The Annoying Seatmate (Trip Report)

There are only so many times I can fly between Long Beach and Phoenix and actually keep you interested, so I realize I need to shake it up. I’m in Phoenix for Honeywell’s media day right now, so I haven’t had time to finish a couple of more in-depth posts that I’m working on. Instead, let’s talk about my obnoxious seatmate.

[Disclosure: This trip was paid for by Honeywell.]

I flew US Airways out of Long Beach, of course. You’ve seen enough LGB photos looking out on the ramp here, but what about this view of the historic main terminal looking back from the concourse? I love this airport.

Long Beach Airport Terminal

As usual, I left home an hour before departure, sailed through security, and had time to kill at the gate. I was amazed how quickly they turned the airplane around, and we were boarding almost immediately. I stayed back and boarded toward the end. That’s when things got weird.

May 20, 2014
US Airways Express 2824 Lv Long Beach 435p Arr Phoenix 553p (operated by Mesa)
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Depart 3m Early
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B19, Runway 25L, Arrive 1m Early
N914FJ, Bombardier CRJ-900, Standard US Airways colors, ~80% Full
Seat 8A, Coach
Flight Time 58m

I got on the airplane and two flight attendants were standing in the forward galley gabbing with each other, completely ignoring the boarding passengers. One of them was busy talking about how she shops at Macy’s online, but she can’t follow what fashion is in and what’s out. She started talking about bell bottoms, and one of the guys boarding behind me said somewhat sarcastically, “So are those in or out?” She then proceeded to tell him that they’re out now, but some other stuff was in.

I got back to my seat and someone was sitting in it. I looked at him and said with a faint smile, “I believe that’s my seat.” He said, “Yeah it is, but do you mind if I keep my bag here?” I looked down and saw a large bag taking up the entire floor area. “Yeah, I do mind,” I said, “because I need a place for my computer bag.” (I didn’t say it, but I really didn’t want it blocking my legs.) I asked why he didn’t just put it in the overhead bin. He said it wouldn’t fit.

After that, he started looking around for a place to put it. (Apparently, in the belly of the aircraft wasn’t an option.) There was an empty row a couple rows back, so he shoved it under there.

We pushed back and started taxiing when the flight attendants finally came through the cabin. The Macy’s-lover belted out, “whose bag is this?” My seatmate said it was his, and she said it couldn’t stay there because it didn’t fit underneath. He then got up (remember, we are moving down the taxiway) to get his bag, and she immediately told him to park it. So he did.

The flight attendant was now in a tough position, because she had to find a place for this big bag. So what did she do? She took the bag and strapped it in with a seatbelt in an empty window seat. Problem solved, and my seatmate was happy. I pulled out my phone and started reading, but that didn’t deter him.

“How long is this flight?”
“About an hour.”
“Wow, that’s fast. Does this airplane go really fast?”
“It’s not really any faster than other jets.”

We took off and then banked around Long Beach as usual on what was a beautiful day. He, not being from Southern California, was really excited about the view out the window. He looked over me and decided to take a photo. No problem; I can understand the enthusiasm. Then he decided to ask me to take a photo for him. I did, he looked at it, decided it was blurry, and asked me to take another one. This happened at multiple points during the flight. I probably took 10 photos.

I was still trying to read on my phone but he didn’t take the hint. I learned all kinds of things about him, his job as an accountant, his dating life. Oh it was just delightful. Then I learned that Marc Anthony earns $1.25 million a month. (I have no idea if that’s true or false, or why he felt compelled to tell me that, but I did find it strange that he had to use the calculator on his phone to figure out what that was annually. Remember, he’s an accountant.)

At this point, he asked what I did and started trying to surf the web on his phone. I told him he wasn’t allowed to use his mobile connection in flight, and he looked at me as if this was the most shocking news ever. He turned it in airplane mode.

By this point, were were just about over Arizona, and I was ready to jump out the window. Everything I did elicited a comment. When the flight attendant came by with drinks, I ordered a water.

“You don’t drink soda?”

There was no escape. Shortly after, the flight attendant ran over his foot with the cart. She grumbled, “I keep running over your foot… because you keep leaving it in the aisle.” That just prompted him to take on a different topic, but it certainly didn’t quiet him.

We began descending into Phoenix, and I was ecstatic. Somewhere near final approach, he exclaimed, “there, it finally works again!” He had turned off airplane mode and was surfing the web via his mobile network. He only took a break to ask me to take another picture for him.

Near landing, he asked me for my card, but I really didn’t want to give it to him. I told him my cards were in my bag up in the bin, so I couldn’t get it until later. (The seatbelt sign never went off despite the flight being smooth.) We landed and I couldn’t have been happier to get off that airplane. He had forgotten about the card, and seemingly got distracted when, as we walked out of the jet bridge, he saw a woman bending over repacking her clothes.

I took that as my cue, and I hit the road.

This can’t be the worst seatmate story out there (it was only an hour flight after all). Let’s hear yours.

Update: The return was uneventful, so I won’t be writing that one up. Instead, I’ll just put my details here.

May 20, 2014
US Airways 566 Lv Phoenix 1015a Arr Long Beach 1137a
Phoenix (PHX): Gate A7, Runway 7L, Depart 1m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 3m Early
N830AW, Airbus A319-132, Standard US Airways colors, ~99% Full
Seat 13F, Coach
Flight Time 59m

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