It’s about the journey not the destination, they say.
Clearly the author of this fuzzy maxim had never been on a red-eye Forida–Luton flight at the tail end of a school holiday.
Let’s try an alternative adage. Hell is other people. On a plane.
At least it’s a sentiment many of us apparently share if the meteoric success of the aviation-themed PassengerShaming Instagram feed, by a former flight attendant, is anything to go by.
Feet, the site’s photographic evidence shows, particularly irk its 600,000 or so followers. Naked feet: misplaced in the aisle, on your headrest or (eugh!) plodding into the plane toilet.
We’ll get to errant footsies in a minute but let’s begin our countdown of infuriating plane behaviour – or perhaps just plane infuriating behaviour – with arguably the least worst transgression, namely…
11) Weaponising the overhead bin
Never mind the sword of Damocles, what about the Samsonite carry-on of Damocles?
It sure feels at least as dangerous when someone shoves their bulging suitcase into the only bit of overhead bin left on the plane, which just happens to be above your precious brainbox.
Pray for only minor turbulence.
10) Call of nature
No wonder kid-free zones top many aeroplane wish lists.
I mean, how dare sprogs do what comes to them naturally, namely bawl for their mother?
Interestingly, they may be expressing what we’d all like to do three hours into your average flight.
They resemble – a little – a Wild West sheriff the way they spin that six-shooter of a phone from their pocket the second they hear the grunt of the descending undercarriage.
And don’t helpless mobile addicts have fascinating information to impart the moment they’re allowed to spark up their devices?
“I’m still on the plane!”
8) Odour eaters
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. At least, not on a plane any more. Or dinner, or even breakfast.
So it can make sense to pack your own picnic for 30,000ft.
But, please, consider sticking to cucumber and cress sandwiches rather than a gherkin and Stinking Bishop baguette that doubles as an olfactory assault weapon.
7) Talking your arm(rest) off
The odd pleasantry is fine but most of us are happy to remain, to our fellow passengers, strangers on a plane.
How can I put this? If I really wanted to know all about your hobby of ironic macrame or Irish dancing – rather than, say, leafing through the inflight flicks, getting some shuteye or worrying about all that hand luggage falling on my head – I’d probably just have taken up the pastime myself.
6) Colonising the empty middle seat
With what delicious clarity does the closed environment of an aircraft reveal the principles of supply and demand!
The way something as inglorious as an aeroplane seat can, in short supply, seem infinitely precious.
Which is why it’s wrong, isn’t it, to brazenly throw your coat, books, devices or even your slumbering self all over the miraculously spare space between us.
Let’s show cold-hearted economists they’re wrong and share the thing.
We survived the flight!
And I’m not talking about not crashing!
But can we preserve a little decorum, please, and not try to evacuate the craft, endangering small children and the elderly, like those oddballs who crash down the doors at Ikea on Boxing Day?
I mean – please! – there’s a guy trying to finish his gherkin and Stinking Bishop baguette in 52c.
4) Feet forward
“Feet exhibitionism” is a common complaint in many a survey of uncivilised plane behaviour.
“Flights are the perfect time to air these puppies out,” as the Huffington Post puts it sarcastically.
Surely it’s some kind of hideous experiment, though, to combine two such fecund sources of bacteria and go to the airplane toilet in your bare feet.
3) Smallest room on the plane
Speaking of which, what is that person actually doing in there, 10 minutes after they went in?
Writing a PhD?
They’re certainly not considering other people.
2) Seat swingers
Since when did your dinner plate jerk of its own accord towards your sternum?
Since you slid into that economy pew, my friend, and the less than perfectly empathetic passenger in front of you released his or her seat recliner just as you were washing down your chicken or fish with a plastic goblet of liquid tranquiliser.
Yo, aeroplane engineers! Stick these babies to the top of the redesign list, please. They don’t work.
1) Getting percussive with your spine
It’s scientifically proven. Or it should be.
The most predictably powerful inflight irritant is when someone – often, but curiously not always, a junior member of the flying fraternity – starts kicking a Led Zeppelin drum solo on your seat-back.
Built to save fuel, aeroplane seats are so insubstantial they’re barely there, meaning they dial any percussion up to 11.
You could always fight back by reclining the sucker.
Are we there yet?