People on a plane


grey People on a plane

During my various flights and waits in airports on this journey, as is bound to happen, I have met a few interesting People on a plane. This got me thinking about the types of people you bump into on a commute:

The fretter

Whilst waiting to check in at Melbourne international I met my first fretter. He was a balding chap wearing a safari shirt and a bumbag (the international fretter’s uniform). we were at the back of the queue but I was not concerned, we still had

over two hours until takeoff. Fretter scurried up with his eyes darting from clicking departure board to board. With beading forehead and frown working overtime he turned to me;


“Is this the check in queue for Bangkok?”

“Yeah mate”

(there were no less the eight screens in front of us displaying all the flight numbers and code sharing numbers)

“Do you reckon we will have time, it’s a big queue?”

“Yup easy, customs is really quick in the morning”



“Good, good, my travel agent assured me I will have time but it is a big line…are you sure?”

“She’ll be fine mate, don’t worry. Where are you going? What have you got planned?”

I find that most fretters are impossible to console, distraction is a safer option; ‘I am stressed’ is best replied with ‘Oh look, something shiny’

I turned to the guy in front who was busily ‘hhmhping’ in a freakishly bovine manner and commenting on the slowness of the line. Immediately upon asking “where are you going?” I realised that this tall, lanky guy was different to my animated friend behind….

grey People on a plane

The mistrusting guy

This type of commuter is suspicious of everyone. When I finished my question he shifted his bags away from my feet and placed himself between me and his bags…well the flight was to Bangkok and I was wearing my weird hippy pants… Never, never waste time or energy on the mistrusting guy, they spend their entire commute staring down coloured children or obsessively checking their itineraries for errors. If you ever meet a mistrusting guy at a hostel or bar, just walk away, trust me!

I find my seat on the plane next a friendly, well dressed indian chap leaning forward to tuck my book into the seat pocket I suddenly realise that I had been seated next to,

The farter

There is not much to say here. If, like me, you don’t wear your Sunday best on a plane a snappily dressed Indian farter beside you will seem innocent of any smells wafting around the vicinity. Despite him wolfing down Hindu vegetarian curries continuously for the entire ten hour flight everyone within four rows was looking suspiciously at me. Slumped against the window seat I noted was a

Sleeping girl

I have only seen a few true examples of this retiring creature on commutes, their talent is rare and much envied on extended flights. Once their seatbelt goes clicks and before the safety spiel finishes they will tilt their head to one side, close their eyes peacefully and not stir for the entire flight. While watching her slumber enviously I decide that there had to be drugs involved. Looking around the sleeping cabin I spotted a faint glow coming from the middle of a row and realise that; Ladies and Gentlemen we have a

grey People on a plane


The flight attendants will have to wrench his iPad or Gameboy out of his hands on final approach. I suspect that airlines position gamers on every flight and they are the ones really flying the plane, the guys in front are just terrorist decoys.

A thirteen hour ‘Angry Birds’ bender is just a warm up for the gaming man. I imagine they scuttle to their hotel in exotic lands to “Just finish this level…” They ignore any offer of food or water and sit bolt upright for the entire flight, gleefully tapping away and chuckling to themselves. Small ‘pings’ and clicks come from their earphones as they sit stock still, unaware of any clot which may be forming lower down in their legs. Having never seen one move for the toilet I can only assume that they are blessed with freakishly large bladders along with their ninja thumbs. While looking at the Gamer for signs of life my knee is bumped by

The Wanderer 

Getting up every ten minutes or so, the wanderer will never risk DVT or cramp. They have an uncanny knack of finding knees in the dark to bump, they facilitate their movement by pulling hard on the back of each headrest en route. They melt into the darkness before registering a wake of annoyed grunts being produced.

Now, I pre-booked my seats like any good commuter thinking I would be set for a decent slumber on the last leg (Bangkok to Copenhagen). I arrived at seat 29B full of promise to find seat 29A occupied by

The single mum

Yup, a nervous looking Thai lady watched me stow my bags before apologetically introducing herself…and the 10 month infant on her lap.

The long haul

I decided to do what I would if it were my niece (no, not tip Phenergan down her throat) I was polite and tried to make friends with this ticking bomb and her mother.

No success, tough crowd.

I got chatting to mum and found out that not only was she ‘The single mum‘ she was also

The exploited

I last met a group of exploited when I flew from Kathmandu to Doha in 2010. A large group of excited Nepalese men were flying to Doha for work. Little did they know they would spend upwards of 12 hours a day in forty degree (celcius!) heat building opulent mansions for rich oil barons.

The lady sitting next to me told me she was flying to the Faroe Islands (A small archipelago north of England, closer to the North pole). She looked at her daughter lovingly and told me she was moving there to marry a man who she has neither met nor knows, her eyes betrayed the story. I spend the next ten hours helping mum to keep baby happy and at the airport explaining customs procedure to her.  By the way the child turned out to be a little ‘sleeping girl’ angel and hardly made a peep, maybe she picked up on her mother’s inner turmoil.

Now on the final leg of my commute I am pleased to have avoided the worst kind of commuter:

The Guru

This guy has been to most places, he is not scared to share his philosophy with all and sundry;

“My wife and I saved for years to go to London last summer”

“Oh no…not in summer! London is faaar better in spring”

The Guru generally wears those loose cotton pants favoured by hippies (but he looks natural in them…not like other posers). Guru watches other commuters with their bumbags, safety belts and printed itineraries. He strides around airports and through immigration confident in his ability to handle anything the commute may throw at him. More often than not he will have his own blog site…


I have not met a Guru for a long time….but I do just love Denmark in the summer, you must go in the summer….


4 Responses to People on a plane

  • Gregg Love says:

    nice observations Ben …that’s a long trip Melbourne – Copenhagen[ great town] …not sure who I identify with …hey you failed to include “the drinker” …that is probably where I would feel most comfortable ….have a good one squire …I’m off to Burma/ China for a month next week …cheers the “apple kid”

  • Admin says:

    Hey Greg – Man I could have had fun adding in the drinker – you!! haha. Enjoy Burma/China mate, Im off to Switzerland on sunday for some paragliding…cannot wait!

  • Jaime says:

    I loved reading about the different types of commuters! I’ve definitely run into many of those people. I totally relate to the “Sleeping girl,” which sometimes I love, sometimes I hate. Once I hear that seatbelt click, it’s like Pavlov’s dogs. My eyes get heavy and don’t open until we land. :) Although because I’m sleeping, I miss out on meeting the Single Mums and the Exploited…

    • Ben says:

      Glad you liked it Jaime. I wrote that on a train in Denmark towards the end of a 38 hour commute…was unsure if it was coherent!

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