are generally a preoccupation with people, but they become
even more crucial on board an aircraft! Jason Samuel enumerates
a series of his experiences to that effect
are many travellers who are petrified just at the thought
of flying. One of the reasons is that they realise that once
they are up in the air, they are closer to God than they have
ever been in their entire life, but another reason for apprehension
is the fear of who their neighbour will be on board the aircraft.
Being a frequent flyer myself, I often find myself wondering
who my neighbour will be. And among my innumerable experiences,
I have picked some of the choicest to highlight the importance
of a good companion especially on board a long-haul flight.
On my first in-flight experience, I found myself sitting next
to an Arab gentleman who couldnt speak a word of English.
He asked me to help him fill his disembarkation card. After
I helped him out, he promptly tipped me 10 dollars! At that
point I returned the money, but today I would have probably
Another time, on a flight to London I sat next to an Indo-American
lady from Gujarat who slept all the way from take off to landing.
She was by far the most boring neighbour I have ever had to
On yet another flight, I met a gentleman who was sitting on
my right and had to turn his head to hear what I was saying.
Later, I found out that his left ear drum was damaged in a
mortar attack in Vietnam. When I introduced myself, I said
my name was Jason and he said he was Samuel. He didnt
hear me properly. Later when I saw his passport, he was Colonel
Jason Samuel from the US Army. Imagine sitting next to someone
with exactly the same name!
Name n Fame
On another flight from Vancouver to Toronto via Calgary, during
the winter Olympics, I was sitting next to Barbara Walters.
Boy, was she gorgeous! I didnt know who she was, but
she had to be famous with so many co-passengers asking for
autographs. Eventually, I figured out that she was a famous
Like most men, I mainly recall my female co-passengers, so
heres about another experience from Bangalore to Mumbai.
It just so happened that I knew a lot of people on board that
particular flight and we exchanged pleasantries. Having noticed
that, this pretty lady next to me asked me if I was the Mayor
of Bangalore. Surprised, I replied in the negative and inquired
why she had asked. She explained that I seemed to be very
popular. To elucidate, I informed her that I was a nobody.
She introduced herself as Mayor of Orange County, California,
which obviously impressed me. It was only while parting ways
that she admitted she wasnt the Mayor, but a stewardess
with American Airlines.
Recently, while I was flying Delhi to Lucknow, I was seated
beside a woman who worked for Singapore Airlines, Delhi. While
chatting with her, I told her I was Indias largest miniature
aircraft model collector and have featured in the Limca
Book Of Records 2002. She expressed her willingness to add
to my collection. Now, do I wish I always have neighbours
like that on a flight.
(The author is general manager, Forvol International