This drooling, red-eyed long-haul flyer looks like a creature from another planet and has crossed countless time zones. Emerging from a valium fog, the zombie takes a leak then sinks back into a trance. Agonisingly slowly, the zombie's body then sags until his head looks set to rest on your shoulder. Again, with a jolt he awakes, arresting the slide. So far, so unnerving. Beware! If you, too, lose consciousness, you may wake with a shriek in the zombie's arms.
This goateed hulk, bursting out of a leather waistcoat cranks his MP3 player full-blast, sharing the noise generated by some brutal death-metal band like Severe Torture or Extreme Noise Terror. Chords swell and crash like the waves on rocks. Instead of asking the bikie to turn the music down, you may feel inclined to opt for diplomacy focus on not invading his space. Hell, let him occupy the entire armrest with his mammoth inked forearm. Hey, why not let him take some extra legroom, too?
At first, this fellow traveller appears nice enough. But soon she exerts about as much charm as the icy lettuce you're prodding with your fork. What dark forces drive her to cover every angle of her personal life in mind-numbing detail? You begin to hate the self-obsessed train wreck, and feel even worse precisely because she has so many issues ranging from a chronic sex-with-the-ex habit to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Uhuh, uhuh. Shut ... Up!
Deaf to niceties such as rapport or interest, and about as much fun as a flight phobia sufferer, this oily bigmouth strives to overawe rivals and bulldoze the defences of the nearest available female with a charm offensive. Resistance is useless. Try to, er, join in and the charmer just kicks up a gear, talks over the top. The total absence of "jetiquette" triggers stress especially if you are female and suspect that he wants to have sex with you. Which he does.
Glued to a movie, this trackie daks-clad cattle-class monster chomps chips while her ADHD darlings cause chaos. One screams at a volume appropriate to a disaster, such as the engine failing or a propeller sailing away, and when the mood takes him, the other brat sets out on expeditions to bash fellow toddlers. The result: more screaming audible above your own noise-cancelling headphones. Adding to the awfulness, you feel bad about your fantasies of strangling all three.
Swamped in a blanket, this frazzled stranger with the skewed tie and fiery eyes has been drinking since 5am. Still grimly necking caffeinated cocktails, he looks ready to erupt from his cramped seat at the drop of an in-flight pillow. Instead, he guzzles a handful of prescription pills before groping one flight attendant and grappling another. The mayhem mounts. Soon, the drunk will be cuffed and cowed. Meanwhile, you try not to panic. Remember there are worse things than air rage; you could be caught in a hijack or witness someone go nuts and defecate in a food cart, which has reportedly happened.
Quite why this high-maintenance neighbour chose the window seat is a mystery on a par with how the bumblebee defies physics to fly. The fidget is afflicted by a constant itch to rise and stretch those restless legs or go to the toilet. If only the fidget would stay there or camp in the aisle.
Forget over-the-counter motion-sickness medication. This passenger has something more serious. SARS, dengue fever, yellow fever ... What could it be? The nauseous wreck twists the air-con nozzle in his direction and breathes hard, his dimly lit livid face bathed in perspiration. His disarray brings to mind the saying that the bad times are when you feel so sick you fear you will die, but the worst times are when you fear you will not.
Often an expat embedded at the destination, the wet blanket has been there, done that, got the T-shirt, then turned it into a dish rag. Now, the wet blanket is on a mission to spell out every failing of the resort that looked so luscious in the brochure, which neglected to mention all the touts and tarts. This neighbour's influence sours your enthusiasm and raises the issue of whether it would have been better to stay home. But you're stranded.
Who's the worst person you've ever sat next to on a plane, bus or train? Have your say using the comments form below.