Travel interludes (II): Skip human rights for a moment and talk about things that bug be when traveling by plane

3 AM, Delhi Transfer Lounge

My internal clock is telling me it’s still yesterday. I’ve been in the Delhi transfer lounge for 3 hours now, and still have 3 more to go. That’s not all that bad; coming back home, I have 8 hours in this dive. There are about a hundred standard airport chairs and a dozen slightly fancier ones which are supposed to me feel more comfortable, but once again, I’m sitting in a chair designed for someone a foot shorter than me. 

The lights are glaring and fluorescent; there are no shops because we’re in limbo in this transfer lounge. The only kiosk is selling expensive Coke and Fanta and samosas that look like they’ve been wilting in their glass prison for far too long. It’s relatively quiet at this time of night, with the exception of one hell of an annoying child running amok piercing the air with a gut-wrenching squeal every few minutes. He ran into the women’s toilet, emerged and yelled: “GGGRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” waking up anyone within a 200 m radius.

Air travel sucks. There’s no other way to put it. Perhaps I’m becoming a curmudgeon after 250 flights and several weeks of my life over the past years spent in airports or airplanes. It’s just not fun. Yesterday as I made my way to the gate in Montreal I heard my name being paged, the first time that’s ever happened. Maybe they were boosting me to first class! Alas, no: they warned me that I needed a visa to transfer in India. Thankfully they were wrong.

The Swiss Air flights I took had enough legroom, but the seats were so tight that I had to get out of my seat to access the remote to change the channel. On a few occasions I’d be watching a crappy movie and it would pause: the girth of my body would accidentally push the buttons on the remote.

Something which surprised me about the first Swiss Air flight was how LOUD those Swiss folks are. A boisterous bunch behind me wouldn’t shut up for hours, hooting and laughing away. It prompted me to think of some of the more annoying things I’ve had to deal with in air travel. Here’s a first stab:
  1. If you’re sitting by the bulkhead, don’t take off your shoes and socks and slap your feet on the wall. The airline folks want you to feel at home, but not that much.
  2. Don’t use your airline blanket to sneeze into. Bad.
  3. Do your best not to fart. You may think that the air is being recirculated, but not enough. Furthermore, you may think that there is enough engine noise that people won’t hear you rip one, but again, that would be an incorrect assumption.
  4. Flush the toilet after you finish. I’m not asking a lot, am I?
  5. At least wait until the plane’s hit cruising altitude before you put your seat back. And even then, please consider the person behind you whose legs may already be crushed by the lack of space.
  6. Don’t pick your toenails either. Oh, that was a memorable flight sitting next to you, wasn’t it?
  7. Just because a cleaning crew comes by after to clean up does not give you a reason to put as much garbage as possible on the floor.
  8. Please bathe before boarding. And hold off on the perfume or cologne.
  9. When you’re boarding a plane and you find out that your seat is the middle one between me and another man, try not to tell the flight attendant: “This seat is a problem. I don’t want to sit next to two men” right in front of me. My feelings!
  10. When people are trying to sleep in a transit lounge, don’t have your little runt of a kid run around screaming GRRRAAAH!

Ow. More body parts are hurting now. However annoying air travel can be, it does have its perks. Earlier today I saw the sun rise over the Swiss Alps, and in a few hours I will see the sunrise over the Himalayas. 

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