There is a story trending about a woman who was traumatized on a British Airways flight by a man behind who “refused” to let her recline. After physical and verbal assault, she finally spoke to the crew and was upgraded from premium economy to business class. Tiffany covers it nicely here and adds some great personal perspective. How would you handle a nasty seatmate?
The human tendency is for revenge, at least for males like me. I truly do not believe vengeance is the answer in any situation, but I think it was more timidity than principle that kept me from reacting aggressively on my SAS flight from Copenhagen to Dulles nearly seven years ago. If you recall:
The cabin was arranged in a 2-2-2 setting and there was a console large enough for four drinks between each seat. There were two water bottles on the console already and I ordered a club soda, which I set down on my half of the console. The guy turned to me and angrily asked me to remove the drink from “his console.” I asked him to repeat himself, which made him even angrier, and he again demanded I remove my drink from the console. I shook my head, picked up my drink, and walked away. Not worth messing with an idiot like that.
I was mad now, but I saw no possible constructive outcome in seeking revenge against a petty imbecile.
Good choice, I think. I approached the crew and they re-seated me. I’ll be honest, though, I replay that moment often in my head and part of me wishes I had dramatically elbowed the drink off the console…and into his lap.
No, no…that would have been wrong.
I see bad seatmates all the time, really bad ones. What do you do with them? The ones who will not shut up? The ones who stink? The ones who protest when you recline?
Since the SAS incident, my policy is to look them in the eye and calmly tell them to back down. If they protest, then summon a FA. I’m happy to report that I’ve never had to summon a FA.
A few months ago I was on a midday United flight from Washington Dulles to LA in economy and when I reclined I kept feeling a knee in my back…it would come and go. I was in the second exit row (lots of legroom, full recline) and the guy behind me was wedged into a window seat with no poor legroom. He looked tall. Still, there was no need to “knee” me.
I only had to give him a glare and it stopped.
If there was not enough space for him, he could have purchased a first class seat or at least upgraded to Economy Plus…
I asked my wife what she would have done and she said, “Well, I probably would have just put my seat up.” Isn’t that rewarding misbehavior?
How do you handle bad seatmates and where do you draw the line in trying to fix the situation without involving the flight crew?
image from 123rf.com