The Annoying Seatmate (Trip Report)

Trip Reports, US Airways

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

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

58 comments on “The Annoying Seatmate (Trip Report)

  1. Why don’t you drink soda?!? Are you anti-fizz?

    I’ve found a few ways to avoid this kind of thing:

    1. Put headphones on as soon as I as I sit and am belted in. Wear them all flight long, even if not listening to music or watching iPad.

    2. If the headphones don’t work, I have been known to say: “Sorry. I don’t really talk on airplanes.” Yes, a partially dick move, but it works. And I’d rather be a bit rude to someone to enjoy my flight vs. listening to the kind of babble you just described.

  2. Oh Southwest….

    You think you want that seat next to my 6’5″ 225lb frame? Muwahwhahaha….

    First, you will have to get through challenges:

    a) My complete apathy to your existence
    b) Armrests are not for you when I can’t help the fact my shoulders are significantly wider than 17 inches
    c) Sudden, uncontrollable coughing and/or sneezing and nose blowing. I probably have something very serious
    d) I will not move my stuff in that seat unless you actually ask
    e) I will then glare at you, open up some cuttlefish sandwich bites, and proceed to douse it in Sriracha
    f) Yes, my iPad is more interesting than you. No
    g) No, you can’t watch it also. Anti-glare/Anti-Annoying neighbor shield is great for this.
    h) Enjoy your flight.

  3. Please…that’s nothing compared to my seatmate on a TZ HOU-LGA flight several years ago. First, being TZ, the flight was delayed by a couple of hours, which already put me in a bad mood making my planned 18 hour day closer to 21. But then I get on board and find my aisle seat and find a mid-40s blonde in the window position. She is wearing a too-small cami and short cut off jean shorts. Her hair is disheveled, she smells like a mixture of alcohol and sweat, and she is crying. I really didn’t want to say anything to her at all, but I couldn’t help myself to ask her if she’s ok. I then got a story that I don’t completely remember, but was remarkably incoherent. What I do remember is that I said something like, “I’m sure it will all be ok” and she turned, smiled, and said “You are so nice. Are you Santa Claus?” (Cue the “Psycho” music in my head).

    Then the FAs asked everyone to turn off their cell phones. Being a trip to NY, there was an apparent Russian mafia man (wearing the track suit and everything) across the aisle from me talking loudly in Russian on his phone. My crazy seat mate yells “Hey, they said to turn of your phone.” He turns, looks and says “Mind your own business.” She screams “TURN OFF YOUR F*ING PHONE OR WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!” He says “Shut your F*ing mouth.” By then the FA had approached and asked the gentlemen to turn off his phone. My seatmate gave him a look of satisfaction and did all but stick out her tongue at him.

    After we were allowed electronics, I pulled out my noise cancelling headphones in hopes of creating the mental illusion of not being in the position I was. That worked for about 20 minutes, when still sobbing, my seatmate decides to LAY DOWN across the middle and window seats…the top of her head resting against my leg. With mental images of various parasites making the journey from one person to another, I combed the cabin for another open seat. I see an open aisle seat in the very last row, so I get up (bumping her head in the process) and say “How about I give you a little more room?” She says “Oh you are so nice to me” as I’m walking down the aisle.

    Another almost scary one was on a BA flight from LHR back to the US. I was seated in the middle seat in coach between an elderly couple. I was immediately alerted to how bad my situation was when they both had their seat back televisions tuned to Fox News. After I got settled, the wife turns to me and says “You’re not a democrat, are you?” I chuckled nervously and replied, “no of course not.” She then asked me if I might find another seat so that “you could be more comfortable.” Right. But I knew I had to get out of there so I found an aisle seat in the middle section 2 rows back.

    Everything was fine until during cruise the woman sitting in front of the old man tries to recline her seat. He immediately puts his knees up against the back of her seat and his hands at the back of her head rest as if to push the seat forward and keep it from reclining. The poor woman in front thought that her seat wasn’t operating correctly and made multiple attempts to recline. He kept pushing back hard. Finally she called over the FA to ask about her seat and the FA noticed what he was doing, and asked him to let her recline. He refused…saying he doesn’t have enough room when she reclines. They went back and forth until finally he relented. However, as soon as the FA left, he began punching and kneeing the back of the seat which caused the woman to start shouting at him. I thought for sure that there was going to be a physical altercation and we would be diverting to Iceland or something similar. The FAs finally made him calm down, but he continued to give small shots to the back of the seat for the rest of the flight. It was a long 10 hours…but thankfully for me I at least got out of that middle seat.

    1. I’m always behind the Full Stretch Recliner. Seats should not be able to recline – not enough room. It’s really inconsiderate to recline your sear on an airplane.

      When not behind the in-your-lap recliner “hope you didn’t want to read a book, have a drink or use your tray for anything like work” person, I’m next to the “fall asleep on your shoulder and drool” person. Occasionally I’m next to “I have a visible foot fungus so I’m just going to take these shoes off for 6 hours so you can smell my agony” person.

      I tend to pay a little extra to sit behind the (non reclining) exit rows or in the bulkhead row. ;)

      1. Oh! A favorite flight was on Southwest – couple going through a divorce chose to sit with me in the middle, then proceeded to lean over me on a 100% full flight and scream at each other for the entire journey. That was stressful.

      2. I just flew Phoenix – Kona on USAirways in Row 1 and didn’t recline my seat for the shear FACT of knowing how tight it can be for the person behind me… plus, is 2″ of recline REALLY going to make it a shorter 6 hour flight?

        I’ve also noticed that many of my fellow MVP/MVP Gold seatmates in First Class on Alaska also don’t recline much. I noticed this on a growing number of flights, especially those in which people are working. I even went as far as to give the person in front of me a goodie bag for NOT reclining her seat on a Seattle – Chicago flight once.. I left a note and the goodies on her tray table “Thank you for not reclining your seat — I’ve been able to get a lot of work done – from 3C, uber frequent flyer”

        she turned around and said “I hate it too… and thank you for the goodies”.

      3. I was in First on a Delta flight a few weeks back and when the person in front of me reclined, the seat went back so far as to give me a great view of his scalp. I think it was broken, as it was ridiculously far into my space, especially for First Class.

  4. A few years back flying LHR-LAX on NZ in premium economy (which is pretty darn good BTW) in a window seat. The middle aged gentleman in the aisle next to me must have eaten something particularly rank and disagreeable to his alimentary canal the night before because he was passing gas about every 15 minutes the entire flight. Valiant efforts to divert the noxious stream coming from his direction were to no avail. I turned up the air nozzle to full blast and pointed towards the aisle, used the safety card as a fan covered my face with the blanket… nothing worked.

    Poor guy – he must have been very embarrassed. It was if there a was small dead animal in the seat next to me. Owing to the seating offset of the NZ prem econ config fortunately we didn’t need to be face to face. A slight consolation. Talk about gut wrenching turbulence!

  5. I had a very distant relative with the same uncommon last name get upgraded to first because the gate agent thought we were traveling together. My new 7th cousin regaled me with stories about relatives I’ve never met (and never will). Fortunately, it was only a 2 hour flight.

    I’ve endured the extra girth seatmate a few times. The first time, on American, I took my book and went to the galley. This was Before the World Got Stupid™ and the FAs let me use the aft jump seat until we began the descent. A few years ago, it happened on a completely full Chicago to London flight on UA. The FAs wouldn’t let me loiter around the galley and there were no empty seats, so I attempted to sleep, shoved against the bulkhead for the duration. Both times, my seatmate lifted the armrest and now I know to demand it stay lowered.

  6. If you annoying seatmate was an accountant, you should have asked him to figure out how much money you will need to save each year to put two kids through college given their current ages. That should have kept him busy for the flight to PHX…

  7. I was on a PHX-HNL flight on ATA (I miss them!). I’m in an aisle seat, and there is a strange woman in the aisle seat across from me. She evidently won the trip as a prize, had no hotel, was going to look for a place at the airport. She grabbed the male FA by his butt, he didn’t like that. Later, I fell into a nice relaxing sleep, only to be shaken awake by her, saying “you were asleep with your mouth open!” I gave her the glare from hell, and firmly told her to never touch me again.

    All went well for the next few hours, when the FA got on the speaker “someone has been smoking a cigarette in the restroom…” and explained the law, etc. I immediately turned to look at her, she was cowering and red as a tomato.

    Not sure if they caught her, I didn’t want to narc her out, I had a connection flight and I was non rev, so I didn’t have time to fill out any paperwork…

  8. If a seatmate is annoyingly chatty, I tell them that I’m a nervous flier, and that I need to stay quiet to avoid becoming physically unwell. That usually shuts them up. If I’m really lucky, I end up with an empty seat next to me.

  9. I will never forget my first nonrev trip to PIT. I sat in my window seat and noticed a 4 year old girl in the middle seated next to a businessman type in the aisle. The businessman was very obviously not her father. I looked around for her parents or an FA to rectify things and heard a voice from the seat behind me calmly say “oh that’s my daughter.” I turned and offered my window for the mother’s middle and mom straight up refused to do so. Since i was “representing the company” by traveling on my privileges, I didn’t force the issue. Once we pushed, I found out why mom wasn’t too eager to sit next to her daughter. The little girl clutched a plastic ballerina doll which she proceeded to jab me with mercilessly over the course of the flight. When I tried to distract her by swapping seats so she could look out the window, she responded by asking a myriad of questions- each punctuated by a stab to my arm from the ballerina’s pointed toes. When we arrived at the gate, the mom half whispered over the seat “now that was two hours of the best birth control ever.” I couldn’t disagree.

  10. I can’t top your story but I have learned to always take a pair of ear buds along just for such times.
    Just stuff the plug ins in your pocket and read or work in silence. (Of course if the do-do asks
    what you’re listening to, you may have to improvise).

    1. A court ordered book on anger management, stemming from an issue in which people didn’t leave me alone when flying on airplanes?

  11. Not me, but my wife: traveling to Cairo via Paris to join me there she had a very drunk seat-mate in business who told her he was in the oil business. He wore cowboy boots and matching hat. After take-off he proceeded to continue to drink through the dinner service. When everybody went to sleep, he turned on his headset, tuned into a channel that played Elvis’ greatest hits on a loop, which he proceeded to sing along to. Loudly. Eventually, after my wife’s and an FA’s urging, he went to sleep…

    I one flew on a plane from Shanghai to Tokyo where I was the only Western passenger. They served noodles. I have NEVER ever heard such coordinated and loud slurping. Ever!

  12. Brett, over at your seatmate’s blog ( I bet he’s going on and on about what a nice guy he sat next to.

  13. When I bought my first pair of Bose “Noise Cancelling” headphones, I thought it was because they would cancel the noise of jet engines. Little did I know that the main function was to cancel the noise of talkative seat mates. I slip those little wonders on at the start of each flight, run the cord down inside my jacket (don’t even bother with an i-Pod any longer) and just give people a questioning look if they try to talk to me. Works like a charm.

  14. Two stories for you, both recent!

    You remember how they shut down air traffic control over LAX a few weeks ago? Yeah, I was stuck on a Southwest flight on the tarmac for almost three hours. For two hours of the delay, the woman next to me decided it would be an opportune time to file her nails. FOR TWO HOURS.

    For the second story, let’s turn to my return from India yesterday, via Frankfurt. Lufthansa upgraded me to business class during the BOM to FRA segment, which was wonderful. About halfway through the flight, however, the very elderly couple across the aisle from me had something to take care of. Apparently the gentleman didn’t have the physical capacity to get to the bathroom a couple of rows back, so his wife changed his diaper in the aisle, in full view of the rest of us.

  15. British Airways, LHR-KUL, 1995, on my way to the IATA AGM. Was in business class. When the seatbelt light went off, a guy sat down in the empty seat next to me. I don’t know where he came from. But I soon discerned that it was probably the nearest sewer. The guy reeked. I’m talking seriously bad odor like you would not believe. Like maybe he never took a bath in his life. Like nothing I have smelled before or since. He smelled, OK? I called the purser over and said, “Just lean down a bit and take a whiff.” He did, and he flinched, and said, “Oh dear. But we can’t move you because the flight is full.” I’m thinking, great, this is a 12-hour flight, and this will not get better. So I said, “Keep bringing me beers until I pass out.” And he did. It was a special circumstance. Sewer Man was completely oblivious. Almost 20 years later, I still feel traumatized when I think about it.

  16. I was flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to Atlanta, which was a 22 hour flight. I was in coach in a middle seat, between two men who kicked and elbowed me the entire flight. The one on the aisle side was my dad, and the window seat guy was an extremely irritating jerk who kept telling me he really wanted the aisle seat instead of the window seat, and wanted me to convince my dad to change seats with him. My dad had already told him (in no uncertain terms) before the flight took off that he wasn’t going to change seats.

    The window jerk was Chinese, and smelled mightily of Chinese food (which I loathe). He had a 17″ laptop full of very load video games, which he refused to play with either headphones or with the volume turned down. He also had several back-up batteries so he would have a highly functioning machine the entire flight. If the load noises from the video games weren’t enough, he was also adding his own sound affects, as well as laughing loudly and talking to himself (when he wasn’t asking me to have my dad trade seats with him. This happened approximately 50 times during the flight). When he tired of playing his games, he amused himself by whistling. No chance to move because every seat on the plane was taken.

    He managed to spill every drink he got (on me and everywhere but his laptop), and produced more crumbs with his meal and stinky, brought from home snacks, than toddlers can. The elbow jabs and kicks were constant. Naturally he had no manners or common sense; when I complained to him that he was beating me up, he either ignored me or stared for a few seconds before saying again that he really wanted the aisle seat.

    This flight was the closest I’ve come to committing murder. Pretty sure had I throttled him, the passengers near me and at least one flight attendant would have tried to help me finish him off.

  17. UA LGA-ORD: The woman seated next to me in 1st started chatting with me innocently enough. However, about every third answer I’d give, she’d go “I have to remember this.” She’d then put her face in her hands, turn towards the window and concentrate for 10 seconds. She’d then turn back to me and go “let me see if I got this right.” Inevitably she didn’t. I’d correct her, and she’d repeat the window concentration thing. After probably 10 minutes of this, the flight attendant came over to me and said “didn’t you say you had some work you had to do?” I actually had planned on reading some leisure material on the flight but given this life rope, I wasn’t going to let it pass. The woman apologized for interrupting me. End of interruption. Of course, I had to work for another hour but that was definitely the lesser of two evils.

  18. Better make sure your concierges don’t seat me next to some of your other clients, Cranky – I watch Fox News AND I LOVE Chinese food! (Maybe because I am half Chinese?) I did not realize they were such reliable indicators for Annoying Seatmates ;-D

    1. VDC – I didn’t know he was going to be annoying until we were on our way. The seatbelt sign never came off and it was only an hour flight, so I didn’t bother.

  19. Attendee of some herbal supplement/miracle cure/multi level marketing convention trying to pitch me her scam the whole way. I tried every trick in the book to tune her out, but she still found a way to remind me several times “its patented!”

  20. I don’t have anyone on a aircraft that bad but once on a train this guy just wouldn’t shut up talking about trains how he was a train spotter and knew all about trains and the crews etc. I then opened my aircraft magazine tried to read it but failed as he then went on about what he knew about aircraft. Then the he went on about his job driving camper vans to Auckland the whole thing went on for a hour and half. The most awful 90 mins I have ever spent on a train . As I went to get off at my stop a fellow passenger said to me “I would told the guy to shut the F…. up myself” I said ” I work with idiots like that I am used to people talking rubbish” .

  21. Did you, at any point, tell him to stop bothering you?

    Some people, especially males, don’t take indirect hints. You have to be clear and direct. A firm but polite “don’t bother me” works wonders.

    1. Jim – I didn’t. Had it been a longer flight, I would have said something but I figured this was short enough that it wasn’t worth it.

  22. (1) ear buds
    (2) I have told people I’m on my way to my brother’s memorial service so I’m not really in the mood to talk. It’s a mean-spirited, crappy lie, but boy, it works.
    (3) On a Southwest flight from ABQ to BWI, I was in the back row window seat; the middle seat was empty; I was so excited about a good flight with an empty seat. Then, right before the door closed, a very large woman sat next to me, and without asking, she raised the armrest. I don’t want to be a jerk but she really should have bought two seats because I squished between her and the window. Then the flatulence started. It was probably embarrassing, so I don’t want to be a jerk again, but she said something about her daughter’s cooking, and passed terrible gas the rest of the flight. Then she pulled out her disc man (it was 2001) and sang along to Reba.

  23. I have had a couple of really bad experiences, both in the F cabin on British Airways. One night
    in the late 1980’s I flew LAX-LHR, and most of the F cabin was Phil Collins and his entourage. I was unlucky enough to end up with the seat next to the Nanny, who was looking after Phil Collins’s infant. The kid screamed most of the way to London. As the pursed politely commented, not the experience I was paying for.

    The other incident was in the early 1990’s, also on BA in the F cabin from LAX-LHR. The lady sitting next to me was the wife of very prominent member of New Zealand Parliment on her way from Auckland to London . In the course of the night she managed to spill 3 different beverages on me.

  24. Sounds like you had your very own Planes, Trains & Automobiles experience ;)

    I’ve never had the luxury of an annoying seatmate. However I did see some guy get kicked off a plane for refusing to stop talking on their cell phone during take off. That transition from pure obstinate behavior to begging, once the plane started taxing back to the gate, was quite amusing

  25. LA to Sydney – I had a seatmate who had been denied the earlier departure because she was too drunk to fly. I had the aisle and she got up every hour to use the restroom. Every thirty minutes, she’d wake me up to show me an interesting ad in one of her fashion magazines. Neither headphones nor sleeping deterred her. But, the absolute worst part of the experience was when she woke me up, yelled for a flight attendant to find her some vegemite, then forced me to try it straight out of the jar.

    Now, when I don’t want anyone to talk to me and the headphones aren’t enough of a hint, I just switch to a different language and claim no knowledge of English. I’ve tried that twice (successfully) and the annoying seatmate never picked up on the fact that my English miraculously improves when the drink cart comes around.

  26. My worst was definitely US from MSP-LAS. Southwest may have its faults but I love the sober up before you board rule. Because on this flight 3 girls on the row behind got the party started a little early. It started with singing leaving on a jet plane of takeoff and talking about that they were so excited to be going to Vegas that their “lady parts” were twitching with excitement. And they kept up their loud “earbuds with the ipod volume at max couldn’t do it talking the whole 3 hour flight. Until 15 minutes before we land a flight attendant had enough and told them that they would sit there and be quiet for the remainder of the flight so that the rest of the plane can have 15 minutes of peace. Loved it and the didn’t say a word for the remainder.

    Another fun one was LUV from PHX-PIT. I had dislocated my kneecap while on vacation and was in a leg brace that only let me bend my leg so far. Because of that the only seat on the plane I could sit in was the left Isle bulkhead seat. So knowing this, I was put in the front of the preboard line in front of a bunch of irrated seniors. And I had 3 wheelchairs behind me. So I took my seat and the wheelchairs took the right front row. And this senior couple got on. The husband told me that I need to scoot to the window because he always sits in the Isle. I politely told him my situation and that he could sit in the row behind me and I promise to not recline. I’m 6’4” so I don’t anyway because I hate it when others do it to me. He was visibly not happy that I didn’t give up my seat. But then his wife said to sit in the front window seat because she wanted the leg room. He did but I don’t think I have ever gotten a dirtier look from a senior, not even my grandparents lol.

    1. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I thought it was a Federal Safety Regulation that passengers couldn’t board while drunk, and all airlines had to enforce that rule. (e.g. You must be sober enough to be able to get yourself off the plane in an accident.) Perhaps WN just enforces it more strongly?

      Are there any FAs, Gate Agents or other folks who know more?

  27. STORY 1: On a flight from Traverse City MI to Detroit in a smaller plane (wasn’t as interested then in model). There was a woman (won’t call her a lady) who first wouldn’t turn off her cell, then actually lit up her cigarette during the flight and bent over to smoke it. We were all pointing fingers and trying to let the FA know what was up, but it seemed to take quite a while for her to catch on. In the interim, stupid lady was laughing and poking her teenage daughter and making fun of the FA, who couldn’t figure out why it smelled like smoke.

    When the plane started descent, the FA told the lady that she needed to stay on board while the rest of us deplaned. Spoiled, entitled lady said, “No Thanks” and hopped off the minute we landed.

    STORY 2: USAir FA nice enough to allow hubby to sit in the ONE open first class seat (PHX-ANC) during supper service, then let us swap so I’d have space to sleep the rest of the flight. As we’re changing, he mentions that the guy next to him seems nice and is from Texas. “Nice Guy” proceeds to chatter my ear off the entire remainder of the flight about his ex-wife, girlfriend, the oil business (he’s from Texas) and just about anything else that had EVER popped in his head. Upon landing, I asked hubby why he hadn’t warned me about the chatting (I GOT NO SLEEP!) and he said, ‘That’s weird, the guy didn’t say 2 words to me while I was up there.” Oh. Lucky. Me.

    STORY 3: A cautionary tale about handing out buddy passes and the worst seatmate that none of us had to sit with:

    In DTW waiting for a flight back to PHX. Only one stand-by seat left and a woman and her teenage son (with buddy passes in hand) are wanting to head back to PHX more than anything in the world. When the gate agent gives the last seat to someone else, the lady goes OFF. She screamed at him that she’d been waiting for three days, was trying to get to her father’s funeral and that the last gate agent had promised her she’d get on this flight. All at the top of her lungs. The gate agent finally told her that if she needed to get back that badly, she should head to the Southwest ticket counter as the last flight was leaving in 10 minutes and that he felt sorry for whoever gave her the USAir buddy passes because he was going to file the paperwork to have their flight privileges suspended for a year. So now, every time I think I’ll come unglued at a GA, FA or random passenger, I imagine not flying for a year, sit down and shut up!

  28. I sat next to a drunk, stanky, smelly, sleepy and obnoxious Norwegian Drunk Guy from Munich to Los Angeles on Lufthansa for 12 hours. 12 agonizing hours of drunken terror. The guy was sleeping and yelling in his dreams like he was Chewbaca. Those YYYAARRRRRGGGGG!!! screams is an imprint on my mind for all time since April 2009 and in this full flight, everyone didn’t like the guy. He reeked the plane of urine by the drips of his pants. The flight attendants were nice, but they’d get points if they, like, kick him out of the plane. At the baggage claim in LAX, I had sympathetic thanks from the rest of the passengers near me. I now make it a mission to find obnoxious drunks on a flight going for more than 3 hours.

  29. I recently took a trip on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from Portland to Los Angles with my wife for our honeymoon. We were in sleeper cabins and every afternoon around 2pm, the Coast Starlight has a wine and cheese meet n’ greet for sleeping car passengers only (I’ve heard Amtrak has recently done away with this nice small touch for budgetary reasons). Anyway, it’s a dreary, rainy Oregon afternoon outside so there’s not much to look at out the windows on what is normally phenomenal scenery. Our train is stopped somewhere around Eugene because some hobo/meth tweaker got hit by a freight train on the tracks to our south and thus shut down both directions of the Union Pacific mainline we were traveling on. Anyway, there’s a crunchy college professor from Vancouver who starts to tell tales of her pan-sexuality to my wife and I, not to mention some of the other passengers (at least not the really elderly ones). By this point, everybody’s had 3-4 glasses of complimentary Amtrak (actually decent local OR and WA vinyards) wine, so of course with that, there’s a lot of ‘freeing of the tongues’.
    She seems really intent on sharing some deep-down details of her sexual history, and then her husband joins in too. I got the feeling they were looking for some 15-foot club (Amtrak superliner sleeper cabin is ~15 ft. above the tracks, versus the ‘mile high’ club) group action with other people. To answer what you’re probably thinking….ewwww. Just, no. We did not take the bait (not that we’re prudes or anything). Eventually somebody complained to the conductor about their shocking confessions and topicality, so the prof and her husband went back to their cabin and we barely saw them again during meals–nary to hear another peep out of them.

    I take a long-distance Amtrak trip every few years and I have a sense that there are families that have no problem with putting ‘crazy’ Uncle Al or whomever the person who may have a substance/personality/psychological disorder on Amtrak–they would be hesitant to put them on a commercial airplane because that person is likely to end up face down in the aisle with an FAM on top of them and a free visit to a federal courtroom in the aftermath. The worst that would happen with an incident on Amtrak might be where a conductor (who has authority similar to a chief pilot—not the engineer… the engineer is paid to operate the locomotive) would radio/call the local police/sheriff in whatever area the train is traveling in and off-board that passenger at the next stop (sometimes not even a stop–just a highway crossing if it’s a serious or pressing matter). I’ve witnessed Amtrak conductors calling the P.D. somewhere during the middle of the night in Ohio after warning a belligerent drunk two-to-three times to sit down and be quiet. Most Amtrak staff are serious as a heart attack when it comes to misbehaving passengers.

  30. Try being seated next to Tiny Tim on two different international flights. One in 1976 and the other in 1983, both in first class on Pan Am. The first was on a Pan Am 707 multi-stopper, before the days of nonstop service, that went from LAX to HNL then to Pago Pago (or was in Nadi, Fiji?) then to AKL before landing in SYD about 30+ hours later. (All upright sets back then, no sleeper seats) and the second up top on a 14.5 hour nonstop 747SP trip. Both times, he was spooky and was nothing like his persona on TV (thank gawd). He didn’t talk much, though his lack of personal hygiene and deodorant did the talking for him. Even his shirt cuffs were filthy. When he did speak, the topic always turned to baseball. When he was not speaking or reading, he would look around the cabin with looks that were frightful. The old term, “shooting daggers” for him was the way he naturally looked at people. No wonder “Miss Vicki” didn’t stick around past the first anniversary.” After we deplaned, I’m sure they had to fumigate the cabin to rid it of his still lingering aroma. That was the worse seatmate (both times) and there have been way to many to count that came in second place. On the flip side, I was once seated next to Tony Bennett on the Concorde between LHR to JFK in the late 80s. When he sat down next to me, he immediately made eye contact, extended his hand and introduced himself; and then asked my name. Throughout the entire flight, he’d address me by my first name whenever we spoke. Talk about knowing how to build rapport with a stranger.

  31. $1.25 million a month and flies coach? And he is an accountant? Couldn’t spring for first class?

    Must be one hell of an accountant. . . .perhaps I am in the wrong profession. . . . . .

  32. So I dint have a bad seat mate but I had a bad one behind me one. We boarded a Delta 767-400 red-eye flight from HNL-LAX. We were seated at the 2nd boarding door. I had my bag in the over head as the flight attendant asked to see my ticket cause normally we are boarded last. I took my bag down and the woman behind started to throw her bag in there. I quickly threw mine bag back in so she got pissed and shoved her bag in squishing mine and heard her complaining for about 30 mins into the flight. Then as I’m trying to catch some sleep on the flight she rings her bell and yells loudly can you please have the guy in front of me move his pillow I can’t see the tv. I was like wtf is this chicks problem?? So I got my revenge when her connecting flight to cvg was cancelled!!

  33. FRA/MUN was seated next to a somoan lady that was breast feeding her infant, and as it seems to go, the baby ( large baby) barfed on my clean shirt,

    in Munich airport I managed to grab a shower and put on my spare shirt.

    MUN/ANK flight guess who was seated next to me?

    my spare shirt got another dose of curdled breast milk.

    Only positive part was going through customs search in Ankara, first item they opened was my brief case with the (by now ripe) shirt in it. customs agent slammed the case and passed me on my way.

  34. Both on AA ORD-HNL DC-10s in the mid/late 1980’s, going home from college.

    Incident 1: Person of size in window, me in aisle. I finish what I’m going to eat from in-flight meal. Seatmate points to my dessert with his fork and asks, “you gonna eat that?” No dude, it’s all yours.

    Incident 2: Not really seatmate from hell, but ODD dude in window (I’m in aisle again). For entire 9-1/2 hour flight, he didn’t eat or drink anything, talk to anyone, watch movie, read, sleep, look out window, or get up AT ALL. Just sat there, staring off into space the entire flight. Totally freaked me out.

  35. My annoying seat mate story starts off in PHL going to DEN then on to LAX. I had been at a family wedding where i had fallen and torn ligaments in my ankle..i was the cranky flyer! What made the trip worse was the man sitting in the seat in front of mine talked the entire trip to Denver about sex! I was with my then 13 year old daughter who kept looking at me like what is he talking about and my Korena War Veteran Uncle who was seated on the aisle seat across from Sex talk Sam. I tried ignoring the conversation and put ear buds in my daughters ear but when he found out his seatmate was a lesbian it got down right dirty. Everyone on the plane was turning around glaring at him then looking at me like how are you not smacking him in the head and telling him to shut up! My Uncle was ready to pounce on him. So when he started talking about going ‘south of the border’ and how it turned him on to watch 2 girls I said that’s it. So i tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to keep his conversation private as my 13 year old daughter can hear him and it’s completely inappropriate conversation for a public area. He turned and yelled at me and said ‘man that’s what’s going on out there’.,.,huh?!!? At this point my uncle was bird dogging him big time and finally the other passengers were telling him to be quiet and shushing him. To make matters worse I had ordered a wheel chair at the airport and when the plane landed i waited to be the last off so not to back up people exiting the plane. The FA came up to me and said that an overweight man TOOK my wheel chair and that I didn’t have one waiting for me! WHO does that?!?! The FA’s on Frontier could not have been nicer and quickly got me another chair…trip from hell and the happily married couple divorced a year later after she cheated on him! haha..oh well have to laugh now :)

    1. So on a short flight (thank goodness) from ATL-DAY for my sisters college graduation I ended up sitting next to Nascar Man. And by that I mean the dude was decked out head to toe in Nascar gear and did not shut up the entire flight about all the races he’d been too and who his favorite driver was and that he was headed to some race that weekend. I could not care two hoots about Nascar and because I had to leave work early for the flight I was trying to get some stuff done. On top of that the plane was only about 50% full so there were plenty of empty seats. Our row had an empty aisle seat and I asked if he wanted more room by moving over one, but nope he loved sitting in the middle seat squishing me to death- as he was also a “person of size” and smelled like he didn’t own a bar of soap. Thank goodness it was only an hour flight.

      1. Reminds me of an IAD-DAY flight I had. (Worst terminal ever.. basically on both sides. IAD because its temporary and 20 years old, and DAY because geez, couldn’t you make some wider windows? That being said the DAY family restroom was good for freshening up.)

        We were on a CRJ200, and I was in a window seat with a guy next to me.. Across the aisle there were two empty seats. After I was done eating, I rang the flight attendant call button and asked her if I could change seats — Nice way to give myself cover.)

  36. AF flight from CDG to LAX. Coach center section, 3 year old boy plops down next to a middle aged woman with a look of absolute horror on her face. Expression changes to anger, followed by a hopeful search for escape, then sad resignation as push back started.

    We arrive in LAX and the woman hands the 3 year old boy some candy and tells my wife what an absolute pleasure it was to sit next to our son.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier