Pitching a fit on an airplane
When we board an airplane, most of us try to find an empty row, choosing either the aisle or window seat.
But, when you are at the end of the line, your seat selection diminishes. You know that feeling as you slowly step onto the plane, your neck stretches from side to side to scan the plane in hopes of finding a coveted aisle or window seat.
Then you’ve got the odd, ahem, considerate person who instead of taking an aisle or window seat, sits next to you, in the middle seat. Oh, that’s fine, if there aren’t any other seats available! In this case, there were, and plenty. As she sat right next to me, the darling girl explained to me, “I like to keep the favored seats open for others because I don’t mind sitting in the middle seat.” I said nothing; it was a short flight.
On a recent Baltimore to Seattle flight, a woman was asked to deplane; Captain’s orders. Here’s why: Seated in the middle seat, next to her very quiet husband who was seated in the aisle seat, social skills dictates that it’s nice to strike up a conversation with your seatmate. And she did, with the man sitting next to her. Her opening line was to ask him if he was here to protest the inauguration. Well, she didn’t expect the answer she got, so, she began lecturing him, and all was caught on camera. Because she continued to “pitch a fit,” she was asked to deplane.
Q: A woman who sat next to me started talking about the election, not her President, etc. Personally, I did not vote for Mr. Trump, but, I’m on the road to acceptance and don’t want to engage in negative conversations. I didn’t know how to stop this woman. How can I handle it next time? –Brendan
A: Hmm, I wonder if it was the same woman who recently gave me a similar lecture. It seemed that she needed to let it all out, so I listened and nodded appropriately. She never asked me anything; she did all the talking. When I realized that she just getting started, I applied strategy number 2.
Here are five strategies to consider:
- Smile, and pretend you don’t speak the same language. (Be careful not to be caught when ordering your scotch on the rocks.)
- While pulling out your book/laptop, say, “You’ll have to excuse me, I have a lot of reading/writing to do, enjoy the trip.”
- Say, “I prefer not to talk about that.”
- Listen, nod, smile and say, “That’s an interesting perspective.”
- Pretend you’re sleeping.
Final thoughts: Pitching a fit is not a good idea. If you believe that it’s necessary to get up in somebody’s grill while seated in an airplane, you may find yourself seated in the waiting area hoping another airline will take you home.
Even if your seatmate concurs with you and continues the conversation, maintain a low voice, keep your words professional and civil; not everyone is anxious know what you think. Social skills and good manners are essential in the air.
I’m Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility & Etiquette Speaker/Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”
I offer presentations to support HR policies, sales team, managers, as part of the new-hire orientation process, in-home technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me.
photo source: Facebook