Apr 102011
Authors: Lydia Jorden

Unfortunately, air travel is common. This means that a passenger’s chance of being approached by, sitting by or merely being exposed to a freak traveler is high. It is important to be aware of a few unfavorable encounters you may have on an airplane so you can supply yourself with the right tools to travel successfully.

On a flight home from New Jersey to Colorado, I was expecting an extremely muscular, bodybuilding man to sit next to me. This is a man who had oiled up his body before getting on the plane. He would charm me into becoming a member of the Mile High Club, give me the rejection hotline number and then never talk to me again (all ideas cemented in my mind from “Jersey Shore” episodes). In comparison to my actual experience, the rejection hotline is looking damn good.

The doors to the plane closed. The lone and empty seat next to me was cold and desolate, but being the anti-skin contact individual I am, I felt happy. I was so lucky I got to sit alone. I wore the cheesiest grin until I saw a man the size of my horse waddling toward me. He was not necessarily fat, just extremely large. His body spilled into my seat, leaving me clawing at the window for comfort. I was trapped.

I remained in this uncomfortable position for the remaining two hours.

I understand purchasing two seats can be costly. However, if your body type prohibits you from remaining in your seat, you should be paying for half of my ticket. After all, you are taking up half the seat I paid for. It is simple logic.

I finally got what I wished for when I boarded the connecting aircraft that was heading to Colorado. I moved further and further into the back of the plane. I took my assigned seat next to a woman setting up what looked like a living room. She had actually purchased two seats.

She set up a mini-bed, equipped with three pillows and a shelf with a lunchbox on it. An outsider would think she was going on a 60-hour plane ride — it was only three hours.

Now, based on my previous story it seems I would be excited. After all, she knew that she would take up more space and had courteously purchased two tickets. However, her constant sneezing from whatever cold/disease she carried, coupled with her drool when she finally did fall asleep, reminded me of how important it is to be respectful of other people around you — especially in a space as confined as an airplane.

I will spare you the details of my other “freak-passenger” encounters as I consider my experiences a lesson learned.

From now on, I will call my doctor to schedule an appointment the day I return from all vacations. You never know when someone will squash you to the point of no existence or what disease you will catch from a constant nose-blower.

If you ever see me in an airport, do not be alarmed when I am clutching a poster board. It will be the most beneficial carry-on luggage, as I will set it up between others and myself. The board will act as a shield between me and someone’s body, between me and someone’s snot and between me and insanity.

Pearls of wisdom: When you are on a plane, you are in public. Act like it.

Lydia Jorden is a sophomore business major. Despite her phobia of being touched, she enjoys snuggling with her airplane neighbor. Her column runs Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:45 pm

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