It is always an experience to travel with Greeks; my personal highlight is to travel with lots of Greeks on a plane. For most people, “chaotic” would be the single best fittingly term to describe this. I just returned from 3-day trip to Hamburg via Zurich. I applaud the airlines that do their best to ensure an efficient boarding by calling up the passengers in the back-rows first, asking all other passengers to remain seated until another announcement is made. I put this strategy that works with passengers from most nations to the test and remained seated in the waiting area, as my seat was in row number 9.
By the time this first announcement was made, a large number of passengers were already standing in front of the gate. Mind you, they were not standing in a queue; there was this rather large circle of people with everybody pushing forwards and sideways at the same time. Most passengers had several pieces of hand luggage and the moving ball full of people was a stunning sight. I was reading a book, waiting for the announcement for the remaining passengers to board. After just a couple of minutes I was the only person still seated outside the front gate. Greeks don’t like this level of organisation, and for a good reason: As every Greek has more than the official allowance of just one piece of hand luggage, stowage space turns into a rare commodity. Greeks know that if they can’t make into the first wave of people to board, chances are that all available stowage space is taken by the ones that did.
The usual fights about assigned seats took place. If Greeks are unlucky and have been assigned to a middle seat, they just take the seat at the window or the aisle anyway. So boarding usually takes a lot longer than normal, as the air hostesses are busy sorting through the mess. Once air-bound, things turn more normal. But as soon as the plane touches the ground, you will hear lots of clicks from Greeks unfastening the security belts, getting up and proceeding to take out their luggage out of the overhead lockers, all while the plane is still clearly in motion on the ground. The air hostesses once again struggle to control this situation, and usually several announcements are necessary to get people to at least to return to their seats. By the time the plane comes to a halt, everyone is already busy chatting on their mobile phones.
I have to give credit to the fact that things have somewhat approved over the years, but this is only due to the fact that liquids are not allowed in the hand luggage any longer. Greeks are immensely proud of their products, and I remember vividly that my mother-in-law would always take at least 2 bottles of our own olive oil along on a flight. She was very determined that other people abroad should be able to taste such a pure and wonderful product. Even if she were going to stay at a nice hotel abroad, she would always take a bottle of olive oil along to present as a gift to the hotel owner. And she would make sure to write a letter upon her return asking if the chef of the hotel’s restaurant was using only Greek olive oil from now on.