The Top 11 Most Amazing Airline Passengers

Last week, I painstakingly compiled a list of The Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passengers. This week, a tip of the hat to The Top 11 Most Amazing Airline passengers.

1. The Full Passport Passenger of Mystery

When TFPPOM nonchalantly reaches for their tattered passport in the check-in line, you take notice. Stamps of every hue cover what little passport real estate remains—a kaleidoscope of international swashbuckling on full display.

You have never felt passport envy until now. Where have they been? Where are they going?

2. The Well-Traveled Child

Wise beyond their years, this kid has toured 72 countries extensively by the time they’re 7. What’s that you’re working on, Lil’ Johnny? A coloring book? Oh, a draft United Nations agreement for peace in the Middle East? Carry on. Might you pass the coloring book then?

3. The Former Flight Attendant

Order them a scotch. Sit back and listen. Everything you ever wanted to know about the business of flying is locked up in The Former Flight Attendant. Fancy gossip? They have plenty of that to go around, too.

4. The Seat Sacrificer

Airlines will occasionally entice a willing passenger with overnight hotel stays and other perks if they sacrifice their seat for whatever reason. This is where The Seat Sacrificer becomes somewhat of a god. Most passengers are nowhere near as flexible with their iteneries, or even concerned with the airline’s dilemma for that matter. The Seat Sacrificer is a true team player free from the chains of schedules and priorities.

5. The Returning Military Personnel

Always a heartwarming story despite your personal opinion on war. Especially if you’re lucky enough to witness the actual reunion at the terminal with their loved ones—man, powerful stuff.

6. The First Time Flyer

I can board a plane here in California and be in New York later today. Big deal. This means nothing to me. Not so for The First Time Flyer. Everything about flying is equally mind-blowing and frightening. Take offs, turbulence, landings—each event is a notch in The First Timers belt.They even pay attention to the mandatory safety presentation.

If you’re sitting window, offer them your seat. Point out the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re over Tennessee.

7. The Book Reader

The Book Reader has a certain Zen like quality to him/her. So engrossed in the details of their book, they’ll rarely participate in lengthy conversation, if at all. No chaos, no drama, no attitude. Just a good book and a long flight. Do not disturb The Book Reader.

8. The Eye to Eye

You don’t know The Eye to Eye, but you two share something special, be it callous comments directed towards a Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passenger or inside jokes on an event you both witnessed. You’re not friends. Not even acquaintances. Just kindred Eye to Eye spirits.

You’ll go hours without saying a word, but by the end of the flight, you exchange well-wishes and a few more subtle jabs at annoying passengers.

9. The Million Mile Business Flyer

The very definition of efficiency, these folks know how to fly. Given that a significant portion of their time is spent in airports and on planes, one would be wise to study their habits and techniques. Note the lack of oversized carry-ons. Ready for business. Precise. Calculated. Always calm.

One minor gripe, though, Million Mile Business Flyer: Lose the smug look on your face while cutting in front of us common folk en route to your short business class boarding line.

10. The Middle Seat Saver

Ever flown Southwest?  Then you know this trick. If the flight is not full, you and The Middle Seat Saver have an unspoken agreement to pile your stuff between you. Avoid eye contact with boarding passengers. The games we play.

11. The Roadblock

You’re about to miss your connecting flight. And nobody cares. Except for The Roadblock, who senses your desperate urgency. They’ll block traffic in the aisle to give you a jump on those few precious seconds. Good flying karma is coming your way Roadblock.

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16 comments

  1. OMG! I read these to my son and we both howled. Super funny, Eric. Maybe it’s more funny when you’re a seasoned traveler? I like the book reader. Each one was perfect – who doesn’t appreciate the seat sacrificer? They’re like airplane saints. They make the skies a little more friendly.

    1. The book reader is my personal favorite. And yes, the seat sacrificers should be inducted into sainthood. How does that work? I’ll look into it.

  2. On a flight to Portland a few years back I was caught sans credit card when the flight attendants came by with refreshments. Of course lack of foresight on my part led me to the uncomfortable moment of truth when I ordered a whisky and my cash was refused. No cash on planes. A fellow passenger came forward with his drunkard’s sympathy and offered to pay for my drink. When I went to repay the kind soul he too refused my money. I could not thank him enough. I’m not sure what you would call that, pity, sympathy or just a good hearted gesture by a guy who too feels the need for a little torch of courage to get through the monotony of cross country flying. Or maybe I just looked broke.

  3. Another great list Eric! I specialize in Seat Sacrificing, and you’re right — the rewards are AMAZING! I’m also quite skilled in schmoozing the flight staff. The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but the friendly, accommodating, and flexible wheel gets the free upgrades, unexpected layovers in interesting cites with paid accommodations, entire rows to themselves, and sometimes even free flights.

    You’re also very right about returning military personal. Incredible conversations, and often times they want someone to talk to, or really — someone who’ll listen. As you point out no matter one’s opinion of the war, one nearly always walks away from those conversations with a wider view of the world and the people in it.

    1. I think I’ll try to be the friendly, accommodating, flexible wheel next time. You said the rewards are amazing. Can you think of the best perk you’ve received so far?

      1. Once my flight from Melbourne to LA was over-booked so in exchange for my being kind enough to agree to being bumped and re-routed I was given 2 days in Bali, 1 night in Taiwan, then a flight from Taiwan to LA…these included hotel and transportation. And once on a flight to Auckland I volunteered to give my seat to a passenger traveling with an infant, and was then lead by a flight attendant to a entire row of empty seats….just for me! Very nice to have on a 13 hour flight!

  4. I was vvery upset when my old passport expired and I got a new one with none of my carefully accumulated stamps.
    I’ve been the seat sacrificer, but didn’t really get any benefit off it. Except for not being on a packed to the rafters flight.

    1. Same thing happened to my wife a few years ago when we got married. She had a nice stamp collection going. They should carry your old stamps over.

  5. How about the headphones traveler? They get on the plane and automatically put their earbuds in or large headphones to say ‘Don’t even think about talking to me, buddy.’ And yes, I’ve been guilty of this one on early morning flights or redeyes.

  6. “Point out the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re over Tennessee.” lol, you kill me. I am the flyer who is passed out in her seat for most of the flight..do I get a shout out somewhere in here? lol

    1. How do you do it? I envy your type. I’m the guy who’s up at 3:30 in the morning flipping through SkyMall for the tenth time. Only in states of extreme exhaustion am I able to sleep on planes. Flight attendant…another scotch please.

      I failed miserably at our red eye attempt last week. Hey, at least it made our first day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans even more interesting.

      1. Insane. We loved every minute of it. There’s nothing like staying out late and being woken up by a marching band warming up down the street.

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