10 Kinds of People You Will Meet on an Airplane

While it's possible that impending Winter Storm Cato may entirely ruin your holiday travel plans, you still may find yourself on an airplane sometime this week, jetting off to some distant location in order to get drunk with your high school friends and gorge yourself on ungodly amounts of stuffing. And you better be prepared, because sometimes holiday travel is not about the destination — it's about the journey. The exhausting, annoying, cramped, probably-delayed journey.

I fly Southwest, personally, because it’s cheap and I really like purple planes. You check in online, you print your boarding pass, you show up to the airport in yoga pants and sunglasses with a bag of Flaming Cheetos in hand, and you wait until they call out your boarding group. There are no assigned seats, so the boarding process turns into a beautiful, American free-for-all over which you have little to no control. But whether you fly Southwest, British Airways, or Air France, you are bound to meet new people one way or another given that you're stuck in a relatively small metal box with tight seating arrangements for awhile. And I don’t know whether it’s my innate fear of flying or sentimentality, but there seems to be a “we’re all in this together” kind of vibe that’s present throughout the flight. Whenever there’s turbulence, there’s always a collective murmur. When the turbulence stops, sometimes there’s concerted clapping. When the pilot announces he’s flying somewhere gross because of weather conditions, everyone gives out a synchronized groan. We’re like a temporary family, you know? Here are 10 different types of people you might meet, and bond with, on any given flight.

1. The guy going through a weird mid-life crisis

My last flight to Massachusetts was really, really long. Already annoyed I had to sit in front of Burger King for an hour and a half in Vegas, I tried to make the rest of my trip as smooth as possible by taking a couple sleeping pills and putting on my indicative headphones. So when this guy in his mid-50s started talking to me on the plane, I was like, no please make it stop.

I was forced to listen to him anyway; the entire flight he talked about his divorce, and how he’s only visiting Massachusetts for his daughter’s wedding, and how he grows and sells pot now. After I said, “That’s really nice,” he became super defensive, as though I told him I was a huge DARE Program advocate or something. “A guy can live in Vegas and sell pot and gamble, OK?” He kept saying. OK.

2. The woman who wears way too much Chanel Number Five

Chanel Number Five was Marilyn Monroe’s signature scent, but that doesn’t mean you don’t smell like a cross grandmother when you wear it. A spritz or two is one thing, but you know you’re always going to bump into someone who has taken a long, luxurious bath in some overpowering perfume. And it's intense and unwieldy.

3. The teenager who is blasting music so loud you can sing along to the AFI lyrics

This young person will always call the window seat just so that they can rest their head on the window in a pensive fashion. I mean, they’re not even enjoying the views. You can sense their growing separation anxiety the second after the flight attendant asks everyone to turn their phones off. How can they possibly entertain themselves without a screen and plethora of emojis?

4. A grandma or grandpa who would love to tell you about all of their crazy flight stories

This usually makes me feel better about flying, because this really old person is basically telling me to not be a wuss. They’ve experienced all the things: Planes going through such bad turbulence that drinks are splashing around mid-air, emergency landings in oceans and corn fields; you name it and they’ve lived through it.

5. The lady who wants nothing to do with you and all the delicious snacks you brought on board

She will give your spicy trail mix the stink eye, which is annoying because it’s not like you brought Pirate’s Booty with you (which we all know can be a little stinky).

6. The guy who is way more nervous about flying than you are

He’s in the fetal position. He’s asking you if it’s turbulence or a mechanical failure. He’s judging suspicious passengers. He took a Xanax and now he's drooling on the tray. He's sweating profusely. He’s the worst.

7. The Airplane Dad

Whenever I traveled alone, I had a bad habit of telling people I was scared of flying. I felt like if I openly confronted my fears, nothing bad would happen. Once, I sat by a really nice older man who either used to be a pilot or engineer. Either way, he knew his mechanics and physics, and he told me I shouldn’t be scared, and I basically adopted him as my Airplane Dad and everything was OK.

8. The couple that baby-talk each other

Come on guys, use your adult voices. Stop tickling each other. Just. Stop.

9. The stiff business person

This person is constantly checking their watch or violently typing on their laptop. If the pilot announces even the slightest delay or crappy weather update, this individual sighs, heavily. Whatever it is, it will get in their way. They are on a tight schedule. They have no time for airplane routes and weather

10. The kid going crazy and representing how we all feel on the inside

This little person is kicking and screaming, or at the very least sobbing. Yes, we roll our eyes and turn up the volume on our iPods, but we secretly wish we could kick, scream, and sob too because planes are just the worst.

Images: Giphy (4)