Friday, August 6, 2010

Airplane Etiquette

On the trip to Las Vegas last weekend, I had somewhat crazy experiences on the both the flight there and the flight back. I thought I'd complain a bit to the internet, and put in writing some of my feelings about airplane etiquette.

1. Don't put your feet on other people.
It really doesn't seem like that rule of etiquette should have to be said, and yet, the lady behind me on the flight from DC to Las Vegas was apparently not aware of it. I had my arms on my armrests, and this lady decided to also rest her feet on my armrests. I understand people sometimes bunch up their knees or put their feet on the back of the seat (which can be annoying when it pushes the back of the seat, but whatever), but I think this is a bit too much. She stuck her feet so far forward on my armrests that she actually touched my elbows with her toes. Yuck! And even though she must have felt that her feet touched my arms, she just left them there. Eventually I gave up on using my arm rests and just tilted them up. So weird.

2. You don't have to "win" seats. Settle down.
On the flight back from Las Vegas to DC, Jeff and I were seated early, and got to watch this charming exchange between some people across the aisle and about a row ahead.
Guy 1: Hey, you're sitting in my seat.
Guy 2: Yeah, my friend is sitting here, and I was wondering if you'd switch seats with me. I'm in 21F.
Guy 1: That's a window seat. I want an aisle seat. I'm not switching.
Guy 2: Ok, are you sure, what abou...
Guy 1: (Somewhat aggressively) Look man, it's my seat. I'm gonna win this.
So at this point, the second guy gave up and moved back to the seat he was in.

My thought: He wasn't trying to trick you or challenge you for the role of alpha male, he was just trying to figure out a way to sit with his friend. He was asking you a question. Relax.

2. You are not the king of the plane. You don't get to make rules for others.
This was on the same flight from Las Vegas to DC (which was a 4.5 hour red-eye, by the way). And it involves the lovable Guy 1 from the story above. I should add here that Guy 1 was a pretty big guy - both tall and somewhat large. Basically, an old man sat in the seat in front of Guy 1. Then guy 1 informs him, "Sir, you can't put your seat back, it will crush my knees." And the old man, at being told by another passenger that he can't put his seat back (not "would you mind," or "I'd really appreciate it if..."), is very nice and friendly and says that he'll try to keep his seat up. He suggests (nicely) to Guy 1 that he should consider getting a seat in Economy Plus (this was United) where there is more leg-room. He explains that he, himself, had actually booked an economy plus seat, but the reservation had been messed up. Guy 1 says he's not gonna pay 50 bucks to sit farther up in the plane. And the conversation basically trailed off. So fast-forward 4.5 hours. The flight lands. I've been sleeping (mostly). I wake up to something like this:
Old Man: (still relatively nice and sincere) Well, I hope you appreciate that I didn't put my seat back for that entire flight. That was really tough on me.
Guy 1: (with an air of indifference) Well, my knees...

Then there was more conversation, which to be honest I don't remember all of - I just remember the old man's voice getting more and more frustrated, and Guy 1's voice being more and more sarcastic and defensive... until this happened:

Old Man: Well, you're an a#$#!#. It makes me mad that I put my life on the line for ungrateful people like you. (He was a veteran.)
Guy 1: (sarcastically) Well, I'm sorry. (Rolls eyes)
Old Man. Really, you're an a#$#!#
Guy 1: Ok. (Smirks and semi-shrugs at passengers around him, as if the old man is crazy.)

Then the old man was taken off the plane in a wheel chair. And Guy 1 joked around with his friends about how crazy the old man was.

Meanwhile... I'm sitting nearby with steam coming out of my ears, because I'm ready to give my two cents, and tell him that 1) the old man is right, and 2) he's lucky that guy sat in front of him, because if it had been me, there is no way I'm taking a whole red-eye flight without reclining my chair, just because you've informed me that I "can't", but Jeff is giving me a look (and telling me outright not to say anything, because he can see that look in my eye.) So I fumed in silence.... mostly. And chose to instead share the story with the internet.

What do you think? Three very reasonable airplane etiquette rules, right?

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