There are few things lonelier – yet strangely more glamorous – than sitting on a plane by yourself, gazing out at the beautiful, messed-up world beneath, with only metal, avionics, and the luggage that will get lost en route to baggage reclaim separating you. Better, then, to fly as a duo, to share the magic and, speaking practically, have an extra pair of eyes tracking the cabin crew’s progress with the refreshments.
But you can’t have fun without rules. And if you’re traveling as a pair – or more if you’ve been blessed with a couple of little passengers of your own – you need to make sure you’re doing it right.
Be on time! A lone passenger holding up a flight can be forgiven, or pitied, for lacking a nagging partner to hurry them along. A chattering couple breezing on board like they’re combing the aisles of Whole Foods for coconut pressé, however, will be vilified the entire flight. And rightly so. Take your seats as quickly as possible before your fellow passengers start throwing hand luggage at you.
Apparently you should always wear something comfortable for a flight, especially long haul. If you’re a couple, why not wear something matching? Velour tracksuits are always good, or a cartoon character onesie. No particular reason for this, really; it just breaks up the day for the cabin crew.
Never underestimate the sadism of your fellow passengers; they might move so you can sit together, they might not. Best not argue with them because, hello, you’re stuck on this tin can together for at least an hour or two. Be irritating enough during the flight – leaning over passengers to give your other half the contents of their carry-on one item at a time, for example – and someone will give in.
You must either both wear headphones, whether watching in-flight entertainment or not, or neither of you should. Politeness aside, why? Well, it means fellow passengers won’t have to hear you say everything three times. First when their headphones are on (because you forget), again when they take them off, then a third time, louder, because they didn’t hear you the second time either.
Although flying negates the need for a designated driver, it’s a good idea to be designated conscious upon landing. If the cabin crew hand you the correct drink before you’ve even asked, you’ve had too many. Boozing on a plane within a couple has the dangerous magical effect of making everyone else vanish – but they’re still there, praying for a change in cabin pressure that will render you inaudible for the rest of the flight.
However you divide your parenting roles at home, a plane is filled with the most humorless, judgmental village elders any witch trial could ever throw at you. You can’t pretend your noisy baby is nothing to do with you; normal routines are null and void. Take turns with lap and feeding duties, make eye contact at fellow passengers with your best serene “I dare you” smile, and pretend you’re the happiest family unit ever. You can do this. Crack midair and your passengers will be telling stories about you to captivated audiences for generations to come.
No, you can’t just plonk them in economy and live it up in business. No.
Forget about the Mile High Club. It doesn’t matter how far you are from the ground – sex in a windowless public toilet is exactly that. Waiting in line for the restroom on a plane is already stressful – it’s impossible not to be in someone’s way, you can hear everything, and oh hello, turbulence. It’s unfair to take upward of five minutes in there just so you have a basic story to tell… well, who exactly? Who will you regale with this saddest of exploits? Facebook?
It’s a good idea to keep plane chat lowkey and upbeat – what to do when you get there, how you’re looking forward to the hotel’s towel origami. On the flipside, it’s also a perfect opportunity to get any bad news out of the way. “Oh, um, the deluxe room was double-booked so we’ve got the first three nights in a tent by the kitchen dumpsters.” Or perhaps: “It’s true about me and Steve from the office, but it’s over now; it was purely sexual.” Why? Nobody wants to argue on a plane – it’s bad manners, plus a really easy way to get arrested, especially after those post takeoff vodka-tonics.
There’s no rule that you and you partner must order different meals and share to “get a taste of each.” It’s plane food, not a Michel Roux tasting menu. Feeding one another is only romantic when it’s strawberries, you’re swathed in satin and its 1987, not teasing each other with a seeded bread roll while the rest of Row 11 tries desperately to poke out their mind’s eye.
Agree before flying that neither of you will be that person who stands immediately the front wheels touch tarmac. The disappointment at not having disembarked yet heightens, the other half feels duty bound to stand up too, and you end up just… standing there, awkwardly, for eons. Just sit and have the first kiss of your vacation – everyone else will be too busy jostling for a speedy exit to care.
Justin Myers, also known as The Guyliner, is a writer and columnist. His first novel, “The Last Romeo,” was published in 2018, with a second, “The Magnificent Sons,” coming spring 2020.