose.

The people who put their seats back on short-haul flights are the same people who allow dogs to crap in your garden, who park in disabled parking spots and who remilitarise the Rhineland in defiance of the League of Nations [irishtimes.com/culture/ tv-radio-web/is-boris-johnson-like-hitler- or-one-of-those-mad-fellas].

It is not just your right to sigh petulantly and force your knees aggressively into the seatback. It is your duty. It is what Jesus would have done.

It’s probably unfair to include people who put luggage in the hold with these nutcases, but I do so anyway. What strange delusion is at work here? Nobody travelling for two weeks or less needs a bag larger than those permitted in overhead compartments.

Every May I travel to the south of France for 10 nights. Here is what I need: two chargers, a computer, 10 pairs of underpants, 10 pairs of socks, 10 shirts, three pairs of trousers, two paperback books, soap bag, phone, wallet, notebook.

It requires no sitting on the suitcase or straining at straps to get that relatively modest pile into a suitable case. But this is too much for most people. How do they get through daily life with such weird, disordered brains?

These people don’t get in my way. How could they? While they’re huddling pathetically round the carousel praying that their bags aren’t in Dar es Salaam, I am already striding for the exit with my nose pointing proudly to a sky that I own.

Another flight has confirmed my towering superiority to the everyday bacteria that can’t learn the most fundamental rules of air travel. I’m cackling audibly. Ha, ha! Look at me, look at me! And they think I’m the crazy one.

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