Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in LeTravelista | 0 comments

3 Ways to Prevent the Annoying Seatmate

We’ve all had one. That annoying person who sits down next to you on a plane, takes over your space, both for your belongings as well as your personal space. The person who sits down and decides to start up a conversation with you, talking non stop, and not taking to your social cues. The cues that clearly show you are not interested. The person who simply just doesn’t have good social airplane manners.

It wasn’t that long ago, when my husband and I were traveling to Hawaii; normally on this flight, we choose to sit in the two seats off to the side, and avoid the middle row.  Sitting there ensures that I don’t have to deal with that annoying seat mate; I am the one who would typically get stuck in the middle seat because my husband is incredibly tall and likes to stretch his long legs out. But anyway, this trip was unusual to begin with as it was a much smaller plane. Instead of the aisles having two seats by each window and then a center row with 5 or 6 seats, this plane had three seats on each side of the aisle. I should have clued into the fact that I was going to have to sit by someone other than my husband and prepared myself. However, as usual, I had other things on my mind and I tend to think the best of people.

Oh how I should have clued in…..

My new “friend” for the next six hours barely spoke english, which in this case was not a plus. He had no concept of personal space or the social rules that go along with it. He believed that every second of this trip was about him, his comfort, and his needs. Let’s just say at one point when he was not trying to sleep on my shoulder and snoring loudly while doing so, he was bent over with his ass in my face, looking for the glasses that had fallen off of him while sleeping. I wanted off that airplane more than I had wanted off any other airplane in my entire life. Not even on the flight I had a kid kicking the back of my seat the entire trip.

I made a promise to myself that day. A promise to never allow myself to be put in a position of that much discomfort again while travelling. Oh I know that there are things you can’t avoid, like crying babies. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t or you can’t come up with ways to minimize the interactions with annoying seat mates.

The following three decisions have saved me on multiple times since, and I would suggest that anyone who wants to prevent the annoying seatmate, try these.

Sit in the Aisle Seat

I used to always give the aisle seat up for my husband, but now I have found I can take the aisle seat across from him and be just as happy. Happier actually. I am still able to sit and talk to him, show him things that I read or see in magazines, share drinks, and function just as if he were sitting next to me. However, what I get now by sitting across from him in the adjacent aisle seat is space. Space that is taken advantage of when I have a larger person or a person who likes to crowd sitting next to me in the middle seat. It allows me to lean towards the aisle, giving me the room and personal space I desire. Personal space can make all the difference on an airplane.

Establish Your Space

No matter which seat I am in, I now quickly take my seat, placing my items into their designated area, and position myself in my seat as I feel comfortable. If no one is in the seat next to me and I feel like I will at some point during the flight want to use the arm rest between my seat and the next one over, I will instantly put my arm on the rest to establish the unspoken fact that I would like to use this arm rest. If someone else has their belongings in the space designated for me or my stuff, I will politely and assertively ask them to move it. Again establishing my boundaries up front. In the past, I would have just been more passive about it and hoped that they would notice my irritation or need for space. But, it seems that being more direct yet polite is the better solution.

Act Busy and Block Them Out

One of two things can happen when you sit down next to a person who wants to have a conversation with you; you can engage in the conversation or you can take out your book, magazine, laptop, or anything else to make yourself appear busy. If that doesn’t work, there is no harm pulling out your headphones and putting them on. Oh I know that sometimes people just keep talking, and talking. But, as you pull these items out there is no harm in saying “I’m sorry, but I really need to listen to this right now” and then quickly put your headphones on and turn away. Let me just say if you travel often, invest in noise cancelling headphones. Although I have yet to purchase my own pair, my husband has a set, and they are the greatest. Even when he is not listening to music or watching a movie he will still wear them. Why? They cancel out all of the nose around him making it seem as if he is in a room all alone. They even block out the crying baby that is sitting right next to you.

There you have it, the three ways I prevent the annoying seatmate.

What about you? What tips and tricks do you have for dealing with the annoying seatmate? Do you have one for how to handle the one who is eating smelly food? That is one I am still working on, and I would be so happy to hear your ideas on the matter.

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