Competitors in the air

FLYING to Townsville. From Brisbane. It’s only an hour.

I can sit for an hour, even if I am sandwiched between a sumo wrestler on one side and a fridge with a perm on the other.

How come they have two armrests each and I don’t have any? That can’t be right.

And how am I supposed to adopt the brace position?

This is the bit where, in the event of a crash, you rest your arms on your knees and your head on your arms. You do this because, when the crash comes, death will be instant as your neck snaps; or your head will be driven in to your chest by the seats in front of you as they telescope their way towards the rear of the aircraft.

Really, they might as well tell a battery hen to go for a long walk.

I want to go to the lavatory, but I’m in the middle seat of three –– the worst position, I can’t look out the window, I don’t have the extra bit of space the aisle provides, I don’t have any armrests, and I want to go the lavatory. Not badly. Yet.

But there are 180 people on this plane, plus the crew. They all look respectable… well, except the fridge with the perm, maybe… but how do I know what their toilet habits are. And I can only see one toilet. What happens to an aircraft toilet if it gets overloaded with… stuff?

I don’t want to find out; but now I’ve made that decision I really want to go to the toilet.


I hate going to the lavatory on airplanes. Everybody knows. You can’t just sidle out of the room for a moment or two, leaving your wife to tell the guests you’re putting the cat out. You have to walk the length of the aircraft. You might as well have a placard saying: “I’m going to the lavatory.”

What happened to aircraft travel? It used to be fun. There used to a sense of adventure and bonhomie. We used to smile at the passengers in the neighbouring seats and swap travel stories. Now we avoid eye contact at all costs in case they smile and swap travel stories. We try to get our arms on the armrests faster than they do. We take as much baggage as we can and we stuff it into lockers and under seats with complete disregard for whether we’ve left any space for anyone else.

When we land at our destination we are out of our seats like a flock of startled pigeons despite the fact there is no way out until they open the doors, and that when we do get out we’ll still have to shuffle about waiting for the luggage to arrive through the little hole in the wall.

We are no longer fellow travellers; we are competitors. There must be another way!

Personally I reckon the airline industry has been going the wrong way. Someone needs to start an airline with fewer seats, more armrests and lots of toilets. Sure, it’ll be more expensive. But at least we’ll enjoy it.

The fridge with the perm is talking to me while I type…

“Scuse me, love.. dja moind shiftin’. I wanna use the toilet.”

Damn. Damn, damn, damn!