Sky High: My Flying Companions And Their Drugs

My jittery neighbour had been at parties, after-parties, and an after-after-party rave. And then kind of overdosed on MDMA, the driving force in Ecstasy

Waiting for my Virgin Atlantic plane back to London, I noticed some people in sunglasses and hats indoors looking rather… annoying. Sitting next to me once we boarded happened to be an acquaintance, a given on the Art Basel Miami Beach express to Heathrow. He seemed a bit agitated and his knee was engaged in a manic dance the rest of his body couldn’t keep up with.

Next on the plane was the posse with the shades, one of whom I realised I knew as well, a UK artist of some esteem now sitting across from me. The two trilby-wearing Brits – the other was an art-collector from the music industry – were engaged in an animated conversation with the stewardess before rejoining us. It turns out they were refused alcohol service for the flight… before it even took off. That’s something.

My jittery neighbour had been at parties, after-parties, and an after-after-party rave. And then kind of overdosed on MDMA, the driving force in Ecstasy, resulting in a midday panic attack – how utterly unexpected.

Read more: Drug addiction among the wealthy

Was it a fedora, or a trilby, I can’t say for sure, but one of them pulled out a pot pourri of pills for the plane ride in a sliding scale of potency, while his companion had an even greater array. This was a veritable Boots pharmacy with wings. Not to be outdone, herky-jerky pulled out a vial of liquid Xanax (I was asking myself the same thing), and in a selfless display of generosity, waved it in front of the stewardess offering her some.

We still hadn’t taken off yet, and silly me was expecting to bury my head in a stack of newspapers till I faded off into peaceful sleep.

I jokingly asked my companion if he snored much, as he hadn’t a wink the night before, only to be startled across the aisle by the gaping-mouthed hat-in-hander, sleeping like a baby and sounding like a trumpet in the horn section. Still, we hadn’t even begun to taxi.

Miami was looking better and better by the second, though I guiltily admit to finding some pleasure in the unfolding train wreck from a rather great vantage point, front row and centre.

At this point I was the only one who needed a drink, so I ordered a glass of wine, while the others negotiated to lift their drinks ban. The stewardess noted that you didn’t have to be drunk to be refused, but rather simply display disorderly or worrying behavior, both of which boxes were unequivocally ticked in this instance.

Read more from Kenny Schachter: Felix Salmon is too pious about art-world money

My second glass of wine was gulped not by me but by the music man, cleverly overriding his enforced abstinence, but the after-effects were soon to be heartfelt, for next up I was refused a further drink. My prohibition was also imposed for the duration of the flight and I wasn’t even tipsy! Talk of guilt by association, what a price.

And if you’d like to know, arguing with a flight attendant is more futile than fighting a traffic warden, trust me, and telling her she’d make a better schoolmarm will most decidedly do nothing to help your cause. So what could I do to prove my innocence? Not much other than duly noting her name to take further action at some indeterminate point in the distant future.

Within minutes they were all down, dreaming up some pharmaceutically fueled phantasms, while I was left to my own devices to dine alone, with a begrudging parched throat. These boorish, sophomoric antics were undertaken by a group of successful-in-their-own right young men (one not so young).

Tell me please, do women act like this too (besides in Essex and on the Jersey Shore)?

Read more from Kenny Schachter

Don’t miss out on the best of Spear’s articles – sign up to the Spear’s weekly newsletter