And more importantly, why?
This week I traveled to Chicago, I like Chicago, it’s a shame I couldn’t have stayed longer, the city is always alive, full of energy, don’t worry Chicago, I’ll be back. While at the airport I was struck, and again sitting on the plane as to all the different types of flyers there are. If you have read this blog at all in the past you know I am a frequent flyer. As one of those people who fly weekly, I have taken on a sort of style or type myself. I’m not talking about tall flyers, short flyers, family flyers or business flyers etc no I’m talking about personality traits that dictate what type of flyer you are. I am sure that some may find this a bit harsh, but follow me on this.
Decades ago flying was fun, something to look forward to, something you dressed up for even, something that put a smile on your face and made you proud when you told your friends of your pending exotic trip, even if you were only going to Tupelo (not that Tupelo is a bad place). Something that brought thoughts of exotic locations and new exciting people to meet who are unlike yourself. In short something to look forward to with anticipation and excitement and just a touch of trepidation because of the unknown.
Is it still that way?
When I arrive at the airport, it is my mission to get through security as quickly as possible, with the least amount of trouble, someone who flies as often as I do has learned the process of how to move through the system quickly. What to wear, what line to get into, how to pack, when to look someone in the eye or not in order to get through it fast, even what type of boarding pass to have, yes there are choices. But others have not.
Once through security (someday I will write about my TSA experiences) I can not get to the airline lounge fast enough. Often I feel like a mouse caught in a maze navigating around all the other mice who are dodging in and out. My patience is tested with people who can’t seem to walk in a straight line, or those who stop in the middle of their stride just to realize they were at the airport, completely unaware that there are hundreds of others walking directly behind them and about to run them down. But I have trained myself to get through this maze, quickly and find my peace in the airport lounge, with other people just like me, lonely travelers. I rarely notice in any meaningful way the people in the terminal or at the gates, I’ve trained myself to become oblivious to who they are.
But who are they and what type of fliers are they?
It is very difficult to tell in the terminal, but once your on the plane it is also very difficult to hide what type of flyer you truly are. At the airport I see, the businessman or woman with their briefcase in hand, the family on their way to grandmas or a vacation or the elderly that are completely confused in this foreign land called the Airport. This is not what I mean by type of flyer though. It becomes obvious on the plane, this is where you see it, oh yeah all those people are on my flight. However I don’t really see them that way, when I look around, I see.
The Nervous Flyer
You know the type, darting eyes, overly tightened seat belt, white knuckles during take off and landing. Then comes the one hour explanation of why they are so nervous. Afraid to get out of their seat during the flight flyer.
The Unaware Flyer
The type that is not aware that there are about 300 other people on this flight, they walk up and down the aisle, smacking you with their oversized luggage. Their not concerned nor are they even aware of the unwritten rules of arm sharing between seats or sleeping when they know they snore like a bear during hibernation. They don’t think there are rules to follow, they are oblivious.
The Impatient Flyer
This is the person who truly believes that planes take off on time and doesn’t understand why we are 5 minutes past our departure time. These people seem to believe that time really goes about 1- 1/2 times slower while in the air than on the ground, the drinks don’t come fast enough, there shouldn’t be a line for the bathroom etc.
The Unrealistic Expectations Flyer
This flyer is a lot like the Impatient Flyer, except they forget that the seats are close together when they book their ticket then board the plane and complain that there is no room. They just can’t understand why they don’t have more room. They expect courteous help, a free cocktail and by all means a bag of free peanuts, oh yeah and a pillow and blanket, without other people’s hair on them.
The Worker Bee Flyer
You know the type, walks on the plane with their laptop open and working or their on the phone closing the greatest deal in the history of the earth while they walk to their seat and sit down, buckle up and gets right to work, but don’t seem to accomplish much while they are doing it. Complaining about all the work they have to get done before they land, only when you glance over they are playing solitaire.
The Easily Annoyed Flyer
The smallest things can do it, you reaching up and over to turn on your light or open your air vent. Constantly fidgeting in their seat and giving the evil eye to the person sitting next to them because they breathe funny or smell funny, or look funny it doesn’t really matter, your just annoying them.
The Everything but the Kitchen Sink Flyer
We all know this one, too much luggage or the luggage is too large to fit in the overhead. they overpack for their two days in Tupelo and refuse to check a bag because it may cost some money. So they try to force it in. You know they need more space for life’s stuff. Or the person who reads the newspaper, holding it wide open encroaching into your space, they want and expect you to respect their personal space, but thinks their personal space is the whole plane and your infringing on it. Gets annoyed that their seat is too small. Can often be confused with Unrealistic Flyer and Easily Annoyed Flyer.
The McDonalds Flyer
One of my favorites. These are the people traveling with children, small children usually. They like to let their kids out of their seats to walk up and down the aisle, knocking into people etc so that the parents don’t have to deal with them while they are flying it’s the “out of sight out of mind” philosophy. At this point the plane becomes the ball pit at the local McDonalds. These are also know as the kickers, you know always kicking the back of your seat.
With the exception of the McDonalds Flyer, I have been all of these types over the years. I have also learned to mesh them all together when necessary, or pull out the one I need in an instance. For the most part I am now the type of flyer who can fall asleep in my own space before take off, the quiet, doesn’t like to talk much flyer, the aware flyer, but not too aware and most importantly the flyer that HAS a realistic expectation of what flying is today and how stressful it can be and why you just have to relax, take a deep breathe, for it will come to an end.
Today it seems that flying is a microcosm of anywhere in the life of anyone. Look around when your out and about, do you see some of these same people, at the mall, restaurant, grocery store, certainly at McDonalds, don’t you? Are we ever to see the glory days of flying again? With daily news of airlines financial troubles, passengers throwing their food trays because they didn’t get a vegan meal, or flight attendants slamming a beer on their way down the escape chute, of planes popping open like a big flying sardine can.
Sadly, I don’t think the glory days will come again.
I know what type of flyer I am.
What type are you? What type do you want to be?
Don’t be shy, leave a comment, do you know of another type?