The Passenger Beside You


Image: Qantas.

Last week, Mamamia published a piece called The 7 people you NEVER want to sit next to on a plane.

Two of them resonated with me. The first is Chatty McChatterson.

You know the one. You start off with a cordial exchange: “So where are you getting off?” “Oh, the same place as me, that would make sense given that this is, you know, a plane and not a bus.” Until, before you know it, you’re discussing their fungal toenail infection, and all you’re thinking is:

I don’t mind a little bit a small talk from my neighbor on the plane, but, I admit, I’m really not interested in discovering your life story and hearing all about your grandchildren over a 13+ hour flight.

The second type is the one that makes me agonize over where I should sit on a long flight.

5 minutes in: “Can I get past?” “Yes.”

1 hour in: “Can I just squeeze past?” “Yes, of course.”

2 hours in: “Sorry, can I get past?” “Yes… are you feeling okay?”

3 hours in: “Sorry, just need to pop to the bathroom again?” “Do you need a nurse?”

4 hours in: “Sorry, me again!” “WHERE IS THIS EXCREMENT EVEN COMING FROM?”

5 hours in: “Can I get past?”

The window seat has nice views for about 20 minutes and is generally more comfortable, but I hate to make people get up so I can stretch or go to the toilet. The aisle seat makes that easier, but then you’re the one getting up all the time and probably being whacked by the food and drink carts. Decisions, decisions.

Normally, I advise against reading comments on most websites, but Mamamia readers have some more examples of nightmarish people to sit next to.

The child who cried/screamed non-stop from LA to Sydney. And I do mean non-stop. Probably not helped by mum (I assume it was mum) yelling at him.

My poor cousin had a drunk man vomit in her lap at the beginning of a long haul flight, and then to add insult to injury she raced to the baggage carousel on arrival for a change of clothes only to find her bag had been misplaced by the airline! She had to go shopping for new clothes in vomit covered pants!

My pet peeve is the person who has the aisle seat but refuses to stand up if you need to get out. They just move their legs to the side, forcing you to squeeze past and shove your bum in their face.

What are some types of people you dread sitting next to or nearby on a long flight?




  1. My nightmare next-seat-passenger would be the smelly ones – “Shower? What’s that?!”

    I got back last week from travel between Norway and the middle of the U.S. – three flight segments each way, and *every* flight had either a great seatmate or NO seatmate. It was perfect travel – although I’m sure the airlines would rather every seat be booked!

    • Oh, a smelly one! How did we all miss that one? Along the same lines is the person that has put on too much cologne or perfume. That can be a killer. I’m glad you had a good fight last week!

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