Monday, July 6, 2015

Personal Space in Economy

I love to fly, even in Economy. Fellow passengers are almost always considerate, showing respect for personal space. They might even have interesting stories to tell.

But I do have a few requests for my seat-mates.

Please do not tug on my seat.
If you only follow one request please follow this one: when getting out of your seat, please push on your own seat. If you tug on my seat I will wake from my slumbers. On a long-haul I will make a polite request.

Please bathe and put on clean clothes. I cringe when I recall a nine-hour flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam next to a man who had neither bathed nor changed his clothes in weeks. There were no empty seats, so I felt trapped. I didn't know the trick of holding a coffee pouch close to the face: I could've picked one up from the galley.

Next time I will ask a flight attendant about airline policy as soon as the passenger takes his seat.
"Delta may refuse to transport or may remove passengers from its aircraft... when the passenger has a malodorous condition." [Contract of Carriage.]
This is not rare: just Google smelly passenger.

Before boarding, collect all the things you might need in flight. I use a small string bag.

Bring only what will fit under a seat. If there's no bin space, please put your bag under the seat in front of you. If you try to stuff it under your seat into my foot space I will politely return your bag or hand it to a flight attendant.

Once we're safely in the air you have every right to recline your seat. I will not object, but I expect other passengers to understand how personal space works on a plane. I may choose to recline my seat even during short flights if the person in front reclines.
On a flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo, I was alarmed by an American passenger who was bashing the seat in front of him. He demanded the seat be brought upright, or that he be moved to Business. A flight attendant asked the reclined passenger if he would like to move to Business, which of course he did. I handed the flight attendant a customer comment card describing how well she handled the situation.
During meals it would be a favor if you would bring your seat upright. If you don't, I will try to make eye contact with a flight attendant, then nod towards your seat. The attendant usually takes pity on me and will ask you to put your seat up.

Please do not use an e-cigarette. I was quite surprised to see vape clouds emanating from the passenger next to me on a flight from Memphis to Minneapolis. At the time I did not know the airline policy, so I said nothing. Next time I will pull the call button and ask the flight attendant if it's okay for me to use an e-cigarette. US airlines do not allow e-cigarettes.

So, what about the feet pictured at the top of this post? Earlier this year I had a bulkhead two-across to myself from Tokyo Narita to Chicago O'Hare. It was a lovely flight in ANA's (All Nippon Airways) lowest Economy tier. I chose not to let the feet bother me.

Flying is a privilege. I understand the need for airlines to finally make a profit. I appreciate being able to balance my level of comfort with what I choose to pay.

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