Types of people you see on planes:

Sorry…it’s been a while since I wrote here. I was on the road all week, out east. I took a bunch of flights and discovered that (although everyone probably already knew it) I have WAY more game than my direct boss at work… giggity giggity…

Anyways, in the process of this trip I took a bunch more flights and decided to start categorizing the people on the plane. Everyone really does fall into a particular group when they fly. I’ve also taken the time to mark them on the asshole scale, 1 being a groovy person, 10 being an asshole you want to punch. An 8 would be someone you just want to corner near the lavatory and verbally berate for a while. Feel free to add your own in comments.

1: The Zen Flyer: We should all aspire to be this person. I am close, except I get very uptight at the airport… until I get through security I’m really no fun to be around…ask anyone who’s travelled with me. The zen flyer doesn’t care about anything. Flight’s delayed? oh well…shit happens. Oversold? no worries. Stuck in the middle seat between two fat people with too much perfume? meh…it’s temporary. The zen flyer is usually a genuinely nice person as well, and will have a nice conversation with you, but also be discreet and not bug you if you need some quiet time. I got to sit by a zen flyer on my flight from La Guardia to Dulles last week. Actually a zen flyer couple, which is even rarer. Asshole scale: 1

2: The Nervous Flyer: Somewhat afraid of flying, but equally afraid to admit it, this person will show their nervousness one of two ways. They’ll either talk your ear off so they have someone to hold hands with if the plane goes down, or they’ll sit all tense and quiet and make little sounds every time you hit an airpocket, thus making you a little uncomfortable. I think many nervous flyers are often nice people doing something that makes them show a not so likeable side of themselves. Harmless, and generally easily calmed down if you fly lots and can relate how good the pilots are via your own flying experiences. Asshole scale: 2.5

3: The Anxious Flyer: Not to be confused with the nervous flyer, this person generally has no fear of flying. This person just has fear. They’re worried they’ll be late, that the boss will be pissed off, that their customer will hate them, that their presentation isn’t done correctly, etc etc. They generally will open their laptop as soon as they can and work like a demon, sweating the whole time. They wear a suit on the plane, but it’s rumply. They don’t speak much, but when they do it’s a tale of woe and misery. Don’t try and calm this one down…just let them do their work. It can be real fun to tell them things like “I heard that (the destination) airport had some weather issues and we might have to land in Podunk”. Asshole scale: 4.5

4: The Little Bossman: Usually easily identified by either the cell phone stuck to his ear during taxi and the way he ignores the flight crew telling him to hang up and turn it off, just nodding at them, or by the trail of sycophants who follow him onto the plane and then keep going into coach after he sits in business. He doesn’t often actually work on the plane, but likes to order everyone around. Shows his superiority by ordering the airplane wine like he’s buying a $400 bottle in a restaurant…he screws that cap off then enjoys the bouquet and slowly loves the taste. Treats the stews and everyone around him like shit, and speaks in a loud loud voice. Asshole scale: 9

5: The Big Bossman: Not to be confused with the little bossman, this guy actually is as successful as he likes to think he is. He may have a cellphone on when he gets on, but he turns it off. He’s almost a Zen Flyer, but if there’s a delay he’s not real happy. He flirts with the stewardesses and tends to make them laugh. He has a superiority complex, but doesn’t lord it over everyone. Will probably work on the plane, and will happily talk about his company, and probably give you a card. Asshole rating: 4

6: The Happy Family: Tourists, or visiting family, they don’t fly much. At least not as a unit. Everything is a big production, as it isn’t easy organizing 3 kids under 12 and all their carryon’s, seat wants, and carriages for the younger ones. They can be alot of fun if you lean towards zen flyer yourself, but are deadly if you’re flying with a hangover. The best you can do is hope you’re not right in front of or behind them because invariably one of them will cry at some point. Usually the dad. Harmless, and to me, a very low asshole rating: 1

7 : The Chronic Annoyer: Always travels with the happy family, and is usually a boy between 4 and 10 years old. Somehow, he only sits behind you when you’re tired and hoping to sleep on the flight. He’s recognizable by his propensity to kick the shit out of your seat and pull on the top of it. Occasionally on a real long flight, and if he’s on the younger end of the scale, you might wake up from a nap to see him staring over your seatback into your eyes. At which point he will giggle hysterically and think it’s a fun game to play for the rest of the flight. Asshole rating: 8.

8: Expense Account Drunk: Travelling on the company’s dime, he orders alot of alcohol, and drinks it til he’s even stupider than he was when he boarded. I say he cuz this one’s usually a he. He’s often an overweight sales guy in a cheap suit with tassled loafers and carrying a big bag with sales stuff. By the time the flight lands, his pissed up and ends up dropping hes bag on the little bossman in front of him while taking it out of the overhead bin. Accidentally of course. This guy’s a talker, and will try and buy you a drink too, telling you “hell I’m not paying for it”. Asshole rating: 5 (it’d be higher if he didn’t try and buy you a drink).

9: The Frat Boys: Usually a group of boys in their early 20s flying together, probably either to or from a party or a sporting event. Generally harmless, but they do tend to be loud and swear alot. Not that I’m mr. clean mouth, but in the general public i try and keep it down. Their carry on bags are invariably gym bags and they always have a maxim or stuff magazine to read. Asshole rating: 3-7 depending on how loud they are.

10: The Jerk: Most likely candidate to be led off by the air marshall at your destination. This guy is the Little Bossman gone bad. He’s usually been screwed by the airline today, and of course they did it on purpose. He will bitch royally at anyone who resembles an employee of said airline. He treats everyone like shit, and generally makes people in his general vicinity come to the aid of the stewardess at some point. He is also known for his passive aggressive sighs and under the breath curses at any delays. It’s fun to mess with his head if he’s in the middle seat of your row by taking the armrest and not moving your arm for him. It’s also fun to pretend your asleep when he needs to get out to go to the bathroom. Asshole rating: 10.

So there you go…ten types that I see regularly on planes. I would put myself between zen flyer and anxious flyer most of the time, mainly because the whole airport process stresses me out so. I’m really not comfortable til I’m on the plane and have my iPod and book in the seat pocket and bag overhead. Oh…and I remove my shoes for long flights, which seems to piss some people off. Trust me…it’s way more comfortable…try it. My socks don’t stink. Much.

Anyways, feel free to add your own in comments.

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2 comments so far

  1. Rosie on

    Yay! Zen flyers! I think I am being close to one of those. It’s just the crying babies that annoy me.

  2. Rosie on

    Oh, and welcome back!! I want to hear about the fun stuff that happened on your trip!!


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