Readers’ Comments on Airplane Etiquette

by  Zoë Mintz | Aug 9, 2012
Plane / Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock

My recent blog post, Airplane Etiquette: On Old Women and Window Seats, got ShermansTravel readers talking. Many took to the comments section to share their opinions on how I handled an awkward and stressful situation. There was overwhelming support for what I did: asking an older woman to move from a window seat – my window seat – on a transatlantic flight. Others, however, disagreed with me. Everyone seemed to have an opinion. Here are some examples of reader reactions.

Thoughts varied across the spectrum of support:

“Since when does age trump manners and consideration? I’d have handled it exactly as the both of you had,” writes Sheli on the old lady’s sense of entitlement. Teri, a self-proclaimed senior, agreed with my actions but suggested a softer approach: “Perhaps a more personal comment would have swayed the onlooking judges. ‘This is a really special trip for my mom and I.’” Kitty empathized with my mother, “As a 2x cancer survivor, I would have said at least as much as the mother. Just wouldn’t have dropped the “f” bomb.”

Of course, not everyone was in agreement with what I did. “I was unaware that common courtesy was dependent on the length of a trip,” writes Valarie Jones, on my rationalization that, had the flight been shorter, I would have forfeited my window seat. Mike Montgomery felt my mother and I caused unnecessary drama. “Put on your headphones and relax,” he writes. “Think of Amsterdam! MMmmmm.” Abby B. asked, “If you wanted to sleep, couldn’t you have used your mother’s shoulder or gotten a neck pillow?”

Cheryl Sinclair related to the old woman. “I hope this lady didn’t have a similar story,” she says. “She may not have behaved well, but your mother’s situation doesn’t excuse your ungracious behavior. It may not have been fair but you look the worse for it.”

Mickie Diamant saw the situation as a class issue. “I recommend flying Business Class at all times if possible especially on flights that are more than 60 minutes.” Don’t we all, Mickie, don’t we all.

Angry commenters targeted everyone involved.

“That young woman’s action was probably the worst of all three of you involved, and it’s a shame her mean spirited comments against you were applauded by other passengers,” writes S Howard. Others had harsher feelings. “The gal that gave up her seat to lecture you and your mother was the mouthy b-t-h!” wrote Carolyn. A senior herself, Carolyn added: “Just want you to know all old gray haired ladies aren’t like that.”

Arguing to the contrary was Shelley LJ. “My great aunt used to do that sort of thing all of the time….board out of sequence, sit where she wanted, etc,” she wrote. Cristine saw situations like this as a growing trend. “I’m tired of seniors getting a break or a discount just for being alive longer than I,” she wrote.

The flight attendant got a lot of flak too. “It would have been more tactful on the part of the flight attendant to loudly ask if anyone on the plane would give up their window seat instead of practically inciting a riot,” Valerie Prough said.

In my opinion, Helen’s comment said it best:

“Squatting is rude. If you had purchased a house and the day you were moving in discovered that someone else was already in the house, comfortably settled into a rocking chair near the fireplace with a book and a coffee, would you have thought you should redirect your belongings to storage and let the person have your house? What is the difference between that and the airline seat? You paid for it, you had the papers to prove it was yours and the interloper had neither.”

Have thoughts of your own? Share them in the comments section below or in the original post.

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