Please note that this entire cycle can taken an entire human life time of travel, or be completed over just one flight. Humans who choose to partake in Flight can start again at the beginning at any time or completely skip a stage, depending on multiple factors including but not limited to, environment, sleep quality, glucose intake, bloating factors* and general outlook on life.
* measured on a scale from 0 for barely detectable to Mac 6 which will generate a flurry of false-pregnancy compliments from utter strangers.
1) Shiny Child-like:
Shiny faced, everything is new to her. She is nervous but excited, chatters a lot, tries but fails to look nonchalant. Packs everything she might ever need in carry-on, including her own blanket, eye mask, evening gown in case of Events Happening, poncho to look Hip in, or glamorous shawl to drape around her shoulders. Everything has potential.
Trying to Stay Cool, maintain a healthy cynicism or attitude of the disaffected. Under super casual countenance there is still excitement, joy, nerves. Carefully selected memories booster a false-positive belief in Good Things Happening category. Packs sunglasses, ind magazines printed on sustainably-forested matte paper, giant headphones, and still with the drapey shawl because underneath it all, flight teens just want to Look Nice and Attract a Sexy Stranger….
3) Middle-aged/frequent flyer:
Engages a healthy scepticism in things Working Out Ok, but still enjoys the lead up to a flight. Wary of the Thing that happened last time, but it probably can’t happen twice in a row, right? Is calm when boarding, patient in queues, and packs genuinely useful items like antacid, anti-diarrhoea tablets, and a good book that they bought 3 months ago and might actually read in the next 10 hours. Likes to order the special meals, to cheat the system. Still the bloody shawl though!! What is this, Paris Fashion Week?
4) Senior Wings:
World weary, would like to get home but starts to Not Really Care. Generally unflappable but can get crabby in long queues. (Signs of The Emerging Crab stage include muttering, rolling eyes, sighing huffily folding arms. If you really cared about them, you’d pick up these passive aggressive signals and act on them. Oh well.) Packs for most digestive emergencies, buys weird cultural snacks at the duty free and tries to sneak crafting supplies on board. Steals completely useless airline branded frippery such as eye masks, toothpicks and small plastic spoons, because you never know. Achy shoulders, dry eyes and a strong belief that what could go wrong will go wrong are all symptoms that they are close to death, otherwise known as DGAF. Uses shawl to roll up dirty clothes in.
5) Death throes:
You’d think that this was the worst bit, but you’d be wrong about that my friend hahaha.
Signs of “Dead in the Air” are clear. Hunched shoulders, blank, unseeing eyes, bags not zipped properly. Cannot stand in queues any more so usually sits on the floor until the place is nearly empty and their name has been called over the PA 3 times. Has given up all hope of making the right flight, and instead stares at the flightboard, noting how the different flags look like Tiny Little Sailboats on a dotty sea. The only thought that fizzes in their silent empty brain is the age old question, “where was I supposed to be by now?” Here the shawl finally lives up to its purpose. Thoughtful passengers or let's face it, the cleaners, will drape it elegantly - oh so glamorous and chic - over the face and body, as a shroud. Just as well you remembered the shawl ay?!
6) More Dedder/Zombie:
Sputtering synapses reawaken this dreadful creature. No sign of their previous personality remains. Flight Zombies have no luggage any more, it is probably in Denpasar. Their emotional stability is, well, off the Richter Scale, ranging from gargling and cackling with delirium to weepy and non-verbal. Legs splay in an awkward gait, and their dry lips are flecked with spit. Their eyes are red and scratchy, and unpleasant to meet in a glance. The main purpose of their continued, fruitless journey? Well, just like their less dead counterparts, zombies are all different and unique. They all have something that spurs the disjointed whirring and clacking body forward. For some, it may be the thought of the green IKEA plates in their carry-on, the amazing ones with the ponies and the leaves. One day they might be able to use them, if they ever get home!
These poor souls will wander the deserted departure halls at night, muttering and groaning, and many will never find their way home.
If you are alone one night in Sydney airport, and find yourself being lurched towards, quickly peel the shawl off their rotting flesh and strangle them with it. You're doing the right thing, it's what they would have wanted.