Trying to be as gentle as possible, I’ll just say this—I have never shared a first class cabin with someone with such poor behavior.
It started in the Star Alliance First Class Lounge at LAX. An escort arrived to take four passengers to the gate for boarding. She had advised us a half-hour prior that she would pick up at 6:45p for our 7:15p departure. An escort, of course, is not mandatory, but a nice touch and so not surprisingly, the four passengers in the lounge said yes to the service.
But when it came to go, one passenger kept three waiting. A gentleman wearing a bright turquoise shirt, white pants, and excessive gold jewelry decided he had another call to make. He knew it was time to board, he knew there were others waiting, but rather than just making the call as he walked or directing us to proceed without him, he snapped his fingers and held up his index finger, indicating that we should wait.
And so we waited. And waited. He kept talking. Talking.
Nine minutes later, he finished and we left for the aircraft. His phone rang and he stopped in the middle of the concourse to answer it. This time we all kept walking and after he saw we were several paces ahead, he began walking too.
Things Get Worse Onboard
Onboard the plane: the telephone conversation continued. He took his seat in 2K, with me across the aisle.
The door closed, we pushed back, but the man was still on the phone.
A FA politely advised him to cease his conversation, but he ignored her. As in, he made hand motions like he was swatting away a fly. I’m not joking.
The crew was extremely patient. They reasoned, coaxed, and tried to cajole him into compliance. Finally the purser appeared and sternly (but still politely) said he must end his call.
“WHY?!! WHY SHOULD I DO THAT? EVEYRONE ELSE IS SPEAKING ON THEIR PHONES!”
In a remarkably calm response to the shrill yelling, the purser looked around the cabin and confirmed to the man that no one else was making any calls.
With a sigh loud enough for business class to hear, he hung up his phone. The purser walked away and he immediately re-connected to his call…
In first class on the 747-8, a shoulder harness is required. The passenger did not want to wear his. A FA went around the cabin helping each passenger place their safety belt on. When she came to the man, she placed it on him.
He immediately took it off.
The FA said that he must wear it.
“WHY SHOULD I WEAR THIS THING? I DON’T NEED IT!”
The FA calmly explained it was a safety requirement. The man shook his head in anger as she re-applied it.
But moments after the FA walked away, he removed it again. Another FA walked by and placed it on him again. She walked away and he took it off again.
Yes, it was going to be one of those flights.
As we roared down the runway at LAX, he was still on his phone. Thankfully, his signal cut out.
He stood up, unbuckled his safety belt, and walked to the lavatory. Mind you, we were still on a fairly steep ascent.
Our Story Gets Worse: Bathing in Cologne
Our friend emerged from the lavatory barefoot and with a revoltingly strong scent of cologne. It smelled like he literally bathed in it.
I complained about my seatmate who smelled like pot last month, but this was 10x worse. The whole cabin turned to look at him. The smell was absolutely overwhelming.
A FA entered the cabin and a look of visible disgust spread across her face as she too was overwhelmed by the stench. She did not even bother to scold the man for not observing the seat belt sign. I don’t know how else to describe the smell except to say it was so overwhelming it immediately gave me a headache.
I told the FA (in German) that I could not bear the smell and she said she also had a headache and could not either. She turned on the a/c and attempted to re-circulate the air in the cabin. It worked…to the extent the smell went from unbearable to merely unpleasant, but it was still bad. Very bad.
Meal Service Issues
Let’s fast-forward a bit. Meal orders were taken and the man ordered the seafood entrée, but promptly fell asleep.
We hit an extended patch of rough turbulence, as we headed further north (we flew a Polar route) that severely prolonged the meal service. At one point, the shaking was so bad that the captain advised FAs to be seated, which is very rare on Lufthansa.
Finally we reached an area of just light chop. FAs rushed main courses out, stating that the captain had advised that we would soon be hitting turbulence again.
The man had been sleeping and thus was passed over for the caviar, appetizer, and salad course. He was awakened for the main course and flipped out, angry that he had been awakened and moments later angry that his main course was not hot enough.
It’s true, the food was not as good as usual because of the 40-minutes of turbulence. My steak was well-done. But I don’t fault the FAs. They did their best under the circumstances.
He told the FA he did not want to see her again and demanded to speak to the purser.
What do you do with a passenger like this?
The purser arrived and politely but promptly told the man that he was not to put on any more cologne.
The man, holding a Nigerian passport, went ballistic. He accused the purser of being racist. He claimed to be humiliated.
Another FA was with the purser and she did an amazing job of calming the man down. She promised she would make him a fresh dinner and even as the turbulence returned, she offered him all the appetizers he had slept through before returning with a beautifully-presented main course.
The man was happy again.
He fell asleep, I fell asleep, and we did not hear from him again during the flight. He slept through breakfast and awoke just prior to landing.
Maybe, just maybe, if the only issue had been the meal service fight I would not have been so hard on the man. But his antics in the lounge and particularly onboard the aircraft prior to pushback were so disgusting that I’d rate him as the worst seatmate I’ve ever had…
My admiration goes out to the crew who had to deal with him. Had this been a United Airlines flight he would have been kicked off so fast he would not have known what hit (or dragged) him.