Expedia conducted a survey last week and with the help of the 1,000 American travelers polled; they've concluded that inattentive parents make the most annoying passengers. I have found myself seated near the accused throughout my life as a journalist and travel junkie. I'll admit a screaming child, throwing cheerios and racing up the aisle is unpleasant and also...incredibly infrequent.
I've logged 24,600 miles in air travel this year alone, half of those with my infant son (who slept peacefully like the little cherub he is). I'm here to set the record straight. It is too often the adults that act like babies.
Air Asia, Scoot and Malaysia Airlines have been the only carriers bold enough to ban children from specific sections of the plane. No U.S. carrier has done so yet. Could it be that we know there are far worse flyers than the couple of out of control kids? Keep an eye out this holiday season, chances are you'll come in contact with the offenders below.
1. Sleeping Beauty: You paid for a red-eye to Los Angeles, but what you got was a six-hour cuddle fest with a husky man that smelled like prosciutto. Just after takeoff, his head slowly began nodding up and down until suddenly there was a gentle thud on the edge of your shoulder. There will be snoring and drooling, but settle in because you will spend the remainder of your flight as his human pillow.
2. Spring Breakers: They can easily be spotted traveling in large groups, sporting sweat pants and a T-shirt with something like, "1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor!" This group is cheering, laughing and high fiving across aisles. The pimply teen behind you wears sunglasses and taps the back of your seat to the beat blasting through his headphones. Just unbuckle your seatbelt, turn off the overhead light and cough up $6 to watch Despicable Me, on high volume.
3. Oscar the Grouch: This gent' coughed up the extra $89 for more legroom, shelled out a pretty penny to check his over packed bags and then spent his last bit of cash on headphones. You know this because he was screaming about it at the gate. By the time he reaches his assigned seat, he's itching for a reason to explode on any unsuspecting soul. That soul might be you. He calls the Air Hostess, "lady!" and ignores the crew cues to turn off his electronics. For the next 740 miles he huffs to no one in particular that the wifi is out again, damn it!
4. Chatty Cathy: The question "Are you headed home or away from it?" might sound harmless but once you've been seated next to the over sharer, you'll learn to keep your head down, avert your eyes. This is her second trip to Puerto Rico and she's visiting her best friend, not her best, best friend but one of them. By the time the first round of refreshments is carted down the aisle, you know her second husband's last name and what her current husband does for a living. He's a cat behavior consultant. I'd say don't ask but likely you never did. Once the landing gear is released she pauses and says "Oh, I'm Nancy by the way". You want to shout, "Nancy, for the love of Christ, stop, my ears are bleeding!" But instead you say, "My name is Jessica" and wait for her to list every Jessica she has ever known since birth, while the plane slowly pulls up to the gate.
5. Scaredy Cat: She is identified by her silence, lack of color from her cheeks and the way she wildly studies the emergency pamphlet in the seatback pocket. In her mind she is not making it off of this plane, so prepare to hear a laundry list of her end of life confessions. There will be crying. The inside of your thigh will be grabbed, bruised and bloodied, depending on how skilled your pilot is at dodging air pockets.
6. Mile High Members: We all know what is happening under that thin blue blanket, barely covering your laps. A plan is covertly discussed in whispers until one of the two heads to the bathroom. Moments later, the lover follows. This is never as discreet as they think it is. If having sex in disturbingly close proximity to a toilet is what it takes to get into a club, count me out.
7. Sullen Stewardess: This profession requires a constant smile and comforting demeanor because the clientele is terrified, unruly or generally unsatisfied. After a decade of turbulence and terrorists, I can understand sore cheeks and heightened nervous system. "Good Morning" they say with blank stares, their chins lowered. "No you can't switch seats. Turn off your phone, now. There is no smoking on this flight, or any flight since 1971." The hair on their neck stands at attention when the attendant light dings, alerting them that they are needed. Again. The TV screen doesn't work, my seat won't recline, where is that vodka tonic I ordered 45 seconds ago? The answer--she drank it. After dealing with the passengers listed above, can you blame her?