I have taken a grand total of 15 flights in the last few weeks, which is a lot, and probably hundreds more over the course of my life. So I’m pretty set in my ways now when it comes to plane etiquette.
Big planes, little planes, short flights and long-haul, it doesn’t matter. There are three anarchistic things I do every time.
I hate this part of the flight, when you’ve settled yourself into a nice cocoon of avoiding your surroundings (music, eye mask, seat back) and they shake you awake aggressively and make you do all sorts of pointless and uncomfortable things for half an hour while you descend.
It’s in the same pointless vein as the ‘seats fully upright’ and ‘no stray pillows’ rule. Has a plane ever gone down because someone was listening to their iPod at the wrong moment? Why must the seats be up? Has anyone ever been injured by a stray pillow whacking them during turbulence?
Also, I’ve noticed that on some planes now they don’t enforce these rules at all anymore. Sometimes they even say “feel free to use your gadgets during take-off and landing”. I take this to mean that it’s because they are stupid, outdated rules.
You can’t trick them into hanging onto your pillow. But you can break the other rules.
What I do when they say “time to turn off and stow your electronics”, is I take my hair out of its ponytail, arrange it expertly so that it covers my ears and headphones (basically so that I look like an emo), stick the chord down my top and nestle my phone under that.
And then when they stalk the aisles bobbing their heads from side to side as they look for anarchists, I just pause my music (in case they try to talk to me about something) and then hit play again when they go past, while also very slowly lowering my seat back again.
My main, main point is this.
Planes are more likely to crash during either take-off or landing than at any other point during the flight. When planes crash, you are pretty much definitely toast. At least let us all die in relative comfort.
I, Annabel Fenwick Elliott, never, ever, board a plane sober. The only time I have done this (as an adult) was the time I accidentally booked myself onto a Kuwait Airways flight from New York to London, on which they don’t serve alcohol because of it being a Muslim airline. I wouldn’t recommend this.
The reason used to be because I was so afraid of flying, and because getting drunk really does take the edge off and makes you feel more embracing of your imminent death. You sort of make friends with it when you are drunk. You worry less.
As of very recently, I’m much less afraid of flying. I still wouldn’t be at all surprised if I did die in a plane crash, but broadly speaking, flying is no longer of one my Top Fears.
The never-getting-on-a-plane-sober rule still stands though, I’m afraid. It’s too ingrained. I share this with my best friend Buzz.
We always, always have a glass of celebratory champagne at the airport before boarding, even if it’s 6am, and we always, always take a picture of it and send it to the other person who is not at the airport, but is usually slogging it out at the office, and the other person replies with something along the lines of, “Jealous. Don’t die in a plane crash x.”
3. Get the window seat at all costs
This is only really badly behaved because it speaks to my inherent selfishness.
Obviously I like the window seat because I like looking out the window, and because I can crunch myself up against it, and because I won’t get my legs kicked to shit if I stretch them out sleepily into the aisle.
But the main reason I need a window seat is because I’d rather be the wake-er than the wake-ee.
Meaning, I’d prefer to be the annoying person who, when needing the loo, has to wake up two other passengers (middle and aisle) in the dead of night and make them scramble miserably out of their seats to let you out, and then have them wait, even more miserably, until you get back to let you in again.
Much better than to be the poor sod (middle or aisle) who has been battling to sleep for hours and then finally nods off, and then gets dragged out of slumber to let the window seat passenger get up and go to the loo.
Basically, if you get the window seat, you get to govern your own napping schedule.
In conclusion, if I employ all three of these policies when flying, and the plane does go down, then I shall die in the following way.
Drunk, curled up against the window, with my seat back, listening to Bob Dylan.