Bad neighbours on a plane can be hell, but Courtney Whitaker has the cure.
He was adorable. So well-behaved, so inoffensive, that we were quite relieved to have this little boy take the last seat in our row of three. We were flying Marseille to Marrakech on Ryanair, an almost three-hour jaunt in average comfort. But that's okay, we were prepared. We'd even brought our own baguettes and reading material to keep us going.
"He's cute!" I whispered to my partner, as the boy, of no more than 5 took out a colouring book and began quietly occupying himself. Ah yes, the coveted perfect seat neighbour.
About 20 minutes into the trip, his mother, seated in the row adjacent, handed him a lunchbox and the boy began to munch on a sandwich. She nodded at us, thanking us for keeping an eye on him while she entertained her younger twins. Cute.
And then. The little boy turned grey ... then green. His head stayed buried in a sick bag for the remainder of the flight, groaning and squirming in utter discomfort. So not cute.
And there we were, sandwiched into the seats next to him, powerless to help, with even less help from the flight attendants, who were busy trying to hawk off expensive bottles of perfume and rubbery paninis.
Look, it wasn't the best flight, but really, this small inconvenience pales in comparison to an 11-hour flight in the middle seat, in the most-dreaded middle row. So what to do with a less-than-ideal seat neighbour on a flight?
Grin and bear it? Passenger-shame them?
It would appear it's hard to get away with much on a flight these days. Do you snore? Do you laugh too loudly? Your life is officially over.
Passengershaming.com is just one platform disgruntled passengers are using to air their distaste of other passengers.
"Just make yourself comfortable sir, it's the couch in your living room," declares one poster under an image of a man sprawling across a row of seats.
Another picture shows a rather amorous couple kissing in the row in front of the photographer.
"Oh come on. It's two people kissing. It's not like it's feet," says a commenter.
Oh, those feet. This site is a veritable smorgasbord of foot photos in all their glory: big feet, nude feet, feet on TV screens, feet encroaching on your space, Premium Economy feet, feats of contortionism. The picture of the guy clipping his toenails mid-flight, I'll admit, is a step too far, but let's be real: is there any such thing as the perfect passenger?
A 2016 survey by The Independent lists people who smell (59 per cent), seat-kickers (54 per cent), and, my personal favourite, incredulous parents (53 per cent), as the absolute pinnacle of annoying plane passengers. Those who remove their socks are also highly rated — or, should I say, hated. "Mr Chatty Man" is up there on the list of inflammatory behaviours, as are faffers, snorers, overhead-locker hogs and frequent toilet-users.
But are we just overthinking this? Are we too quick to take to social media when annoyed?
Perhaps not. The hashtag #passengershaming on Instagram contains more than 6000 posts. And the disgruntled are not only in cattle class. Judging by some of the pictures under this hashtag, people in Business Class also enjoy the exhilaration of being shoeless at 30,00 feet.
At some point, it seems necessary to accept that, in order to fly, we are all crammed into a tin can together, and that you might, unwittingly, irritate your fellow passenger.
There are some behaviours that can be helped though. People who are rude to flight attendants? Around 37 per cent of those surveyed agreed they should not be tolerated and a further 12 per cent cited "Passive Aggressive Complainers", the eye-rollers, if you will, to be unbearable.
Let's put this in perspective. When you arrive at your fabulous holiday destination, that infuriating passenger with the feet will mean little compared to your wonderful holiday memories. Most of the time.
I, for one, am now impervious to bad seat neighbours. And I have found the cure: a stiff drink and a sleeping pill. Trust me, it'll have you happily snoozing through that long-haul flight — never a bad idea.
Unless, of course, you snore.