This blog had a completely different itinerary, until it was hijacked two nights ago by the gentleman behind me in seat 42B aboard a Delta red-eye flight bound for an airport two time zones away. For a moment I wondered if perhaps this middle-aged man was on his first airplane ride. Doubtful.
Flying in the middle of the night used to have its own set of unspoken rules. First and foremost: Take your seat, buckle up, and call it a night! But somewhere between SFO and JFK, those rules went the way of complimentary on-board meal service to the land of lost luggage. My thoughtless seat mate to the rear decided to descend into the dark night with his overhead light on for the duration of the trip, as if his row was going to help navigate us onto the tarmac safely. Then he engaged his poor companion in non-stop conversation which sounded more like a deposition. He completed his cruel triage on the rest of us by playing with the wrapper of his purchased food, every crinkle, tear and peel like his own concierto of incivility.
Some people like meeting strangers, but after 10 p.m., forget about it. Save the small talk for the landing when everyone will be awake in the predawn darkness whether they like it or not. When the interior lights have been turned off, that signals slumber-time. Of course, not everyone , no matter how many sleeping pills or mask or cocktails, can nap on an overnight plane flight. If you're one of them, it is still no excuse for disregarding the public air space of one's neighbors. If you must read, or work, opt for a personal book light instead of the overhead beam. Everyone around you will thank you in the morning. And honor that code of silence - literally. If you think extending this basic courtesy to your fellow passengers is impossible, next time, book a midday flight, or take the train. And remember, 'It Manners A lot'.