The cynic in me finds the whole experience bemusing. I mentioned this to a friend who works in politics and is also a 6am veteran. He said, “I told you. Everyone falls in love with girls on these domestic flights.”
He's guilty of the odd pick-up line, too.
When I mentioned how ridiculous the whole scenario is, he said, “Yep. This is why I always say Mad Men would have been a more interesting show if it had been about how much things HADN'T changed, not how much they had”.
And yet ...
Has anyone ever helped pop my bag up into the overhead compartment? Nope. Have I seen any other woman helped? Nope.
This week, an engineer in his 50s just stood there in the aisle, his hands clasped, as I played Olympic weight-lifting with my suitcase right in front of him. Just stood there, looking intently at the sticky carpet. Probably afraid to chip a nail or something.
Has the women's liberation movement really scared the bejesus out of men this much?
When did it become chivalrous to steadfastly look away and not bother to help?
If a 6am flight is anything to go by, you'd think the concept of a gentleman was well and truly dead.
I promise you, I won't get angry or defensive or give you attitude, I'll in fact be super-grateful and flash you an extra-big smile despite the lack of sleep.
Which brings me to the final dismount. Even before the seatbelt sign goes off, the jackets get put on, the suitcases get territorially placed in the aisle, and the competitive rush to get off that plane begins.
Of course, I'm left to struggle with my own bag. It's not that I expect help, it's just the harshness of it all I find a bit surprising.
Unless your carry-on luggage contains an esky full of kidneys, I actually don't think your meeting is more important than mine.
And yet, I'm fascinated by this morning microcosm of high society.
And, when I helped a fellow female traveller retrieve her bag a few rows back, her smile of thanks stayed with me all day.
I would argue strongly that when chivalry dies, society is on the brink of death.
Gentlemen... let's bring it back.