The People You Don’t Mind Sitting with at 4,000ft Above.


A recent article on how airline passengers have been misbehaving was circulated worldwide, due to the express news network that is the internet. One particular article titled ‘Dear Passenger 15A’ was written by a Singaporean girl who flew to Australia with the worst experience ever. Reading her story made me realize how lucky I am for not having such experiences (so far) except of crying babies and children kicking my seats, which is still tolerable. Situations like this really suck but it also makes us wiser, more patient and tolerable. However, lets not forget also about the good people who also fly on the airplane with us and

I’ve had some not-so-good experiences and there were also good ones that makes the journey less stressful, and more memorable. It starts with good thoughts before boarding the airplane and good manners when you’re on it. This attracts good people who don’t mind sharing the seat with you in the same row and who also want the same thing (good experience when flying). And if you happen to meet these people on board, it’s always polite to say thank you and wish them happy travels before you alight the airplane.

1. The friendly Uncle. 

During one of my flight back to Phnom Penh, I sat at the window seat together with two elderly men who were traveling in a group to the Kingdom. It was a 2 hours journey and I decided to read the in-flight magazine instead of taking a nap. The man, whose aged resembled my dad’s took a glance at my magazine and asked me if I was Cambodian. I replied no and said I am Malaysian. He smiled and was happy at this remark, telling me that there were visiting the city for the Casino. He also saw the article I was reading and told me more about the untouched olden cities in China which still maintained its heritage throughout thousands of years. We spoke more about China and he even apologized to me for chatting so much during that hour but I didn’t mind it. If the company is good, you wouldn’t mind missing out on a few hours of snoozes on the airplane.

2. The shy & silent travelers. 

You would notice these travelers who are usually solo and sits quietly in the window seat looking out as the airplane prepares to depart. They usually smile and then continue to listen to music, plugging earphones into their ears and sit silently throughout the flight. These are usually students who did not pay extra to sit together with their friends, ending up sitting on their own with strangers. I’m usually happy to sit with these individuals as it gives me more ‘alone’ time during the flight.

3. The girl who needed help in filling out the arrival form.

Since I travel back and forth from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh, I’ve encountered friendly locals, namely domestic helpers who would go home for the long holidays to see their families. During one of these occasions, as the flight attendants started giving out the customs and arrival forms, the girl next to me shyly asked for my help. Even though she was Cambodian, she needed to fill up the arrival form just like us and she didn’t know how. I asked her whether she experienced such things before and she said that the last time she arrived in Phnom Penh, they held her for 2 hours because she did not fill up the form. When I asked why, she said she doesn’t know how to read and had problems writing, even in Khmer. I helped her fill up the necessary details from the information she gave me and she thanked me profusely for it.

4. The passenger who doesn’t mind changing seats with your sister. 

It would be a long 14 hours journey back to Kuala Lumpur with my sister and we wouldn’t be sitting together. I am a nervous flyer and usually I’d prefer to sit with my family or friends, even if I have to pay extra for the seats. This time I was seated behind her with a gentleman on the other end. We had the 5 seats for just the 2 of us and my sister decided to approach him to switch seats. At first he was reluctant only because he had ordered a special meal for the flight and didn’t want the arrangement to be messed up with the seat change. He agreed later on after informing the flight attendant and he was friendly about it, telling us that he understand how important sisters are. He was a gem in a dozen.

5. The well behaved child. 

This is a rare situation for me as I’ve often had seats with young children who are unable to keep still. I understand what the parents are going through having to keep them entertained and distract them from the movement of the airplane or ear pressures. There are however, on certain occasions where I’ve had to share the row with these young passenger, who behave very well throughout the flight. Often with an adult seated next to a child, this particular one was obedient and sat down quietly, not kicking his leg or climbing on the seats. His mother gave him some soldier figurines to play with and when it came to eating, he sat and ate quietly as well. The only time he was fidgety was when he had to go to the bathroom, otherwise the entire journey was extremely pleasant.

The silent travelers appreciate the scene outside the airplane windows, like this one.

The silent travelers appreciate the scene outside the airplane windows, like this one.


6. The person who understands the arm-rest rule.

Now this is tricky, especially when you’re squashed with 2 passengers on your right and on your left. This is usually my nightmare because I’ve had to given up my arm-rest and have them stationed in my seat throughout the journey. There were exceptions when the passengers next to me silently agrees to take up just one arm-rest giving me space to put my arm up when it feels tired. I do this in return as well especially if I’m seated either on the window or aisle seat as I know how uncomfortable it can feel to be in-between people.

7. The passenger who tolerates bathroom trips.

When I was flying to London with my parents, we were seated in a row of three’s, me sandwiched between them because my mother would often get up to go to the bathroom during the flight. I noticed how a couple sitting in front of us would get up and let the girl sitting in the window seat out, to the bathroom or for prayers. They didn’t mind having to both put down their earphones, fold the table and move out from their seats for her. Sometimes they would stand together at the aisle or walk around until she came back. I would often feel bad if I had to wake the person next to me from their nap, to go the bathroom and wake them again when I return to my seat. But this couple is one of those examples of tolerances I’ve seen on a long haul flight.

8. The one who doesn’t mind sharing their shoulder.

I know I mentioned that if we want to sit with good mannered people, we need to be good mannered as well. This is why I try not to fall asleep during the flight and if I plan to do so, I’d make sure I’d book the window seat so that I can rest my head on the window. There was an incident during one of my working trip abroad where I was sitting with a young lady. I was so tired and couldn’t keep my eyes open, and would doze off occasionally. I was seated at the aisle seat and didn’t realize that I had leaned over to her with my head on her shoulder. She didn’t move me and instead let me doze off before I realized that I was not on my bed. It happened in just a few seconds but I appreciate the fact that she didn’t push me. I guess if it was the other way around, I would gently nudge the person next to me when my shoulder starts feeling numb.

9. The passenger who smells nice during the entire flight.

I am always conscience about how I smell when I sit next to anyone because I don’t want to offend them. You know how sometimes we wear warm clothes before boarding and how it sometimes can get sweaty. Before you know it, you wished you would have brought a scarf smothered in perfume so that you can wrap it around your head. To avoid such an unruly situation, I’d make sure I don’t open my shoes and bring a light jacket which I would wear once we sit down during the flight. This is when I find that other passengers also share the same concerns. I’ve sat with quite a number of them who have brought along their small lotion bottle which smells like delicious cocoa butter. They would smother them on their hands and arms every time they come back from the bathroom or after the meal is served. Lets just say I’ve never had to complain about this situation when I’m in a long flight journey.

10. The lady who keeps everything neat and tidy. 

This is also one of my favorite people to sit on the airplane with as you know they won’t be putting all their handbags, carry-on bags on the floor, taking up space between us. This particular lady kept all her bags in the compartment above us, only holding on to her passport and purse. When she reads the magazines, she puts them back in the seat holder and arranges them neatly with the safety information right in front. I’ve noticed how people eat the in-flight meals as this gives you a little bit of highlight about their personal character. She did just that, folding each plastic, placing them in the container after the meal, placing the top over it as though it was new. Her table is clean and doesn’t have a speck of rice or stain on it, she even wipes it before the flight attendant comes around to collect the trash. Whenever I sit next to such individuals, I’d make sure to do the same because I appreciate their neatness.

Keep your manners and behavior in check for a splendid travel journey. 

No matter the situation that we may encounter when flying on the airplane, the most important thing is for us to do a self-check when it comes to maintaining good manners. This will not only be good on your character but make your flight and the ones sitting with you a pleasant one. There’s no point arriving in a destination set for an awesome holiday, in a sour mood after all.



 Have you ever met these people when flying on an airplane? 


About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

4 Responses to The People You Don’t Mind Sitting with at 4,000ft Above.

  1. nanatron says:

    I enjoyed reading these colorful personalities you encountered on flight. You must have travel a lot! I’m one of those silent traveller who would prefer to plug in earphone & appreciate the view. I’ve encountered a very nenek-nenek passenger who don’t know how to wear the seatbelt, so I helped her. I asked if this is her first time flying coz I’m afraid if she wud vomit. That’s one thing I can’t stand hahaha..smell of vomit & sound of barfing

    • fienuts says:

      Hi Nanatron,

      Thank you for reading this post! I travel whenever I can (when I have days off from work!). I love silent travelers because I’m like that too. Aww you’re such a nice person for helping her. Usually when there’s an elderly person sitting with me, I try to not move out to the toilet much and just sleep throughout the journey. But what you did must have helped make her feel more comfortable on the flight. 🙂

  2. I guess we cannot sit together on a plane because I like to take off my shoes, hahaha! However I do use a new pair of socks that I would change into on the flight, whether the ones provided by the airline or ones I bring myself.

    • fienuts says:

      Hi RaW!

      If you must remove your shoes in the airplane, please make sure it smells nice (somehow). Surprisingly, I’ve yet to encounter any seat-mates who does that. Hehe.

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