Middle seat hell on a long haul flight

Last updated 07:37 05/10/2012

To the person developing teleporting technology: please hurry. I don't think I can take much more of this cattle class flying. If I was in that luxurious place we all dream of as we plebs are crammed like beasts in the back of the plane, then sure.

PLaneDo you think they purposely make us walk past business class to rub in our faces what we can't have? Here are beautiful, wide, comfortable seats with legroom and champagne. And here is yours. Your back will be upright and your legs jammed around your ears for the next 12 hours as your neighbour encroaches so far into your space you have visions of going all terrorist on their ass and stabbing them with your plastic fork.

I always look at the people in first class and think, "who are you?" I'm sorry if you're a first class traveller - but you're not normal! You look it though. There's little to distinguish the cool and collected gold members from the harangued cheap seats. I'm always on the lookout for expensive Chanel suits or caraty diamond rings. But they're not there. Perhaps they're hidden to prevent mutiny. One day I dream of being upgraded so I too can throw back smug looks as the masses hurl me death stares.

Meanwhile, I'll suffer in the back. First up - how much do we all hate the middle seat? I just got off a 10-hour flight from Zurich to Johannesburg (posts to come) in the middle and I swear: never again. If I have to throw a tantrum at the check-in counter (and it's been done before) to change seats I will. 

Because I'm a fidgeter and I have a small bladder. Basically I'm that annoying person you pray you'll never be seated next to. I have to get up a lot to use the loo and I like to stroll the aisles. My seat of choice is always, always on the aisle. But there were none left on this flight. Which made me panicky, and if possible even more fidgety.

Then the man next to me sat down (at the last minute of course - tantalising me that the seat would be empty.) And he took both his own seat rest, and our shared one. What is the plane etiquette around who gets which armrest? I am a firm believer that the person in the middle should get BOTH. It's a small reward for the worst seat.

ClimbingWorking on that premise I began my characteristic passive aggressive aeroplane behaviour. As his leg encroached into my area I shifted around until we touched. He didn't move. I shoved his leg harder. Nothing. I "accidentally" nudged his arm with my elbow on our shared seat rest. Nada. The man was immune to all tactics.

So I ramped up my arsenal: I loudly admonished Ted, on my left, to please respect my space (the poor boy was well out of my space - he knows me), drawing an imaginary line to show him where my area ended and his began.

No response on my right. The man was asleep. And he remained that way for 10 hours! So do you think I could fulfil my toilet and aisle walking needs? Absolutely not! I had to bug the man two seats down to move for me, and climb over poor sleeping Ted to get out.

The situation was heightened because I have an inability to sleep on planes (despite conking out at the drop of a hat on all other kinds of transport, including behind the wheel).

Thank goodness 10 hours of hell is over. Now to fight the jet lag.

But I can't be the only passive aggressive fidgeter in the world, surely? Who's the worst person you've been seated next to? What's the deal with middle seats? Are you entitled to climb out as much as you'd like even if people are sleeping? And who gets the armrests?!

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Images courtesy of Getty Images and Sydney Morning Herald

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