Melanie Veness: PCB CEO
I love going to new places, but I must say that I don’t particularly enjoy the trip. Especially if I am flying. There’s all the waiting around and standing in queues (patience is not a virtue that I can claim to have) and then there is being confined to small spaces with complete strangers, in the queue, on the bus and in the plane. An interesting social space, and often an uncomfortable one.
One can expect the “usuals” i.e the guy that is so keen to get to the counter that he constantly rams his trolley into your ankles (10 centimetres is going to make a difference?), big sweaty guy, that nobody wants to be squished next to, creepy guy whose pick-up lines must have worked on other flights, otherwise he wouldn’t persist with them, the “waddler” with the manic heals and way too much luggage that stops the easy flow of traffic and the lady with the grating voice that speaks endlessly and has no volume control.
After you’ve travelled a bit, you think you’ve seen it all, but oh perish the thought, I can assure you that there are still surprises in store for you. I have encountered a couple of really special travellers on my adventures.
I recall one particular trip to London, some years back. I was so excited , because I had managed to book a front seat in the bubble upstairs (leg space for Africa!). Not being built for economy class, I rarely get to sleep away any of the trip, but this time, I figured, I was going to spend a great deal of it fast asleep. My euphoria was short lived, however, because five minutes into the flight, the delightful chap behind me grabbed a hold of my seat to launch himself out of his own to go to the bathroom, something that was to happen in ten minute intervals throughout the flight. I was irritated, but I reasoned that he had some sort of health problem, and I resigned myself to enduring another long flight. Read, is what I decided I would do. Just as I was getting in to a new book, I heard this click, click click noise. I turned around to find that “launcher guy” had his shoes and socks off and his foot up on the window ledge, and he was, wait for it, cutting his toe nails. I kid you not, toe nails flying all over the plane.
The look of unmitigated horror on my face had absolutely no impact whatsoever.
I am not sure what defines acceptable behaviour for people in these circumstances, perhaps it’s a shortcoming that we don’t teach aeroplane etiquette, but we really should. Perhaps it could be taught as a section of life orientation in school, or a pamphlet should be placed in the seat pocket in front of you, because, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely not safe to assume that everyone knows what behaviour is expected from them on aeroplanes. And if staff are flying in branded corporate wear, I’d strongly suggest an orientation course before they embark on any journey.