N.B This post was originally published in January 2016.
I guarantee you. You will run into at least one of each of the below characters on any single flight from or to Beirut.
1. The overdressed lady
It’s October. It has rained a total of four raindrops in Beirut and this lady can’t resist traveling without the biggest, most illegally farmed fur coat she owns. Before she’s even found her seat in Business Class she looks at you and me, repulsed, as we make our way to sit amongst the undesirables in Economy Class. She frequently requests that the separation curtain between the two cabins remains closed throughout the flight so that she doesn’t have to look at us while she eats and consequently lose her appetite.
2. The underdressed adolescent
He’s the one that visited New York the previous summer with the sole purpose of buying a new wardrobe exclusively from Hollister, Aeropostale, and Abercrombie and Fitch. And he wants you to know that. And he wants you to see how comfortable, casual, and laid-back he looks draped with as many of the purchases he can manage to wear. This guy likes to wait to board the flight with his legs up, messy hair, and earplugs in (even if they’re not connected to anything).
3. The guy that has totally been on an airplane before
This one is my favorite. He’s flown a couple times throughout his life and he will make sure that you’re aware of that. When the flight attendant is going over the safety instructions, he announces loudly that he’s heard all the instructions before (because, you know, this isn’t his first time flying). During take-off, he likes to dramatically take off his seatbelt before the seatbelt sign turns off to show the rest of us that he’s “got this” and he is just that willing to take risks (because, you know, this isn’t his first flight). This move never fails to impress so take notes, guys.
4, The man flying Business Class
As soon as the announcement is made for Business Class passengers to begin boarding, this guy will race to get to the Business Class line and put his briefcase down slowly then turn around and glare at everyone else waiting for the Economy Class boarding call. He’ll glare long enough to make you feel like garbage, but short enough to look a tad bit classy while making you feel like garbage
5. The networker
This man is a professional who travels weekly for work. As passengers board the flight, he has to fight the urge to stand next to the welcoming crew and hand out his business card to everyone boarding. Other than announcing his name, job title, and credentials, his favourite phrase is, “Passports these days! They never really put in enough pages, right?” This guy also likes to act very friendly with stewardesses. He might have seen one of them on a previous flight he’s taken so he will make a huge deal out of this and go back to brag-complaining about how much he travels.
6. The brat
The only time this kid ever stops crying is when the stewardess comes around with a coloring book, crayons, and an airplane brooch for them. Outside of that one minute, they're yelling for an iPad, kicking the nanny, and running up and down the aisles - alternating between laughing hysterically and violently screaming. There is an unspoken agreement when it comes to “the brat”. Everyone on the plane needs to force a smile as they run by and pretend that it’s just so adorably cute how she or he woke them up, disrupted their movie, or spilled their drink. Let’s agree - not cute.
7. The honeymooners
This tanned couple just got married and is making it a point to let everyone know that they just got back from an exotic place and they’re so beyond happy to be married. They talk about whether or not they applied enough Aloe Vera before coming to the airport and they discuss their trip to Bora Bora really loudly in hopes that a fellow passenger will ask them about it. This couple take selfies while they pretend to sleep in their seats and they hold hands no matter how awkward it gets, like while they’re eating. They exchange smiles with other couples as if they have some bond or on-going inside joke with every other couple in the world. If you pay attention, you’ll catch them smiling at all the single people with more of a pity smile that says, “One day you’ll have this too.”
8. The lady who talks to anyone with a set of ears
You don’t want to be seated next to her. She manages to make a conversation out of anything - from the type of olives they serve with your meal, to what material is used to stuff the pillows. And somehow, someway, the conversation always leads to her discussing her children that live abroad. “Yes, I’m pretty sure they use shredded newspaper in these uncomfortable pillows, which reminds me – my daughter loves reading the Newspaper - not Lebanese ones though...American ones...because she lives in America.”
9. The one that never stops eating
Sometimes I wonder whether these people actually have a reason for traveling other than airplane food. I'm convinced that they take the occasional day off from work to book same-day round trips to have a grand lunch on the outbound flight, and then dinner on the inbound one. They'll attack the food and ask for seconds before the hostess even puts their tray down. During the few moments outside of feeding time on the flight, you will catch this passenger popping anxiety pills to deal with the no-food situation. If you couldn't tell who the undercover air marshal was earlier, now you can. He will be on maximum alert as this passenger rips apart their bread ferociously. You do not want to sit next to this one - other than their eating habits being a safety hazard, their heavy breathing while eating (which lasts from time of departure until time of arrival) is not as soothing as it sounds.
N.B This post was originally published in January 2016.