As an avid observer of life, people watching has always been a curiosity of mine. I try to imagine what people are talking about, where they are going, what their lives are like, what might happen to them next. It’s like watching art in motion. Every person has a story to tell, but you will never know what it is. There is an implicit line that separates you (the observer) from everyone else (the subject). It’s all very interesting. But when the observer and the subject, still perfect strangers, share an interaction, everything changes. Now, each stranger has the opportunity to delight or annoy each other, and neither will EVER talk about it. Except  in extreme situations. Otherwise, all of us, in one way or another, have annoyed perfect strangers. These are just some of the things your mother never told you…

Airplane etiquette.

There are number of opportunities to annoy strangers in and around the travel spectrum. This could be a novel. Today, let’s focus on the actual flight itself.

Seat etiquette specifically.

If you are a window-seater. Be courteous and hit the restroom as late as possible before you board. You should not get out of your seat at all for a >3 hour flight and no more than once for a >7 hour flight. And you should do your very best to time your bio-break with your aisle seat stranger-friend. It’s the right thing to do. Also, you’ve got a built in lean, and the window, and the opportunity to move further way from your stranger-neighbor than anyone else. Don’t abuse it. And, like your aisle friend, you only get one arm rest, the other is for the sad stranger-neighbor in the middle. He deserves at least that.

If you are an aisle seater. Don’t fall asleep and lean into the aisle. When the flight attendants and other passengers walk up and down, they don’t want to navigate around your gapping mouth. It’s gross. Most aisle people like the leg-stretch room. That’s good, enjoy it. Just pay attention to the people walking by and move. Also – all the male aisle seaters. Please stand up and help folks (especially the women) with their bags in the overhead. Even the flight attendants. Chivalry is not dead. Oh – and like your window friend, you get one arm rest, not both.

Lastly, the saddest seat of all, the middle-seaters. The fact that you are a middle-seater means that you are either the nicer half of a relationship or you are traveling alone on a short notice flight. Either way, I’m sorry. It’s the equivalent of sitting in the mush pot in a duck-duck-goose game. No fun. However, you have some etiquette to follow yourself. While you get to claim both arm rests, you don’t get to encroach on other people space. Don’t let your arms and elbows extend pass the arm rest. There is an invisible vertical plane that you shouldn’t violate. I know it’s hard, but you have to focus, the flight will be over soon. And like your window-seater stranger-friend, time the bio break with your window-seater friend.

Until next time…