Don't sit so close to me

I'M sure you know the feeling. You're sitting in your seat in the plane, watching passengers walking down the aisle, wondering who'll be sitting next to you. And hoping like heck it won't be ... the guy who looks as though he's been partying for a week or the lively group of children, or the huge jolly woman carrying half a dozen bags.

All of those types are found on most flights and I'm not sure which I'd least like to sit next to.

I do recall a flight to Australia where I was surrounded by out-of-control kids who if they weren't kicking the back of my seat were banging into my shoulder as they wrestled for some toy. That was an irritating experience. And possibly the most irritating bit was the parents' repeated cries of "Don't do that Dudley" or "I've told you to stop that Roxanne".

Another time, on a flight to the US, I had the window seat and the aisle was occupied by a delightful woman who was a bit too large for the allocated space.

We enjoyed a very entertaining dinner with plenty of wine and she promptly went to sleep. Very heavily. Unfortunately this meant that when I needed to go to the toilet I couldn't get out.

Eventually a steward helped me clamber over her via the seat arms and I spent the rest of the flight in the kitchen ... until she finally woke up as we were about to land.

But it could have been worse ... and one day it probably will be.

Online travel search site Skyscanner recently did a survey to find out who passengers most dread to sit next to and, interestingly, top of the list with 35 per cent of the votes was someone with bad body odour. I think the nearest I've got to that is sitting beside a woman who was smothered in bad perfume.

Second on the list, chosen by 20 per cent of respondents as the type to avoid at all costs, was an overweight person. That's a problem that's often raised.

A few airlines have tried to deal with it by requiring passengers over a certain size to buy two seats. But large people counter that airlines are trying to squeeze people into too small a space.

Third equal, shunned by 15 per cent, was a drunk adult or a sober baby/child. I have sat next to a few drunks but every time they fell asleep pretty quickly and were no trouble at all.

Children are more of a mixed bag. I've sat beside some who were perfectly charming and others in need of a bit of discipline.

All in all I'm not sure what kind of neighbour I most dread? I'll have another think and come back to you.

>> Read more travel stories.

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