Polly Hudson: All the ways airlines could make flying a much better experience

Japan Airlines have introduced a feature on their booking system which lets you know which seats will be occupied by babies.

This is, clearly, brilliant and needs to be rolled out across all airlines immediately. But also, why stop at screaming kids?

There are loads of other people it would be journey – if not life – changing to be able to avoid on planes.

Nervous fliers

A few years ago I was on a flight to Spain. We took off and when we got to that really high, ear-popping bit where your stomach lurches, a woman across the aisle shouted, “THAT’S IT! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

I was with some friends, so at first it was a bit funny. As time went on, less so. When there was turbulence, her proclamations became even more urgent.

As she dug her nails into her husband’s arm, screaming about our imminent demise, he started to look as if he hoped she was right, because then at least people might stop staring. 

Armrest hogs


People in new relationships

Pet names. Snogging. Eating aeroplane food in the manner of Lady and The Tramp. Should be forced to sit next to people with travel sickness, rather than making someone not afflicted puke.

People in old relationships

Seething resentment. Bickering. Heavy sighing. Should be forced to sit next to people in new relationships, to give the latter a glimpse of their future.

Noisy eaters

I mean, in some ways it’s admirable that even over the noise of an aeroplane engine, and with headphones in, we can still hear you chewing. Also admirable no one has broken your jaw. Yet.

See also: Noisy breathers.


They fall asleep as soon as they sit down, and remain so until landing, making everyone around them jealous. Sometimes, as a bonus, they snore, and/or drool, and if you’re extra lucky their head might loll about and come to rest on your shoulder.

And yes, of course they will be sitting in the aisle seat, so you’re trapped.


Some people like to chat to strangers when they travel, and that’s fine – as long as they are sitting next to someone else who likes to chat to strangers when they travel, rather than someone sane.


There’s scientific evidence that we cry more easily at high altitudes, which explains why the Julia Roberts movie Stepmom made me weep uncontrollably on a plane once.

The man in the seat next to me gave me an extremely withering look. Not cool.


Spoiler: There is no comfortable position.

People who are, or get, drunk

For them, the super fun-est way to travel. For everyone else, not so much. Hen and stag parties are not included in this, because they should have their own completely separate flights, for the good of all involved.

People with small bladders

There is an acceptable number of times you can ask someone to stand up so you can get out to go to the loo, and that number is one.

Anyone who takes their shoes off


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