I love flying, I really do. I love traveling and experiencing things a little out of my ordinary. When I travel I generally find something incredible that I don’t get at home, or I come to appreciate home for little and unusual reasons. I generally don’t mind airports and TSA doesn’t bother me – the rules do, but the people enforcing those rules are generally very nice and professional. Even with all of the penny pinching from airlines, I still stare out the window at take off and landing and just marvel. Those two moments are my favorite part of flying.
Having traveled a little too much over the last few months, I have begun categorizing types of travelers. Not business, first time traveler or experienced vacationer, but how people act in this very unique environment. Here are some traveler types I’ve encountered (and I include myself in this list, so it isn’t necessarily a complaint, just an observation.)
1) The packrat. This person takes the “two carry on items” to new levels. Shoving way overfilled rollerboards into spaces they were not designed to go, pulling out purse, jacket and some form of entertainment so two items quickly becomes ten before the boarding door closes. And that bag that wouldn’t fit? It’s now two smaller ones that do.
2) The sprawler. This traveler may have only one or two bags, but they take up as much space as possible. They claim both armrests – the entire armrest – even when not seated in the middle seat. Their legs find their way into your space and, if on a long flight, your seat also has the blanket, pillow, cup and trash in it after you stand up to use the restroom or just walk a little.
3) The needy traveler. This person has a question for the flight attendants every single time they see one. And if one does not pass by every 15 minutes the call button is used. Repeatedly. If a flight attendant doesn’t respond soon enough, or doesn’t give the answer this person wants, the person next to them becomes their target.
4) The isolationist. This person is armed with earphones, books, magazines, whatever it takes to avoid all conversation up to and including a brief “hello” when sitting next to a stranger. No eye contact is ever made and they guard their space like a miser guards his money.
5) The grouch/grumbler. This person always finds something to complain about. The food is lousy, the drinks are small, there is no legroom, the flight is crowded and why are there children on the plane? It could be the perfect flight and this person will find something to complain about and someone to complain to – although rarely to anyone who could do anything about an actual issue.
6) The squatter. This person will never pay for more legroom, but as soon as the boarding door closes, they find any empty seat and move to it. They plop and hope no one forces them to move. (Note this is different than changing seats when a plane is not full to give everyone more room – this person scopes out empty seats as they board and as soon as possible, rushes up and claims the new seat – even if there are as many people around as the original seat.)
7) The talker. This person never left a stranger and you know more about them than you know about your college roommate before you hit ten thousand feet. They never stop talking unless it is to ask a question every now and then so they don’t appear rude. Your answer has no bearing on their next monologue unless they need a springboard for a new topic.
8) The sleeper. This person finds the seat and either passes due to natural causes or alcohol. There is no waking them and no moving them so you just hope they are not on an aisle.
I feel like I’m missing some, but these are the big ones. Note – they can combine categories and sometimes you get a new wrinkle in the group like a sloppy squatter who sprawls or a talker who grumbles or an isolationist who is really needy. Those are highly interesting, unless you are sitting next to them.