Whether you’ve booked flights to head interstate for a relaxed weekend getaway or to jet off to some far-flung corner of the world, the first chapter of every holiday is the plane ride. As they say, travel is about the journey, not the destination, and one of the best parts of any journey is the people you meet along the way.
Because air travel requires you to be confined in a small space with a group of strangers for a predetermined amount of time, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll encounter a few characters over the duration of your flight. Some will be chatty, some will be aloof, and some will be downright quirky.
So, with that in mind, here are some of the people you are likely to meet – and potentially bond with – on your next flight.
The Experienced Flier
This person travels a lot. This may be due to their job, which you can deduce from the laptop they flip open as soon as the seatbelt sign is turned off. They’re often the calmest person on-board, and are the least likely to turn up to the airport in activewear. They’re also a pro packer, having turned carry-on luggage into an art form. Nothing fazes them anymore, as they’ve likely flown this route a million time before – as such, they’re a great resource. If they don’t have the look of a person on a deadline, it can be worth asking a few questions about the flight destination to make use of their frequent flier status.
The Person Who Has Never Flown Before
Despite the fact that Australians love to travel, there may be at least one person on your flight who has never been on a plane before. You can often spot this person through a few tell-tale signs: the smile that’s glued to their face, which is equal parts excited and nervous; the awkward way they order drinks, like they’re not sure if it’s actually allowed; and their slightly bleary-eyed gaze, which is the result of them having arrived at the airport 16 hours before their flight, just to be absolutely sure they wouldn’t miss the boarding call.
The Nervous Flier
The Nervous Flier comes in a few different forms, as anxiety about flying can manifest in various ways. Some refuse to unbuckle their seatbelt, and every wave of turbulence sees them clutching their armrests with a vice-like grip. A Nervous Flier may also give their undivided attention to the on-board safety demonstration, and they consume the information on the back pocket safety card like it’s this summer’s hottest read. While the plane’s in the air, they’re not much of a talker, but after it lands, they become the friendliest, most jovial person you’ve ever met.
It doesn’t matter if you’re watching a movie or enjoying your book in peace and quiet, the Talker wants to chat. Not even headphones will protect you – the Talker want to know where you’re going, and they want to tell you where they’re going. Have you been there before? What are you planning to do when you get there? Do you have accommodation sorted yet? Where are you heading next? And where have you been before? They want to share their life story with you, and they want to hear yours. This can lead to some really entertaining conversations, but if you’re desperate for some you-time, the only sure-fire way to avoid the Talker is with a sleep mask.
The “We’re on Holiday!” People
Maybe it’s been a while since this person has had a holiday, or maybe this particular trip is one they’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Either way, this person has been in holiday-mode since they first set foot on the plane – if not since the moment they turned on their ‘Out of Office’. They’re the first ones to flip through the in-flight entertainment list to pick out the movies they’ll be watching, and they may have even looked into what’s on offer during meal service ahead of time, too. Plus they’ve likely done their research on hotspot restaurants, cool bars and secret travel hacks for their destination. This person couldn’t be more excited to escape the daily grind and their enthusiasm is definitely to be saluted.
The Deep Sleeper
There are some truly blessed people out there who possess the ability to fall asleep instantly, no matter their environment. Turbulence? Didn’t notice. Screaming baby? No worries! The only issue is when they’re seated in the aisle and you’re by the window, so you have to somehow clamber over them in order to reach the bathroom. This is one reason why it’s important to always stretch before you board.
The Person Who Packed Everything
No matter if their flight is two hours or 22 hours, this type of traveller is prepared for anything. They’ve brought a blanket and a pillow (sometimes both the normal and the neck varieties), slippers and sleepwear, books, crosswords, a deck of cards, and just about every snack you can think of. Whatever happens on this flight, they’re ready for it.
The people you meet when you travel are invariably some of the best people. Whether they’re locals or fellow travellers, like-minded or wildly different to yourself, every person you meet when you travel has the potential to teach you something new. It can be very tempting when you board a plane to just pop on your headphones and drift into your own world, but you’re missing an important opportunity. So the next time you board a plane, take a moment to introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you – you might not exchange more than pleasantries, but that person might also become a new friend.
Feature image: Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash