Some love it. Others hate it. My sister, Jamie, for example, hates it so much that she will literally squeeze my hand so hard mid-flight that it makes me lose circulation and turn purple.
However, for me, there is one thing that is far more nerve-racking than the fact that you’re flying thousands of miles in mid-air. My fear? Who will be my plane passengers.
I will be flying to Florida this Saturday, and, fortunately, I’m flying with my family. However, this usually does NOT mean that I will be flying beside my family, for they usually decide that I will be the one to sit next to a stranger.
These flights always feel like a first date. They can either go really well, ok, or really, really badly. The problem? You have absolutely no way to run. You can’t fake a headache. You can’t escape early to “let your dog out.” You are stuck for thousands of miles making small talk.
I understand that most people probably don’t have this problem. You don’t actually have to talk to your fellow passenger. You can simply slip on headphones or sleep. Unfortunately, I hate awkward silences so much that I feel obligated to introduce myself immediately. This introduction, inevitably, leads to the flying first date. Like regular dating, I have had an awesome first date and a really (really) awful one:
Best: I was flying with my family to Hawaii. My mom, dad, sisters, and cousin Bobby all got to sit next to each other. I, as usual, was given the seat next to the stranger. It was a girl about four years older than me, covered in tattoos, with short, bright red hair. She was dressed stylishly, and I was wearing sweatpants. Basically, we were the same person. But in this case, opposites did attract. We ended up talking for the entire 10 hour flight. Although we did make a “first date” faus pas and shared FAR more than you probably should…
Worst: I was flying with my parents to Switzerland. There was an open seat next to me until moments before the flight. However, then, a man came and sat next to me that would honestly put Biggest Loser contestants to shame. I was able to sit in about 1/3 of my actual seat. He was also about as outgoing as Oscar the Grouch. The flight home was about 17 hours. I had to go to the bathroom at least five times, and had a window seat. Every time I had to get up, I had to tap him on the shoulder. When he got up, he breathed as heavily as if he’d just finished the Boston Marathon. This got even more awkward when he started to sleep (and yes, of course he was a snorer).
To make matters worse, five hours before we came back to Chicago, I got a horrible stomachache. It was horrible enough that I had to be escorted off my flight by the Medical Emergency staff. The stranger gave me absolutely zero sympathy.
Have you had any awesome, awkward, or awful flying “first dates?” Or, do you immediately turn on your headphones and sleep away the strangers?