WHO GETS THE ARMRESTS ON A PLANE?
If you’re assigned to the middle seat, you may think you have first dibs on the armrests to either side of you; however, it’s controversial. Most agree that it seems fair to give the poor chap sandwiched in the middle armrest “rights”—though officially, the middle seat occupant holds no claim over them. Best practice is to read the situation to avoid a scene—life’s too short to argue over armrests.
IS IT OK TO RECLINE MY SEAT?
Let’s face it, airplane seats in the economy section have never won awards for being comfy. Though reclining can make all the difference on the ole back, it can also be disruptive to your neighbor behind you, especially if they are working. It’s a dicey issue, with rational arguments on both sides. To maintain peace in the cabin, only recline when necessary, and do so ever so slightly.
IS IT OK TO SWAP SEATS WITH SOMEONE?
Seat swapping happens—sometimes you just want to sit next to your friend. Other times, the reason is very compelling—like you’re a parent who needs to sit next to your child. Whatever the case, the first course of action is to involve a flight attendant before take-off, as they have a bird’s eye view of the situation. And while no one is required to trade with you, you’ll generally find attendants are proactive and passengers are helpful, especially if there’s a persuasive reason.
IS IT APPROPRIATE TO TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOR?
Many passengers aren’t looking to converse with a stranger on a plane, but do offer an initial friendly hello. If you’re hankering for more, feel out your neighbor’s mood with an easy question such as, “Are you heading home?” If your neighbor’s next move is to make a beeline for the bathroom, take the cue—they don’t want to engage. And travelers who are reading or wearing headphones are essentially wearing a “Do Not Disturb” sign. When in doubt, let silence be golden.
TIPS FOR MANEUVERING THE MIDDLE AISLE WHEN BOARDING
Too often, passengers walking to their seat while boarding are unintentionally making enemies. The reason? They lack spatial awareness and are bumping fellow passengers. If you’re wearing a backpack packed to the gills, with hiking boots secured with bungie cords and a water bottle dangling from a carabiner, more than likely you’ll be swatting people with your gear in the aisle. Tip: Think about keeping every part of you—including your stuff—moving in a straight line without touching anything.
ABSOLUTE MUSTS TO OBSERVE WHEN DEPLANING
Common sense deplaning rules: Don’t cut. Exit row by row, period, unless someone waves you on. This unwritten rule of exiting the aircraft maintains order, so people aren’t jostling, elbowing their way to the door. And if the person in front of you is struggling to get their bag out of the overhead bin, be a good neighbor and give them a hand—it’ll help everyone get out more quickly.
MINDING YOUR P’S & Q’S IN YOUR SEAT
Treat others like you’d like to be treated. If you and your BFF are separated by a middle seat passenger, it’s rude to carry on conversation or pass things back and forth. And unless you’re in an aisle seat, don’t be like popcorn, getting up constantly to use the bathroom. Keep in mind that your allocated space is the width of your seat—don’t allow your legs, shoulders or stuff to creep into your neighbor’s area. For aisle passengers, this means that both body and belongings should be out of the aisle to avoid tripping someone.