5 Ways people invade your personal space on airplanes

We love to travel, but flying can cramp our style. Some people just don’t grasp the concept of personal space.

Rude passenger on the airplane

Photo credit: Izabela Habur / E+ / Getty images

The recliner

Yes, airplane seats recline, and there’s no law against extending that recline a-a-a-al-l-l-l the wa-a-ay back. But it would be nice if the person in front of you took a peek to see if his seat back was contorting your legs into a Gumby-like position. If only the airline posted a “Be kind when you recline” sign on the seat back tray. Maybe with a cute little diagram of how blood clots form.


The armrest hog

Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the shared armrest. The armrest bully thinks he can claim the armrest by flopping down his meaty forearms and making it clear they’re not going anywhere. You could give in — or you might strategically drop a book, then swipe in for the prize while your neighbor is retrieving it.


The close talker

What is it with the close talker? Does he really think you want to hear (and smell) all about his crazy night in Vegas? And why does he think he needs to talk directly into your face? You can try to look away and focus intently on your book, but the close talker is not easily dissuaded. Rest assured, standard conventions of behavior do not apply in this situation. Pop in your earbuds and tune out. Do not make eye contact. Do not offer any sort of encouragement. If you waver in your resolve, your entire flight is doomed.


The farter

Can we all agree that bean burritos should be banned from airport restaurants? It’s just not right when you’re forced to endure a cross-country flight with a gas passer. You know who I’m talking about. He looks perfectly innocent, minds his own business and stays out of your personal space. But his invasion is insidious… unexpected. You can’t confront him, and worst of all, there’s nowhere to run — nowhere to hide. Your best bet is to rip out the perfume sample from your magazine and discreetly bury your nose in it.


The cuddler

Ah, yes, the cuddler (sometimes referred to as the drooler) is that airplane neighbor who has the uncanny ability to fall asleep before the plane even takes off. He can snooze through drink orders, pilot announcements, turbulence, even that annoying kid kicking the back of his seat. Get ready, because this guy likes to cozy up in search of a nice shoulder on which to rest his slumbering head. You can try the nudge, but don’t get your hopes up. That head is coming back.

Never an uncomfortable moment, sponsored by Sanuk.

Quick tip:

When booking travel for two (or four), reserve a window and aisle seat in the same row. That center seat might not get reserved and you’ll have an open seat next to you. If someone does book that seat, he’ll likely switch spots so you can sit by your friend or family member.

More travel tips

Things to bring on a family vacation
Ideas for a last minute family getaway
How to have an awesome family vacation


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