A close relative in New Zealand suddenly passed away and I was executor of their will. It meant I had to get there urgently and the only booking available at that time of year, without emptying my bank account, was a budget booking with Tiger Airways.
Their aircraft are not renowned for spacious seating arrangements and as luck would have it, a rather large American lady sat in the next seat. Even worse, she reeked heavily of cigarette smoke. To top it off, she was one those who can’t tolerate silence and with a breath that was reminiscent of decaying smoked fish, for the next three hours I was to hear her life story.
Not long into the flight she began to complain loudly that all flights were non smoking and how it made smokers feel discriminated against. I have formulated this theory that the closer we get to heaven, the harder God tries us – here was the evidence!
An hour into the flight she left to use the bathroom. I was enjoying the peace when after only 30 seconds my nightmare travelling companion returned in tow of a flight attendant, protesting loudly that Tiger Air should have a smoking area on flights. All eyes were on the pair as they came up the aisle. Everyone wanted to see who she would be inflicted upon.
As they neared me, the attendant steered her skilfully to her seat and she flopped into it. The resulting effort momentarily silenced her. While there was a gap in her complaining he pointed to the plane’s exit across the aisle and said in a polite clear voice, for all to hear, “Mam you are welcome to step outside if you feel the need to smoke. I’m sure the flight crew would be happy to provide you with a parachute!”