Who gets the airplane armrest?

Is it the person in the middle seat?

There have been in-the-air battles over who gets the airplane armrest.

On a recent flight I boarded last, knowing I had a reserved window seat. The woman in the middle seat had claimed and was firmly holding her position—both elbows planted on the armrests as she read her book.  Realizing that, I knew that I had three options: 1) lean into the window and forget about it; 2) build resentment while engaging in the “armrest battle”; or 3) speak up.  I chose option #3,

What’s your vote? Who do you think should get the armrests?

  • a)  the person in the middle seat should have both.
  • b)  the armrests should be shared.
  • c)  the person who arrives first gets to claim the armrests.
  • d) none of the above.

By the way, even etiquette experts disagree on this matter.

As I buckled-up, I looked her way and in a friendly and confident tone, I said, “Hello”, lowering my glance at the armrest, I continued, “I’ll take the back and you can take the front.”  (Obviously I voted for option “b“) She was momentarily perplexed, but quickly replied, “Oh, that’s fine.” while adjusting her elbow toward the front of the armrest.  Problem solved.  I believe that most people want to be accommodating, but for many reasons just don’t think of it or make the move.

Final thoughts: Consideration of others is essential when flying.  You cannot expect to have the comforts of home; you can’t expect the other passengers to adjust to you (they paid for the ticket too); you aren’t the only one who finds the seats getting tighter and tighter.

There’s also the battle of the foot-space. These confined spaces are not made for tall people, and I feel for you, but do not assume you can plant your foot over into my “foot-space.”  

If you require more space, special attention, and more comforts than offered in coach, consider buying a first class ticket, or grin and bear it like the rest of us.

Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills

having lunch with a CEO, business dining etiquetteRosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.