Travel

The Man In Seat 1A

A different take on the world- Nabeel Shariff

Etiquette. It’s a very British trait, although some may argue it has been wavering the past couple of years. However, if there is one place where etiquette crosses cultures, nations and languages; it’s in the air. On a flight right now, there is a diaspora of people all heading in different directions, and in a strange way all speaking the same language. It’s quite amazing that wherever you’re from, you just know what to do at an airport. Check in, drop your bags, go through security, do a bit of duty free shopping and head to the gate. It’s a processing of humans like no other place on earth, honed down to a tee. When you get on the aircraft though, something in the air changes. Firstly, there is the loss of hearing when the gate opens to board. The frenzied rush to confine oneself on a plane for however many hours is an odd craving. Once onboard, there are the passengers in seat 82F, who will be gazing aimlessly hoping their seat is at the front of the aircraft. Then you have the supersized hand luggage folks. How they get on the aircraft with three cabin bags, a giant box of Toblerone plus their limit of cigarettes is beyond me. Oh, and then they need to shove them in the overhead lockers, with the aid of the air stewardesses trying to remain patient whilst helping them. It’s twenty minutes of mindless chaos. You take off, and all goes back to a sense of calm. The sultry tones of the captain tell us we’re flying at a speed we can’t feel and reminds us that we are quite high up in the sky. The lights dim, the headphones go on and the first of what may be many movies begin. Then, it happens. if there is one thing though that will wind you up beyond breaking point, is the act that goes beyond borders. Some of us may just suck it up,some may place a subtle knee in the back of our intruder and in rare cases, some will just lose the plot completely and begin yelling random insults. It’s the seat reclining passenger.

Now, I personally don’t mind. It’s not the passengers’ fault that Mr Boeing put this stupid little button that collapses the back of your seat into an already uncompromising space. Does that 25 degrees of recline really turn your journey from a tormentous nine hours to a pod of bliss? No. It just hacks off a whole load of people who are already stressed having to endure hours in cattle class. The folks at the front of the plane have ‘first class problems’ of course, like their cutlery isn’t quite silver enough or the bread selection is missing the ciabatta. At the back of the plane though, once Barry in front of you decides to push that seat back shunting your dinner tray into you chest, you wouldn’t mind settling for a focaccia as your primary worry. So what do I do? Well, I don’t want to be Barry, as I like to think I’m fairly considerate. So I switch on my stealth mode. I’ll recline my seat by 5 degrees, wait five minutes and recline it some more. I’ll get up, walk past my victim to gauge an approximate height. Great, she’s 5”2’, I can recline even more. Before she knows it, I’m at full recline and Barry isn’t reducing the value of the seat I’ve paid for. If the person behind me is tall, wait for the inevitable toilet run and swiftly recline and play dead; it’s just not polite to wake up a sleeping passenger is it? And so we go, until the end of the flight everyone in my line have reclined to the full position. Of course, the person at the back of the cabin could be the unlucky one and unable to recline. Never mind, better luck next time.

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