Was this rude?

January 14, 2013

Let’s play another game of “Was this rude?”! The last time I asked this question we had a great discussion. This morning while flying to Dallas I saw something that seemed questionable to me etiquette-wise. This situation is (IMO) definitely not as controversial as last time, but I still thought I would put it out to the community.

This morning I flew on American to Dallas. I boarded with the Elites, and got comfortable in my window seat. A guy sat in the aisle seat, but didn’t put on his seatbelt or get stuff out—I assume he was waiting to see if someone needed the middle seat. As time passed, the plane (and overhead bins) got more and more full. Eventually I heard a women say, “Mind if I slip in front of you?” and moved (without waiting for an answer) into the space between the guy and the seat in front of him. He assumed (as did I) that the woman needed to get into the middle seat, and moved to stand up and get out of her way. “Oh, don’t get up,” she said. “I’m just waiting to get to my seat up there. I had to put my bag way in the back!” So, the guy just kind of sat there awkwardly while the woman stood very very close to him and waited to get to the front of the plane.

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I’ve seen flight attendants do it often and it doesn’t seem rude then. Plus, well, if you have to get to the front of the plane how else can you do it? But it just seems like it would be super uncomfortable for both parties. Of course, the woman didn’t seem uncomfortable at all, like she did this all the time.

Readers, what do you think? Is it rude to stand in the row in front of someone? What could she have done instead? What would you have done?

Was this rude?

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  1. Suzi said,

    Trying to go against traffic in an airplane aisle is never a good idea. The woman should have gone all the way to the back of the plane and waited until the other passengers had finished boarding thereby eliminating the need to provide unsolicited lap dances.

  2. Cat said,

    Agree with Suzi, although I would not say in this scenario the woman was entirely rude. Maybe she thought the guy was cute and was hoping for a reason to chat? :o)

  3. Mike said,

    She should get topless and give a show.

  4. Victor said,

    Yes it is rude. If there wasn’t an empty isle seat to park herself in then she should have waited in the back until it was clear to move up front.

    Personal space is tight on a plane to begin with. If she was looking for a reason to chat, I call it sleazy.

  5. Nancy said,

    I’m with Suzi. She should have waited in the rear of the aircraft for traffic to thin out. Of course the gentleman could have moved into the center seat to avoid having her crotch in his face but I guess it didn’t bother him.

  6. Luke C said,

    If she was hot = not rude, otherwise = rude.

  7. PH said,

    @Nancy: I think the gentleman was pretty much trapped in his seat by the woman standing in between his knees and the seat in front.

    @Mike: Tisk, tisk, you could have made a cleverer remark that was less crude but still touched upon the situation.

    I have to admit that if I were in the gentleman’s position, how I would feel about it would depend greatly on what I thought of the view. But it does seem a bit odd that the woman didn’t step further in so as to stand in front of the empty middle seat.

  8. Colleen said,

    My mom is 77 and doesn’t look it. She travels some, but not a ton. I can picture her working her way to the back so as not to engage in any “bin wars”. Once she got her bag quietly stashed, I also picture her trying to work her way upstream to her seat. She’s beaming a wide smile and doing the best she can to not interrupt. She’s trying to not impede the boarders and doing what she can to get out of the boarders’ way. They have rollaboards, so she tries best she can to get out of the aisle.
    This may not be the situation described, but I only mention that perhaps a bit of empathy could be in order. We’re not all FTs.

  9. Coolh said,

    I agree with above. If she’s hot, no problem at all, not hot, then get out of my lap.

  10. Lady Violet, Dowager Countess said,

    “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”

    Lady Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

  11. Sean M said,

    It’s sorta like sexual harassment: it’s only rude if it is unwelcomed. I’m guessing that’s why most people’s answers are dependent on whether the person invading the other’s space is attractive.

  12. Carl P said,

    I see a pattern in the male answers. I’ll just go with “not enough information to decide” and leave it open for interpretation.

  13. Scottrick said,

    It depends on how long she was there. Long enough to play a game of Scrabble? Probably rude. If she’s just moving in and out to get around someone, I don’t see a problem. I try to wait in exit rows and galleys when moving against traffic. Or, I just wait in the back until the rows are clear. If the overhead bins are all full, that’s a sign that boarding is almost complete, anyway.

  14. ASuburbanLife said,

    What was rude is that people, probably people sitting further back in the plane, filled up the overhead bins in the front of the plane so that this woman, who was actually sitting in front, couldn’t put her bag closer to where she was sitting.

  15. Andrew said,

    If it wasn’t rude, it was definitely awkward

  16. Noah Kimmel said,

    I dont think it was rude, but I do agree with everyone else here that it could have been handled better by either 1) waiting for a response and empathizing a bit, or 2) waiting in the back of the aircraft or until a FA can help direct her.

    I also agree with @ASuburbanLife completely. I cant stand when people put their bags over row 5 then go to their seats in 25. Its ridiculous. Same on anyone who doesnt put their bags in the bin “wheels in or out” or brings more than 1 iten for the overhead bin. FAs and Gate Agents need to be stricter about this…

  17. Terri said,

    i wouldn’t say it’s rude. just really really awkward. usually, i see people stand sideways while they work their way back upstream. most people don’t mind. or you find an empty aisle seat to wait for an opening in the flow of traffic.

  18. Daniel Schwarz said,

    In such situations I only use empty aisle seats. If somebody is already sitting there then I have to wait.

    It also depends on the culture and region, e.g. in Europe passengers behaving differently than in South America or Asia. In Europe I would pass by people directly in the aisle.

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