The cold-sweat dread of your imminent engulfment by the morbidly obese person who's definitely oh-God-no rolling inexorably toward the neighbouring seat? The disgorgement of your racked body onto another continent, in another time zone, while you struggle to reel in your soul, stuck somewhere in mid-flight?
Think yourself lucky - with incidents of Air Rage (and Air Amour) on the up and up, you could be battling to save your virtue from amorous vixens or inebriated footie fans, fending off inflamed rock gods and goddesses, or launching a counter-attack against the skirmishes billowing through the first-class divider curtain.
The most infamous mile-high contretemps of recent times prove that it's a jungle up there, so before you fasten your seatbelt, be sure to locate your nearest exit, remembering that it may be behind you ...
Lara Flynn Boyle
Flight: British Airways,
Los Angeles to Heathrow
Boyle, best known for her role in the original wacked- out TV oddfest Twin Peaks - and for hanging off the arms of squires such as Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford while resembling a particularly malnourished twiglet - gave a performance in BA's first-class cabin to rival any backwards-talking dancing dwarf for sheer perplexity. Five hours and - according to witnesses - a few pills and a couple of hot toddies in, as passengers reclined their seat-beds and plumped their pillows, Boyle, 34, stripped half-naked and, "wild-eyed", attempted to invade the bed of the nearest male passenger, sprawling across his sheets, raising his window blind, and yelling "We're landing, get your clothes on," even though the plane was still four interminable hours from its destination. She then ripped out her reading light, instructing a steward to "get it out of my sight for ever and ever", and flashed her breasts at a nonplussed cabin crew a few times before lapsing into unconsciousness. None of Boyle's fellow passengers made a complaint, least of all the man whose divan she tried to storm: "He wasn't at all bothered," opined an onlooker. Funny, that.
AIR RAGE MILES: 20,000
Flight: British Airways,
Seattle to Heathrow
The normally mild-mannered REM guitarist, 45, blamed the obligatory sleeping-pill-and-red-wine Air Rage cocktail for his Hulk-like transformation into the terroriser of cabin crew and the vanquisher of breakfast trolleys. After ordering 15 glasses of red wine in the first three hours of the 10-hour flight - and then helping himself to more as pursers gave him an increasingly wide berth - his belligerence led to the captain issuing him with a "yellow card" warning, which Buck tore to pieces while uttering the immortal words: "You are just the captain and I am REM." He then tried to throttle a purser, grabbed a stewardess so fiercely that he bruised her wrist, and stomped his eggs benedict and fresh fruit salad into abject submission. A jury later accepted his claim that he wasn't responsible for his actions. This has become known in legal circles as the "Everybody Hurts ... Sometimes" defence.
AIR RAGE MILES: 30,000
Flight: Virgin Atlantic,
Heathrow to Tokyo, May 2003
You'd look at Jones a long time before the word "charm", but not necessarily the word "offensive", came to mind, and he didn't disappoint during a self-described mid-flight "booze-fuelled adrenalin rush". When Jones, pinging round the cabin like a pinball after "discussing scripts" at the upper class bar, was told to sit down by a passenger, he grabbed him by the collar, slapped him 10 times, and informed him that he'd eat his face. When a cabin crew member intervened, he yelped: "I can get the whole crew murdered for pounds 3,000." He got off with 80 hours of community service and a fine for assault.
AIR RAGE MILES: 22,500
Flight: Virgin Atlantic, Los Angeles to Heathrow,
Courtney is turbulence personified. She unleashed a bout of 36,000ft high dudgeon when flight crew refused to let Love's "nurse" upgrade from economy to first-class, and ended with the singer flailing around the cabin and branding a stewardess a "fucking bitch". On being cautioned under the Public Order Act at Heathrow, she said: "I cussed at a lady and I was right. She was just abusing her power. Now I want a Virgin Cola." Richard Branson may have proclaimed that Virgin is "the rock'n'roll airline", but that probably won't serve as a cast-iron get-out clause for any non- rock'n'roll basket-case with the urge to leave a cabin resembling a blasted, smoking stretch of downtown Grozny.
AIR RAGE MILES: 12,500
Flight: British Airways,
Paris to Manchester,
In-flight duty free. It's a bit tiresome, isn't it? You're just dozing off and someone's demanding to know if you want to purchase any White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor or a "cuddly" jumbo jet with a smiley face. Next time, why not take the no-nonsense Ian Brown approach? When stewardess Christine Cooper proffered her wares to the former Stone Roses ragamuffin, he responded: "Don't wave your fucking hands at me. I'll fucking chop them off." When the captain intervened, he advised him to "Piss off and have a shave." Later, when the plane was coming in to land, he ran and hammered on the cockpit door for 20 to 30 seconds, perhaps realising that he desperately needed a flacon of Eau Savage after all. Admittedly, the Brownian option does carry certain risks - a four-month jail sentence with eight weeks served, in his case - but it's a small price to pay for jettisoning that laborious smiling and shaking of the head as the trolley hurtles by that takes up all those oh-so-precious nanoseconds of your time.
AIR RAGE MILES: 25,000
Flight: Cathay Pacific,
Heathrow to Sydney,
That grinding sound you hear is the inevitability of finding one or more Gallaghers in the annals of mile-high shame; in this instance, Liam doing entry-level incivility via the gift of not only throwing food around the first-class cabin but also smoking, swearing and threatening the staff throughout the flight. His apologia, however, was rock-solid: "All I can remember thinking was that I wanted a scone and they wouldn't give me one." Remember, browbeaten flight crews: just offer hot, doughy buns (raisins optional) on elaborate doilies accompanied by ample portions of raspberry seedless and Rodda's extra-clotted, and watch those mad, bad roister-doisterers morph into purring, burping pussycats. Liam and the boys have been banned from Cathay Pacific for life.
AIR RAGE MILES: 15,000
The Airtours Mob
Gatwick to Jamaica,
Just to prove that hysterical celebrities have no monopoly on airborne brouhaha, one notorious recent "incident" was sparked by a party of holidaymakers whose "high spirits", in the form of copious amounts of champagne, whiskey and lager, degenerated into a "bar-room brawl" involving some 15 people; the aisle-wrestling, hair-pulling and seat-back-surfing caused their plane to be diverted to Norfolk, Virginia, where the troublemakers were dumped and questioned by the FBI while the plane flew on without them. Cue days of whingeing and whining in television interviews before people lost interest and they were quietly flown home by American Airlines.
AIR RAGE MILES: 17,500
Flight: American Airlines,
Dallas to Manchester,
The woman who provided a bonanza of "Randy Mandy" and "I'm Mandy, Fly Me" headlines after she got rather intimate with a fellow passenger - hereafter known as "doing a Lara Flynn" - at 30,000 feet. Holt met David Machin, a business executive, as they boarded the business-class cabin, they bonded over the pre-dinner wine and after-dinner port and brandy, and soon they'd thrown a blanket over themselves and were, in the words of one stewardess, "at it". It was only when the apple-bobbing motions became more intense and Holt's legs flew over the seat in front of her, enveloping the forward passenger and impeding the latter's enjoyment of the movie Notting Hill ("The miaowing sounds she was making were completely drowning out the film," she later testified) that the authorities felt compelled to intervene. Holt and Machin, both married, were detained when the plane landed, and both were fined for being drunk on an aircraft, though charges of outraging public decency were dropped. Both lost their jobs, though their partners, not to mention the tabloids, stood by them resolutely.
AIR RAGE MILES: 2,500
The Celtic Mob
Santiago to Glasgow,
After Celtic football club triumphed over Celta Vigo in a Uefa Cup match, their fans' inbound celebrations on their chartered jet were upgraded from a brawl to a "mid-air riot". The fans preferred to think of the incidents - the smoking, catcalling, and subsequent thumping of a stewardess in the back - as "banter", but the cabin crew took it seriously enough to send out a mayday and put the plane into an emergency nosedive over Cardiff, causing Airplane-like scenes of screeching, falling oxygen masks, and white-knuckle clutching of prayer beads. Helicopters were scrambled and police in riot gear surrounded the plane on the tarmac. After landing it was quickly demoted from a full-on Die Hard scenario to a Curious Incident-style damp squib, with four men charged with various suspiciously brawl-like misdemeanours.
AIR RAGE MILES: 5,000
Anthony (right) and Roy Psaila
Flight: Air 2000,
Birmingham to Malta,
A rule of thumb; if the passenger in the seat next to you is laughing and crying alternately while foaming at the mouth, it's probably time to take an extended bathroom break. The woman next to the raving 61-year-old Anthony Psaila did just that, only to find herself trapped in the facility after Psaila rushed forward demanding to see the pilot so he could tell him he loved him (the piquantly named Captain Hugo Vonwiller actually locked himself in the cabin to avoid Psaila's intentions), and, being thwarted, knocked over a bunch of ever-in-the-firing-line food trolleys, headbutted a fellow passenger who tried to restrain him, and engendered a full-blown barney when his son Roy rushed to his aid. The profoundly perturbed Captain Vonwiller diverted to Milan, and Psaila Snr, who'd supplemented his whisky tots with three cans of Special Brew to combat his fear of flying, was later jailed for a year, as was his son. The fate of the woman locked in the lavatory is not recorded.
AIR RAGE MILES: 25,000Reuse content