A few months ago, while chatting with a dad at school, he brought up the article So Who Gets the Armrest in the Wall Street Journal. I found this fascinating because airline travel sometimes feels like it's going the way of Lord of the Flies. Flying feels more like riding Greyhound. The article covers things like who gets the armrests (the middle seat), how are bathroom breaks handled if neighbors are sleeping (wake them up), and whether it is okay or not to recline your seat (I effing hate when people recline the seat. For the record, I don't fly red eye. There is nothing worse than learning over to type or read only to have my forehead smacked by the seat of the person in front of me. Once, I had a guy try over and over to recline, confused because his seat was getting stopped by a barrier, which happened to be my head.)
I thought about air traveler ethics during our recent flight because Kevin sat next to a situation that would have made me crazy. Two girls got on the flight with back to back middle seats, and the problem was they wanted to sit next to each other. I should clarify: by girls I mean women in their early 30s. These weren't kids. One of the women asked Kevin to change seats with her friend in the middle seat behind them. Kevin said no because he needed to be near his family across the aisle. The women put the pressure on the three other women around them, sitting in the aisle and window seats of their two rows. Everyone said no, they would not trade for a middle. The middle seat women seemed surprised and bothered by the response, to which I say, "what the hell did you expect?" But, don't worry, they managed to be together on the full flight.
First, back row woman stood up and hung over her friend in the middle row.
Then, front row woman turned around in her seat to interact with back row.
This went on for the full flight. The only twist was when the row behind the back row friend cleared out to use the bathroom, which then the woman next to Kevin moved to that row, to stand behind her friend and give her a back rub.
Again, this was the entire six hour flight.
I cannot imagine what it would have been like if they were seated next to each other.
The middle seat sucks, we all know it, but your fellow passengers didn't force you into that seat, so don't take it out on them.
I wish all airlines showed the little cartoon preview that Virgin airlines shows to explain the rules (actually, I wish all airlines were Virgin America). We are all in this together, so don't act like an ass.
The upside of witnessing bad traveler behavior is that my kids made note. On the way back East, two kids sat directly behind my kids, in a row with their dad, who read the entire flight. The mom slept through the flight in another row. The two kids were pretty loud and often badly behaved. The woman in front of us kept shooting me nasty looks, to the point that I almost shouted out that those were not my kids. Clover was bothered by the noise and the seat kicking, making her aware that a few bad apples spoil it for all kids. On the flight home, toward the every end when Rocket got restless and squirrely, Clover reminded him, "DO NOT be like those kids behind us on the last flight. Remember them? We don't want to be like them!" This message, coming from his sister, was more powerful than anything I could have said.