Flying inexplicably turns normally polite people into angry monsters


(This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail)

WHY do so many people become monsters the moment they enter an airport?

Each time they have to wait or speak they sigh loudly, as if the hardship involved in being denied a window seat is the worst thing that’s ever happened to them.

One phrase I’ve never heard at an airport is “excuse me” especially as my toes are being pulverised by wheeled luggage that’s supposedly carry-on yet weighs as much as a baby elephant.

New rule: If it needs to be wheeled, it isn’t carry on.

Then there’s all the pushing-in, freaking-out and shoving at baggage collection carousels.

Are people worried that their bags will evaporate if they’re not claimed on their first time around?


On the plane, the complaining continues.

When takeoff is delayed, the seat belt sign is on for too long or there’s no more red wine.

I’ve even heard people argue after they’ve been politely asked to stop singing, to keep their kids from running rampant and not play cricket in the aisle.

Last year I was working on a remote mine site, and we flew home for Christmas during a mammoth storm in a tiny plane. It was so small it had propellers.

There was rain, wind and lightning and the plane was being tossed around like confetti by the turbulence.


When we made an unscheduled stop to refuel and for a safety check, about half the blokes began loudly swearing and whingeing.

What’s the one thing achieved by complaining on a plane during a storm? Nothing. Apart from making a tense situation even worse.

If they hadn’t been all twice my size and I hadn’t been paralysed with fear, I might have said something.

New rule No. 2: If the plane is refuelling during rain and lightning, you shut up unless you’re on fire. 


At university, I studied mechanical engineering. As part of that degree I learned how planes manage to fly.

At the end of the lecture, a professor told us that an aeroplane is a speeding aluminium tube that’s tossed around in very strong winds that nobody can predict and if anything goes wrong, you die.


According to the facts, flying is amazingly safe – much safer than drinking, genetically modified soy beans and Christmas decorations.

But I’ve never seen a movie where a beer, a soy bean or a piece of mistletoe crashes into a mountain and causes everyone on-board to be consumed by a gigantic ball of death-fire.

Thousands of planes take off and land every day, and it’s a miracle that they so rarely drop out of the sky, or anything goes wrong at all.

A massive part of the reason so few planes go splat is the extraordinarily tight safety regulations.

So what if you miss your connection, a meeting, the football, your wedding? That’s just bad luck – a plane is never delayed because of some personal vendetta.

New rule No. 3: Planes not going splat is more important than football.

So can everyone please stop acting like brats at the airport.

Also, always shower before you fly – think of your poor co-passengers.

New rule No. 4: Smelly people stay home.

This article first appeared in The Brisbane Courier Mail:

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