Travel reviews - airport stories arm rests


The first in a series of situational analysis pieces focusing on the airport.

This portrayal is slightly directed to those of us who have gambled and braved the wild west of air travel, budget airlines. A dog eat dog world full of passive aggressiveness and judgmental glancing looks from behind a salami and cheddar Upper Crust baguette, a solid meal in preparation for the battles ahead.

In this piece we shall skip straight to the boarding of the plane, or should I say the entrance to the colosseum. Budget airline boarding is the closet you’ll ever get to the gladiatorial essences of Ancient Rome. Only this time, no rusted spears or concealed daggers, just iPads and rolled up newspapers from duty free, a popular weapon of choice for the seasoned budget airline traveller.

So you have sat down in your faux leather, slightly narrow upright buttock holder, ready for the flight ahead. As standard you have already conducted the routine checks of the passenger next to you:


Footwear, any sign of bare feet should set alarm bells ringing.

Is a baby present? harsh but true.

  1. A keen interest in the drinks menu, especially concerning on any flight before 8am. No one needs a Gin & Tonic before 8am, no one.

Now we get into the battle of the arm rest, broken down into situations and what I like to refer to as ‘battles’, as with all battles, there is only ever one winner. There’s no worser place for a loser then in a tin can 30,000 feet above sea level with fake air and the subtle hint of body odour.


The enforcer.

Airport Stories character drawing of the enforcer

This battle initiates before takeoff, where one passenger sets their stall out early, before you even set eyes on the arm-rest, the enforcer has invaded.

The Enforcer will never make eye contact with you, they will even use their weaker, inferior left arm to retrieve any tasteless coffee or overpriced snacks from the crew.

The Enforcer knows the resentment their actions will cause, especially leaving a window seat passenger with no place for their arm, although they as long as they have ‘their’ arm rest, it’s a price willing to pay.


The Bear.

Travel stories the bear drawing


Usually a passenger of larger stature, although Bear’s can be smaller it’s just not as common. Bear in mind (pardon the pun) this battle is generally unavoidable due to larger bone structure or an affinity for the gym, budget airline seats are simply not built for Bears.

The Bear will simply smother the victim’s arm until submission. There will be a tricep or lateral deltoid in contact with their neighbor at all times from the minute both parties are sat down. Heat will slowly build-up due to the friction and both are fully aware of the contact, awkward slight movements will ensue.

The victim will always break first, if they don’t they risk a flight full of misery, focusing on the Bears encroachment for the duration will not be possible, no matter how strong minded the passenger believes he/she is.


The ninja

Travel Stories the ninja drawing

Simply put, Ninja’s live by the phrase ‘you snooze you lose’. They strike precisely at their neighbors most vulnerable moment when they are in cloud 9.

The Ninja will have clocked that sleep will be imminent, tell tale signs usually include their victim consuming a small to medium amount of alcohol to empty their glass, as they can’t risk spillages when drifting off to sleep. Also a full body movement can indicate a sleep, you know the one I mean, aiming for that comfortable spot in preparation for the sleep.

The Ninja will slowly take control of the arm-rest, not a sound, not a sudden movement, just casually regaining what they believe is theirs.

When the occupant beside them awakens, the Ninja will look over and present a friendly smile to welcome the passenger back to the real world. A smile built on the foundations of achievement and cheekiness after what they have done, the victim does not suspect a thing, more concerned about the dribble on their collar (we’ve all been there).


The Switzerland

The neutral, the compromiser or possibly a victim of an invasion on their armrest on a previous flight, the Switzerland offers the chance for both parties to relax. It could through two actions, the offering of space where the arm is placed deliberately further up or back to leave a pleather of space for another occupant.

The second action is when the Switzerland waits for contact like a fisherman waits for a bite, immediate smiling apologies will then follow the contact maybe even a slight giggle. This immediately breaks the ice and makes it clear there is room for both parties.

A kind-hearted soul who likes to give, expect to be let out of your seat to grab your luggage by the Switzerland.