What's The Worst Passenger You've Sat Next To?

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Almost everyone has a nightmare travel story from some flight. For some of us, it's about crazy flight delays, mid-air reroutes due to bad weather or unruly passengers going nuts mid-flight. But for others, it's the person you sit next to who's an incessant talker, fidgeter or has the worst bad breath ever. A fiend of mine had a terrible passenger experience on a flight yesterday and shared it with me.

Here's what happened to my friend.

I've been pretty lucky. Aside from the occasionally flatulent neighbour and my wife who cannot sit still on a long-haul flight, I've been lucky to not have anything this terrible.

So, what's the worst you've seen from a passenger on a flight you've been on?


    Back in the 70s, smoking was allowed on international flights. Believe it or not, the cabin was divided down the middle. A man got on in Singapore and chain-smoked Camels until Frankfurt.
    I spent most of that leg walking up and down the aisles.

    Sydney to Perth late one Sunday night.
    Seated in a 3-seat row next to a couple, he ice-addict thin, she obese, then me.

    She literally spent the entire flight with her elbow in my lap, eating.
    Not just the provided meal (seemingly inhaled like an oyster in shell) but a string of takeaways including Chinese, several different sandwiches, an entire box of spring rolls and family blocks of chocolate.
    The only breaks were for an insulin injection and a couple of minor epileptic seizures.

    I tried to doze to escape the jiggling and gorging, only to be roused by small impacts on my face.
    She'd polished off a huge bag of chips and was enthusiastically brushing any crumbs that had somehow avoided her gaping maw, onto me - I ended up with spring roll, bread, chip and who-knows-what crumbs from my hair to my knees.

    We landed shortly thereafter and to this day I'm not sure that I wasn't being garnished and if the flight had lasted any longer I'd have been next on the menu.

    NYC-SFO I had a window seat with a grossly obese couple next to me, who elbowed me, snored, farted and dribbled from sea to shining sea.

    Japan Airlines from Singapore to The Netherlands. EMPTY flight may I add there were crew and 6 people on board including myself may I add. I thought I'd won the lottery, so I got to sit
    in the business class bubble feeling pretty smug. Or so I thought. A few people on the flight had the same idea as me, including a couple of complete nut jobs from god knows where decided in an empty plane to come sit right next to me and talk to me about how the moon is made of cheese and when you land on it it sounds like a bell. Dragon Air was apparently evil and they had read all these things in a book called the Matrix. A few toilet attempts and trying to sit somewhere else failed as 20 minutes later there they were again, right next to me talking to me about how they only like modern things and asking me if there are modern buildings in Holland. Every so often the lady would get up and do her strange DVT preventing chicken dance right in front of me, while I was closely guarding the emergency exit just in case one of those nutters tried to open it mid flight.

    You would think OH that would have entertained me greatly for a few hours!
    May I remind you that that flight is 13 hours, and so was the free entertainment.
    No sleep, no peace and quiet. Had earphones on, they were still rattling on.

    JFK - FRA on SIA some time in 2013:

    This is a truncated night flight (leaves NYC mid-evening and 9 hours later, lands mid-morning local). So getting enough sleep is essential but difficult even at the best of times.

    I was seated next to a young kid, perhaps 4 or 5. I'm assuming he had some variant of a hyperactivity disorder as he chattered (to himself) noisily and incessantly for the whole flight. I don't think he slept at all; I certainly didn't. Noise canceling headphones are only so effective and didn't really help.

    I'm not blaming the kid. He probably couldn't help it. My rage was directed at the parents who were sitting across the aisle from him. And who, aside from handing him an iPad shortly after we were seated, studiously ignored him the entire flight.

    For a while I tried interacting with him. So did a few passing hosties. But he seemed (not unreasonably) wary of strangers so we didn't push our luck. A number of requests for his parents to settle him were near enough completely ignored too.

    FRA - SIN (the onward leg of the previous flight)

    Guess who was going all the way through to Changi. And guess who chattered the whole way there too. And guess whose parents ignored him yet again.

    Fortunately this time I was some way from him so finally managed to get some sleep. Though since it's an extended day flight (leave mid-morning, arrive 12 hrs later mid-afternoon local) doing so exacerbated the already bad jetlag this flight causes.

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