Talkative Traveler in Seat 1A

January 20, 2014

in Senior Stories

I was flying United from ORD to LAX and upon boarding was pleasantly surprised to find that I was upgraded to First Class. My inner elitist crept up as I walked along the ramp, embracing for whatever reason the façade and aura that this is how I usually fly.

I step onto the plane to find a full First Class cabin except for my beloved seat, 1B. Strange, I thought, that I was upgraded. I could have sworn First Class was full when I checked.

Seat 1A housed a seemingly friendly older gentleman who was trading sips between his Extra Large Auntie Anne’s Coke and his iced water. Pulling the seat belt aside, I sat down with my tote/purse on my lap and prepared to take out whatever entertainment devices I had readied before my flight before putting it away in the overhead compartment.

“You don’t fly First Class a lot do you?” the gentleman in 1A bellowed out. The probability that any conversation between the two of us would stay between 1A and 1B had shot out the door.

“Ha-ha,” I sheepishly replied. “No, I got lucky today.”

“Let me grab that for you,” 1A says as he swoops my tote from my lap and shoves it into the overhead compartment. “Oh and this,” as he grabs my jacket and hangs it up in the back as if stowing personal items differs greatly between First Class and Economy. “First First Class experience eh? I fly a lot – always First Class. It’s the only way to fly.”

Oh no.

“Oh, what is it that you do?” I said, still unsure of whether or not I should oblige in this conversation that was most certainly headed for disaster.

“I’m a lawyer.”

HA. All the while, the flight attendants are giving me sympathy stares and are overly attentive during the in-flight service which I appreciated.

So while the on-boarding process dragged on, here’s what I (and everybody else in that cabin) learned about 1A:

• The cup of iced water he was sipping on was actually vodka on the rocks. He proceeded to have 2-3 more during the onboarding process. I’m pretty sure he had already had 2 prior to my boarding. He was piss drunk by the time we took off.

• He was in the middle of a divorce and was dating someone else who he loves and calls “kid.”

• While on the topic of divorce, he offered to give me some sage wisdom on dating (I made the mistake of telling him that I had a boyfriend when he asked).

• “LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING,” the control over the volume of his voice was waning the more he sipped his cup. “It’s not just about the HOT SEX. What? No, you don’t have to look away. It’s alright. OK? Listen, it’s not about the hot sex. That’s fine and everything but you need someone who will be THERE FOR YOU. OK? Just listen to me. I’m an old guy, I’ve been through it.”

• He also seemed to lose control of his limbs the more he was inebriated as his arms somehow kept flailing over to my seat.

• He likes listening to music on full blast and is unaware when his headphones fall out of his ears as he’s passed out.

• His oldest son is a Harvard grad who majored in English and is still a “disappointment.”

• He thinks that unbuckling his belt on the flight is an appropriate thing to do in the midst of his drunken stupor.

• He believes that being Chinese and Asian are mutually exclusive identities.

• “Are you Chinese or Asian?”

• “I’m Taiwanese.”

• “No, I know what Taiwan is. I’m not stupid.”

• His third child is not his mother’s favorite because he was adopted and he needs to get over it. (He didn’t tell me this directly. This sentiment was told directly to said child.)

Also he kept grabbing my hand when he was imparting his wisdom upon me, to which I flinched and pulled my hand and body away.

Needless to say, I would’ve gladly taken my original Economy Plus seat over this disaster but at least it makes for a good story.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

mrsjamiecbaker January 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

My usual defense on a plane is a book to bury my face in, ear buds to block out the noise, and zero eye contact with anyone but the FAs. I think my tiny defenses would have immediately failed with this guy. Definitely not worth the upgrade 🙂


Karl February 1, 2014 at 9:04 pm

In a case as yours I would simply say: Sir, I have a lot of thinking to do and can't have conversation with anyone at this time. This will shut him off.


Diablo August 18, 2016 at 10:52 pm

Dang, sorry you had to endure this.


Nick May 21, 2018 at 1:25 am

Why do we have to be so it’s to these people

Sir I do not wish to engage in confession with you … please to not talk to me during the flight ….. firm and not rude


Nick May 21, 2018 at 1:28 am

Why do we have to be so polite these people

Sir I do not wish to engage in conversation with you … please to not talk to me during the flight ….. firm and not rude


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