Business class travelers are not always business like

Written by kvfawcett on December 23, 2010 – 11:13 am -

You think you’ve seen it all. And then, you encounter someone on a flight whom you’ll always remember. Just because a person has money and/or points or miles to upgrade, does not make him or her a good traveler.

As a matter of fact, because they’re not in the back of the plane may make people feel more entitled. Rich isn’t synonymous with well bred. Give people some slack and they may take full advantage. During my travels in coach and in business class (I buy nothing without accumulating points, hoping for an upgrade), my experience has been that the majority of people sitting in the front of the plane sleep during most of the trip.

Many are road warriors and they want to work, not to spend countess hours involved in chit-chat and prefer to be left alone. You can spot them. They travel with headphones and probably, a computer. Many drink nothing but water and some eat before they board so they can sleep from here to there.

On a recent 14+-long-trip between Kennedy Airport and Seoul, Korea on Asiana Air, a truly first-rate airline where the flight attendants couldn’t be more gracious or accommodating, I was seated across the aisle from the epitome of an ugly American. Mr. pain-in-the-neck walked and emanated a “pay attention, I am here” attitude. He didn’t like his seat, he was annoyed that wine wasn’t being served before take-off and all but asked, “Don’t you know how important I am?” People don’t dress when traveling as they used to, but this guy was plain grungy.

If you couldn’t miss seeing him, there was zero way you could miss hearing him. He was on the cell phone from the moment he sat down. I assume he wasn’t calling his wife because he repeatedly ask the person on the other line what she was wearing. After he said for the fifth time he wanted her to be wearing “only panties.” I was ready to kill. If she wouldn’t go to Atlantic City with him, perhaps her sister would welcome his company when he arrived in the Philippines. They could paint Manila red each night since he was going to be there on business. Ah hum.

When a member of the flight crew announced electronics had to be turned off, a sigh of relief was audible from people in the cabin. Mr. Pain-in-the-arse couldn’t sit still and started fidgeting with a folder filled with papers. Was he getting down to work? Think not since there were photographs of nubile young Asian women that he let fall to the floor between our seats. This was the first time I didn’t help someone collect things but I simply wasn’t in the mood. By no means am I a prude but enough was enough, merci.

The flight finally took off and Mr. Pain wanted to change seats and to sample all of the wines that were stocked. The answer to request one was no since the seats were reserved for the crew. After the other passengers were served, the flight attendants were kind enough to let my neighbor sample all of the wines plus the champagne.

Even though Mr. Pain was told the seats were off-bounds, that didn’t stop him. He made himself at home even though he was asked to return to his assigned seat. The image of what some American flight attendants might have done flashed through my mind.

Enough of my ranting. Things went from bad to worse and I was awakened at least five times as he moved around the cabin and more wine was served. And then, there was more.

Have you ever been seated next to someone who thought he’d chartered the plane and didn’t care one iota for fellow passengers; plus, was disrespectful to the crew? What did you do and did you complain? How do you avoid such pains? And no, there weren’t any other seats,

Frequent fliers expect to not love all seat-mates. But, sometimes, earphones and eye shades don’t do the trick. Who knows, he may possibly be seated next to me on my return flight. I know it’s illegal to open the door and shove people out of a plane. Ideas and suggestions please?

Posted in Consumer Traveler |