Flying is fun!

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First published 10th July, 2012

Here at we fly quite a bit. Luckily it is just about all short-haul, but that doesn't stop some of our fellow passengers from trying to make it just about as long-haul as possible. Here are some of the more common methods people use to make sure your flight is as interminable as possible.

Booking a flight

Book as late as possible
By doing this you should just about guarantee that you'll pay the highest fare possible -- hopefully at least as much as a full service carrier -- which will, of course, be full by the time you realise the low cost carrier is not really low cost at all anymore.

Time for last goodbyes.
Time for last goodbyes.

Always book a window seat
By booking a window seat you are able to maximise disruption for the other passengers in your row. If on a wide-body aircraft, aim for either window seat or the centre seat in the middle of the row.

Always book towards the rear of the aircraft
This is important in order to improve the likelihood that the overhead lockers will be full and to guarantee the longest possible boarding and deboarding time.


Don't commence packing till taxi is out front
While this will slightly inconvenience the driver, the bigger benefit here is to increase the odds that you will forget to pack your passport, ticket or ukelele. For bonus points, don't get out of bed till the cab arrives.

Always pack something organic
Leftover curry or a slice of durian are always great prospects for problems during the trip.

Wear all your metal jewellery
Bracelets, anklets, toe rings and metal tiaras are all valuable during the check-in process. There is no such thing as too much, but ideally spread it across different parts of your body to maximise the number of times you have to go through the X-ray. Bonus points for chainmail.

Chainmail is at the cutting edge of flying fashion.
Chainmail is at the cutting edge of flying fashion.

Wear sandals that have a metal strip in them
Fake Birkenstocks are the best for this. Be sure to look blankly at security staff for as long as possible when they tell you to take them off. Ideally insist they have no metal in them to prolong the conversation.

De-metal when standing in front of first X-ray machine
Do not remove anything till the last possible moment. Ideally try to walk through the X-ray wearing it all to maximise the delay. Only remove the material they ask you to remove.

Checking in

Do not print out your ticket
Airlines want you to print out your ticket to minimise check-in time. This is exactly why you should not print off your ticket. And whatever you do, don't write down your booking number.

Spend as long as possible in queues.
Spend as long as possible in queues.

Don't have your passport nor ticket at check-in
The first thing the check-in staff will ask you for is your ticket and passport. Have neither ready. Ideally you don't have your ticket at all and your passport is at the bottom of your sofa-sized wheelie bag.

If the airline offers kiosk check-in, don't use it
Designed to speed up the check-in process,these are just silly. Avoid and stand in the queue -- especially if you have no luggage to check.

Make sure your luggage is overweight
If you have an allowance of 25kg, pack at least 35kg to make sure they stop you, then feign shock when you're informed you are overweight. Be sure to unpack on the spot to get below weight.

Ideal carry-on luggage.
Ideal carry-on luggage.

Departure tax
Don't have payment ready for departure tax. Try first to pay with a credit card. Hopefully that will not be acceptable so try to pay in any cash currency not accepted in the country of departure. When they relent and allow you to pay in Martian ingots, quibble over the exchange rate.


Never ever fill out the departure card
While the best approach is just to lose your departure card, if you managed to keep it, be sure to hand it to the immigration officer uncompleted. Make sure you don't have a pen and ideally ask the immigration guy for theirs then try to pocket it.

Always overstay
The perfect overstay is three to four days, as it won't cost you too much. Of course, when you are informed of the overstay, be sure to pull out a Rough Guide or Lonely Planet at least ten years out of date and point to the pertinent section where you are entitled to a 743-day stay. See "Departure Tax" above for what to do when it comes time to pay the fine.


Don't head to lounge until gate is closed
Once you've jumped through all the above hoops, go and sit in a bar and drink as much beer or water as possible. Ignore all calls to board. Don't move until an attendant comes in and asks are you supposed to be on the flight. See "Departure Tax" above for tips on what to do when you have to pay for your drinks.

Have at least one litre of non-sanctioned water
This will be confiscated at the boarding gate, so feign horror, then stand there and drink all of it. This is important later when you need to go to the toilet every five minutes.

It pays to let everyone else on first.
It pays to let everyone else on first.

Be the last to board
This is crucial in order to have the best chance of a) someone sitting in your seat, b) no overhead locker space and c) the other two seats being occupied.

On board

Put all luggage in overhead locker. Everything.
Wallet, handbag, the lot. Ideally the locker closest to your seat will be full so you need to spread your bags over many lockers. Only this way can you be sure to annoy as many of your fellow passengers as possible.

Stow everything.
Stow everything - and everyone.

Once seated, use your smartphone incessantly
Tweet stuff like, "Hey I'm on a plane" -- your followers will love you for it. Continue to use your phone until you've been asked at least three times to turn it off. Once you do turn it off, insist that the other passengers stand so you can stand up to place it in the locker. As soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, ask them to stand again so you can retrieve it.

Once in the air, as soon as seatbelt light is off go to the toilet
Because you have drunk so much, your pee capacity will be high. Don't linger. Instead head back as soon as possible so that you are sitting down again when you realise there is more pee to come. With two litres drunk you should be able to spread it over at least four visits in twenty minutes. Be sure to be depleted before the food cart, though as you don't want to combine stands.

Annoy fellow passengers by using a camera that may interfere with the aircraft's navigational equipment.
Annoy fellow passengers by using a camera that may interfere with the aircraft's navigational equipment.

Food and drink
Buy something on every occasion the cart goes past -- after retrieving your wallet from the overhead locker and don't forget to replace it back up there -- but only after the other two seats have ordered meals and started eating. Repeat every time the cart passes. Make sure you have a currency they don't accept.

Inflight entertainment
Just be an ass: Angry Birds, no earphones.


As soon as the plane lands, turn your phone on
This is important as it will absolutely annoy your fellow passengers. If you're in luck and someone says something to you, ask them to prove that the phone interferes with the aircraft's navigation and anyway, you're on the ground. Make sure you only have this exchange with passengers smaller than you.

Obviously time to stand up.
Obviously time to stand up.

As soon as the plane has stopped get up
When the other two in the row don't move, courteously barge past them. Get all bags then stand in aisle for at least 20 minutes. Bonus points if a flight attendant tells you to sit down.

Don't fill out the arrival card
As with the departure card, do not have any documentation ready. If the country has a visa on arrival program, ignore it and just queue at immigration. When they tell you you need a visa, get the guidebook out and explain to them how they are in fact wrong.

Don't declare the leftover curry nor the durian. When you get caught, ask to be told where it says you cannot pack leftover curry.

Always change all of your money at the very first exchange kiosk
The kiosks at airports always offer the most competitive rates. You should change all your cash at the very first kiosk that calls out to you.

Never use official taxis
Official taxis are a government conspiracy to defraud tourists. Never use them -- especially if the rates are clearly displayed on the wall.

What on earth were you thinking flying?
What on earth were you thinking flying?

Heading home

Rinse and repeat.

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Read 5 comment(s)

  • Covered by the photos, but not the text in the article:

    Bring a baby. Preferably one that has an ear infection, a cold or is teething. Or better yet, all 3 at once! Then hold them in your lap to make sure they are within reach of the person in the seat in front. Ensure this person has a good head of hair. Let the baby reach out to get a good fistful. Let the baby pull as hard as possible.

    Next to the baby, sit your bored, incorrigible 3 year old. Preferably one one that has a good kicking foot. Allow them to kick the seat in front continuously throughout the flight, without reprimand. When the 3 year old gets bored and needs to run a victory lap around the plane to burn off that energy, encourage them to hang off the seat in front as they squeeze past you and the baby. Rinse and repeat.

    (OK, OK, you can tell I don't have kids. On my flight home, I had 3 babies near me: one next to me, one in the row in front and one in the row behind. To be fair, they weren't that bad - but I do wish the parents would at least teach them synchronised crying, not sequential!

    Posted by busylizzy on 11th July, 2012

  • The small child in the overhead locker was not crying WHY? No 2. Never ever shower before boarding an aircraft some how people close will never engage in conversation!Good luck to all of you travelling
    Aussie Moreton

    Posted by Chris Woods on 12th July, 2012

  • If possible take small children with you. Sulky teenagers will do. put them together but don't feel the need to look after them check their behaviour, after all they are on holiday. Encourage them to get exercise by kicking the seats in front.

    Posted by violets on 12th July, 2012

  • I have to disagree with you on 'Boarding Last', or at least on flights with assigned seats.
    Why would you want to spend one second longer enjoying all those in-flight delights you guys have just described?
    Much more enjoyable to hang out in the lounge giggling at the sheep queueing in front of the desk before boarding has even been called.
    And then stroll on down the empty gangway after all those people are seated. Haven't missed one yet.

    Posted by Ben on 12th July, 2012

  • When you're waiting to collect your baggage, ensure your entire family is crowded as closely as possible to the conveyor belt, so no-one can see the baggage circulating or easily remove it without elbowing past you. Under no circumstances have a nominated baggage collector while the rest of the party stand out of everyone's way.

    Posted by Abigail on 18th July, 2012

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