We know that middle seat passengers have a claim to both armrests, but would you actually fight for them?
Earlier this week I booked a very last-minute ticket to fly from Los Angeles to Houston. I ended up with a middle seat in the exit row. It is rare that I find myself in a middle seat and I could tell the two men sitting in the window and aisle seats of my row were not happy to have an “intruder” in the middle.
I think of myself as a fairly assertive person when it comes to exercising rights and privileges, but when both seatmates laid claim to “my” center armrests, I did nothing.
It’s not like I’m timid…a guy in the row in front of me was playing music on his mobile phone without headphones and I quickly tapped him on the shoulder and instructed him (not requested) to use headphones.
So what kept me from claiming the armrests?
It wasn’t a desire to avoid confrontation…both seatmates were actually nice guys. It also wasn’t because the flight was less than three hours…I really could have used the armrest since I was working the entire flight.
What it comes down to is that I really don’t believe the passenger in the middle is entitled to both armrests.
It’s like the whole seat recline debate. Some insist that it is rude for a passenger to recline her seat, especially during meal service. While I agree that it is nice etiquette to leave the seat up during meals, I wholeheartedly reject that a customer can be barred from reclining her seat at any point in the flight other than takeoff and landing. Sometimes, you just want to go right to sleep after takeoff and skip food and drink. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Similarly, I believe that middle seat armrests are claimed on a first-come, first-served basis. They do straddle both seat after all…
When I fly in an aisle or window seat, I do always leave the center armrest for a middle seat passenger. I think it is a nice thing to do. But I just don’t see a right to armrests, no matter what etiquette experts may say.
Am I off base here?