Holiday Travel With Mr. Hefty & Mr. Windowseat

December 6, 2009

in Portly Stories

My flights from hell are always holiday flights, which isn’t really surprising, all things considered. My worst thus far took place just before Christmas three years ago. The airline had just recently started a feature which allowed passengers to select their seats online up to 24 hours prior to departure, but I was unaware of this and didn’t check in early. Upon checking in, I was slightly disgruntled to learn that I couldn’t sit next to my boyfriend, and we were both assigned middle seats, though luckily, very luckily as it turned out, he was sitting directly behind me. The flight was overbooked, the attendant explained, so there was no way we’d be able to sit together unless we asked passengers to switch with us once we had boarded. Nobody in their right mind would take a middle seat, so we just accepted that we couldn’t sit together. No big deal, we thought, it’s only 4.5 hours. How bad can it be?

We approached the gate and found your typical holiday flight crowd: screaming babies, shrieking toddlers, frazzled parents, frenzied suits… and one very, very, very large man. I crossed my fingers, and hoped he was sitting on the opposite end of the plane from me. Of course, as we get in line to board the plane, he noticed the seat number on my ticket and said, “oh, you’re 5B? I’m 5C! I guess you and I are going to get really cozy!!” I put on my best pretend smile and thought “oh gee, I guess my other rowmate and I are going to be seatmates, because there’s no way this guy can fit in his seat.”

We boarded almost last as we were near the front of the plane, and I met Mr. Windowseat. He looked at me with a bit of a scowl. “This is my space,” he said as he traced his finger down the centre of our shared armrest and through the air, making an invisible wall. “This is my space! I don’t let anyone in my space. I don’t let dogs in my space. I don’t let squirrels in my space. This is my space. This is MY space. This is MY SPACE!” Lovely.

So I sat down, buckled up and ensured my other armrest is down in the feeble hope that it might stay that way. No such luck. Mr. Hefty, after squeezing and grunting his way past the first few rows of seats pointed at the armrest and said “no way that’s going to stay down, woman! Like I said, you and I are going to get cozy!” He began to squeeze, push, pull and grunt his way into the row and finally sat down. His seatbelt wouldn’t fit, so he called the flight attendant to bring an extender. It still wouldn’t fit. She returned with another, eyed me and commented on these “full holiday flights, every seat filled” and got our man buckled in. His thigh was on my thigh. My foot and leg began to numb. Being a broad-shouldered man, his massive arm was right in my face. I couldn’t breathe. I leaned over to the side a bit, but Mr. Windowseat started to mutter his “This is MY space” chant. I asked Mr. Hefty if he could move just a bit. He turned as best he could and almost shouted “I ain’t some skinny guy! I can’t move anywhere! We’re all crammed in here like sardines! Why can’t you just deal with that?”

With his tracksuit fabric stuffing up my nose (which, I might add, is distressingly proximal to his armpit), immediately after takeoff I reclined the seat a bit, enough for breathing space, while being so thankful that I know the person behind me and am not spreading the hell-flight to some stranger. As soon as we were in the air, though, he started talking. And by talking, I mean complaining. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Alberta, born and raised.” I replied. “I hate Alberta,” he declared. “Albertans are so inconsiderate and stupid! In the winter, they don’t even know how to salt their roads! I swear, the dumbest Canadians are all found in Alberta.” And on it went. After ranting about how everywhere in the world is dumb and useless except for Ontario, he began to complain about the inconsiderate flight attendants, who kept brushing against him as they scurried around the cabin to bring drinks to the passengers. Why didn’t they just bring the drink cart, you may ask? Well, it’s because Mr. Hefty was spilling into the aisle so far that the drink cart couldn’t be pushed past him! And he was complaining about this!!

About halfway into our 4.5h flight, Mr. Hefty unzipped part of his tracksuit. Oh boy, that thing had really sealed in the freshness. I just closed my eyes, stuffed my earplugs up my nose (he couldn’t see my face anyway), and prayed the plane suffered no delays. I would have been the first person off the plane, but I was near the last because it took him a while to wriggle his way out of the seat and off the plane.  I have never been so happy to get off a jet, ever.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Demotage December 6, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I try to be compassionate. Like with my experience with 'like pleats of a dress", if the person is at least apologetic, I'll suffer – but if someone won't fit in their seat AND they are an ass about it, then I will demand to be able to sit in my own seat – the crew can't make you put up with someone who should have bought two seats.


Jodi December 7, 2009 at 4:43 am

I get upset when people make fun of how people eat and such. I admit it, it bothers me. But to have some jerk tell me he’s sharing my seat. No way. I’d of insisted that the arm rest stay down and he stay in his seat, or he find another flight. You have every right to your seat. You should’ve picked up the kook’s mantra and just said to the new guy “This is MY Space. Nobody comes in MY space.” LOL Learn to stick up for yourself. Don’t let crap like that happen.


Demotage December 9, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Perhaps what we should all do is to bring along a pre-printed fill-in-the-blank invoice, so we can fill in how much of our seat the other person is taking, and our airfare paid, so we can charge the interloper a pro-rated fare for the portion of our seat taken.

You'd fill it out, and then present one copy to the interloper and one to the FA.


Jennifer March 5, 2010 at 7:09 pm

What could he have possibly done if you refused to put up your armrest? I mean, they (the FA's) can't make you, can they?


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