Thursday, August 17, 2006

Attention Passengers

I've taken advantage of my recent trip overseas to expound on my keen observations about the archetypes of the various airline passengers that make our trips so much more enjoyable. Some may interpret this as a trite rehash of a tired 'complaining about airline travel' bit but this trip I took featured such an interesting array of the typical traveler types I feel compelled to comment. So you can appreciate the backdrop for my data gatherings, I was headed from San Francisco to Singapore on a flight that left at 1:30 am, which should of course yield maximum sleepage time. Ah, in theory it should, if it weren't for:

The Snorter: The snorter is the person who is either unable or unwilling to blow their nose like the average human being and instead resorts to persistent loud sniffling in order to further compact their sinuses. Like a fog horn on a misty shore, the snorter can easily be located in the dark on a plane full of quiet, sleeping passengers based on their consistent snorting that is timed to occur just as you are able to return to your slumber.

The Bouncer: Like a washing machine permanently stuck on its spin cycle, the bouncer excels in maintaining constant motion throughout the duration of the flight. Whether vertical or side to side motion, the agitation engine of the bouncer never grows tired and can never be satisified for more than a five second stretch. When paired in the body of the oft seen "Extra Large Passenger" the Bouncer can deliver a flying experience for his/her seatmates that can only be rivaled by a vibrating bed similiar to those used at the "finest" hotels. And, when the bouncer comes in the form of a teenager, its bouncing routine is periodically interrupted in order to frantically scour through carry on luggage at top speed and volume, presumably to obtain a vital object such medicine, a AAA battery or a half eaten pack of Skittles.

The Loud Talker: When waiting in line to use a bathroom in a dark plane full of sleeping people many would believe the proper behavior is to silently mutter to oneself about how you'll never eat chicken fried steak on an airplane again no matter how good it smells. Not the loud talker. The loud talker feels compelled to share their insightful comments on how different Hong Kong will be as compared to Kansas ("I've heard theres a lot of Chinese people there"), dispense expertise / travel tips despite this being their first intercontinental flight and offer up a brief summary of family goings on to those waiting with them for the bathroom. Like a young child armed with a bullhorn, the loud talker quickly helps those engaging in relatively unproductive activities like sleeping quickly regain an alert state so they can work on completing their 53rd consecutive crossword puzzle.

The Mega-Recliner: Also known as the "laptop crusher", the mega-recliner sees it as their God given right to take advantage of every single inch of reclining capability that their airline seat offers. The true mega-recliner often reveals themself in the first few moments of flight when they nudge the seat into a slight recline to engage in a clever game of cat and mouse with the patrolling flight attendants. Will they be ordered to bring the seat to a full and upright position prior to take off? Or will they achieve their dreamed state of lumbar relaxation a full 10 minutes before those around them are able to enjoy similar reclination? Regardless, once the flight is underway the mega recliner moves to what they do best, namely applying maximum force to the seat in order to extract the the most recline-related pleasure as possible. The manuever is typically executed at the worst possible moment for the person behind them, as the mega recliner possesses a 6th sense that allows them to know just the right time to apply their crushing force. Therefore the recliner knows just when the person behind them is leaning forward so, like a prize fighter delivering their knock out blow, they connect their seatback to your forehead.

Well at least then you can get some sleep.