I’m not particularly well-travelled, but I’ve been on enough business trips abroad to have learned that there’s a natural delay between the plane coming to a complete stop at its gate and you being able to physically disembark. This is to be expected. The crew have to do all their checks and the ground crew have to wheel the stairs over or get that weird proboscis thing to attach over the door. Sometimes there aren’t even stairs available right away – they have to wait for them to arrive. Then you have to wait for the passengers in front to gather their belongings and file out ahead of you. Basically, it can take anything from 5–15 minutes for the doors to open, and even longer for the plane to empty enough for an exit opportunity to present itself. So I thank my lucky stars that I’ve got a seat to relax in and that magazine to flick through while all this malarkey is going on.
Alas, I appear to be the only one who thinks this way because everyone else is straight to their feet the minute the single “ping” sounds (see here). Tall men hunched over in awkward stoops, fat people assuming unnatural stances, semi-hysterical women opening the overhead locker as if their possessions may dematerialise should they wait too long to claim them. WHY??? THE FUCKING DOORS ARE LOCKED!!! THERE’S NOWHERE TO GO!!!!
“Well, perhaps some people want to stretch their legs after a long flight” you may be thinking. Fuck off. This phenomenon is just as bad, even worse maybe, on short hault flights. And even if you’re long-haul, you were happy to sit down for 8 hours, an extra 10 minutes is hardly going to induce a thrombosis. And there’s absolutely no opportunity for some quality stretching anyway. There’s no room! We’re on a plane and everyone’s had the same stupid ‘standing up’ idea!
I prefer a window seat not for the view, but to avoid the fallout of this particularly bizarre and pointless routine. Because if I’m on an aisle seat, you can almost guarantee someone on my row will stare at me expectantly for me to move, or even cheerfully ask if I would mind shifting myself so they can retrieve their belongings. WHY?! Or more pertinently, HOW? The cabin has filled full of morons like you – there’s NO FUCKING ROOM. And even if I do miraculously find the space to awkwardly position myself in the aisle, where exactly are you hoping to go? The only space now available is right in front of the seat I just vacated! THE SEAT I WOULD PREFER TO BE SITTING IN RIGHT AT THIS FUCKING MOMENT IN TIME! All you’ve done is force me to join you in an uncomfortable semi-stoop when I could be hating you from a seated position instead!
And for the few that meet success, that achieve their unfathomable aim of retrieving their hand luggage and then stooping in the aisle with cramp for half an hour, ready to disembark, do me a favour: look at me. I’m the one sitting in my seat just to the right of you. I stayed there despite the plane having stopped because I recognised that the exits weren’t open yet. Even when the doors were opened, I stayed put, because I noticed that there were several human beings obscuring my path off the vehicle. Now look at the rows ahead. Do you see how people are stopping to allow people off their seats? They’re even giving them time to retrieve their hand luggage. Now look back at me – notice my apparent comfort as you struggle with your sciatica. I rise from my seat the moment a space opens in front of me and gracefully retrieve my possessions before marching down the aisle uninterrupted towards the exit. I’ve got off this plane at almost exactly the same time as you, but I didn’t inconvenience anyone or make my wait needlessly uncomfortable in the meantime. That’s how you do it, you fucking cretin. I hope I’m not a passenger on your next flight – because I want that flight to crash.
(The holiday was nice, by the way.)