Poll: Rude or not?

Readers, last night on a flight from Dallas I witnessed an interesting etiquette situation, and I want to get your take on it. A petite woman had found her seat and was looking for a place to stow her large backpack. Two rows in front of her, a tall guy was muscling his rollaboard into the overhead bin. There was plenty of room next to his bag, so she very politely asked him for a hand. “Excuse me,” she said. “Could you please help me?” He started to say yes, but then stopped. “Oh, my buddy is going to put his bag there. Sorry.” He then sat down. The three or four of us that witnessed this kind of gaped at him. The man behind him said, “Friend, that might come back to haunt you.” The woman was forced to go to the back of the plane to find a spot for her bag.

Honestly, I go back and forth with this. In the moment, it felt incredibly rude. But thinking about it later, I wonder: does it make sense to save a spot for your friend’s bag, even from someone who was on the plane first? Or does the person on the plane first deserve the spot? The ironic thing was that the buddy, who did indeed place his rollaboard in that spot, was sitting next to the woman who had asked for help.

Readers, what do you think?

Was this rude?

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  1. Where did the Richard think he was at, kids band concert and holding seats for grandma???? First come first served. Status has its perks. A place for my bag in the same zipcode is one of them.

  2. Yes, rude on many levels. This isn’t the jr. high lunch table. No saving spots for your friends who board later. I mean, you can hope you get lucky enough for that to happen, but in this case he was rude all the way. I would have been quite tempted to say I would help and to put the bag in the “saved” spot.

  3. Forgot to add, if the guy had said “I’m saving that spot for my buddy, but let me help you find somewhere else”, that would have at least been better. People either forget manners on the plane, or they just never had them in the first place.

  4. Since when can you save bag spots? That’s one of the benefits of getting on the plane first – you get to put your bag close to you. I would have helped her put her bag up there over the man’s objections.

  5. I also think saving the spot in the first place is rude. He has no idea how much room his friend’s bag will take up. So he’s going to prevent others from getting their bags up there when who knows if the friend needs all the room!

  6. I would say this wasn’t that rude. I’m of the philosophy that unless you are disabled, elderly, or a child you should be able to lift your own luggage into the overhead bin. If you can’t, you shouldn’t have packed so much that you can’t lift your own luggage (same thing goes with being able to maneuver your suitcase before checking it). There won’t always be someone there to help you so you can only rely on yourself. In this case she wouldn’t have had to ask for help if she could have put the luggage up herself, therefore avoiding the whole situation.

  7. @HikerT–neither bag was oversized. The backpack was large for a backpack, but not too large to fit overhead. The rollaboard was normal sized.

    @Kelly and @snuggliestbear–Yeah, I struggled with that part of it too. I’ve been checking my bag lately, even though it sucks, because I just can’t lift it anymore. But does that mean that what the guy did was not rude?

  8. Why didn’t the woman just put the bag in the overhead bin herself? You shouldn’t be carrying a bag that you can’t even lift into the overhead bin!

  9. She should have put it in herself! It would have been rude to block her attempt, but not rude to deny moving her bag into the spot.

  10. I’m somewhat in agreement with snuggliestbear although if by petite you meant she was to short she wouldn’t have been able to lift her luggage regardless of how strong she was and in that case it would have been generous of the male passenger to help her… From his perspective, we don’t always have to feel obligated to help others and I would assume like most other people on earth he put his friend first, albeit in the wrong situation.

  11. Whoever boards first gets first chance at the overhead – that is a benefit of priority boarding. If the man was so concerned about his friend he should brought his friend’s carry-on when he boarded. Yes – rude!!

  12. As a flt. att. for a major airline, I see this happens every flight.
    Is it rude, “yes”, but it is the norm with air travel and passengers today.

  13. Her backpack should have gone under the seat in front of her, not in the overhead bin.

  14. @Cici–I’m not sure I necessarily agree with that. She had a purse and her backpack, so (assuming she can lift it, and find room) shouldn’t her backpack be able to go in the overhead bin? Maybe a subject for a later poll….

  15. Incredibly rude.

    To address some comments on why she didn’t put her bag in the overhead herself: one of my cousins is short, not even 5 foot. Given her vertical limitation she has difficulty reach the overhead bin regardless of how big or small her bag.

  16. To all the folks who think she should have tried it herself… I’m one of those annoying guys sitting in the aisle and there’s nothing I enjoy more than ducking while someone too short or unable to handle their bag swings it around my head. If I see it I offer to help as self preservation but primarily because that how I was brought up. Common courtesy. The guy “holding” a spot was a jerk.

  17. definitely rude! you can’t save overhead bin space for a friend. it’s first come first serve.

    and as a shortie myself, i appreciate the help of taller people to make sure i don’t accidentally knock someone in the head with my suitcase. in all other occasions, i can carry and lift my suitcase on my own, but i guess i need to work on my overhead dead lift and presses to have appropriate shoulder, arm and back strength! 🙂

  18. If I was the guy sitting behind him, the only thing Bubba would have heard was my belt unbuckling while I jumped up to put her bag in that spot. Well, then maybe I would have moved my 2 year old to the seat behind him.

  19. Completely rude, and I would hope that the FA would have intervened if s/he overheard this exchange. Prime baggage space is the main benefit of early boarding. This guy was denying the female passenger the rights and privileges that the airline had given to her. Behavior like that should result in revoked privileges.

  20. By Road Warriorette’s description, the man did not actively prevent the woman from using the overhead bin space. If the woman then had to go toward the back of the plane (no other space available nearby), it’s not clear that this was still in the early boarding phase, in which case the woman wouldn’t have had any special privilege that she was trying to exercise. Even if she was an early boarder, the man doesn’t thereby accrue any special *obligation* to help her take advantage of her privilege. If a flight attendant had decided to intervene and made the man feel bad, I would say that the flight attendant would have overstepped his or her employee duty. On the other hand, if the flight attendant merely stepped in to help the woman stow her bag, I’d certainly have no issue with that.

    Don’t get me wrong, personally I am one of those passengers who will quickly step up to help other passengers with stowing their bags — whether male or female, old or young, I’ll help if it looks like they’re struggling or are going to struggle with the task. But I think in this case, the man was only mildly rude.

  21. Not rude at all. Why did she want to place her luggage in a bin 2 rows in front of her seat? Why didn’t she use the bin over HER seat? I’m tired of boarding a plane only to find that someone not seated in my row has taken up the bin space over my seat.

  22. Rude, rude, rude. Had I witnessed it, I would have considered putting the woman’s bag up for her in the RESERVED spot. How big was he exactly?While RM (#26) might have a point, the facts don’t support his case. First, the space above her was taken presumably by someone not in her row. Second, the space she asked for was eventually taken by someone WHO SAT NEXT TO HER. Finally, at least in my opinion, bin space is fair game. No one owns the space above their seat.

  23. He was rude but she shouldn’t carry on a bag that she can’t handle. I’m short and I have been known to stand on a seat to reach the overhead bin. She shouldn’t have to depend on others. Or sadly enough expect kindness from other.

  24. Ha – Jamison, I was going to say that I’ve stood on a seat too if no other solutions presented themselves!

    And generally, if I start shoving something up in a high bin & it’s clear I can’t really reach well, SOMEONE around me will help out…I think that guy was completely rude, but I also think she should have stood up for herself more.

    Also, I have to say I don’t really understand the obsession for only traveling with a carry-on. I’m not at all afraid to check a bag on my company’s dime. They pay the fee, I spend a bit more time waiting for baggage, but my clothes are also less wrinkled & I have more options once I get there. Of course, I’m also usually traveling to hot locations for a minimum of a week & don’t really want to re-wear items much, if possible. Plus, my laptop is really heavy, so between my computer bag & my purse, I don’t actually *want* to manage another bag in the airport.

  25. It’s been said, but I wanted to weigh in: as is often the case, it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. The woman should not bring on board more than she can handle herself. If she is too short to extend her reach to get her bag into the overhead, and she wants to carry something on, she should only bring what can fit under the seat in front of her. You cannot expect someone to do you favors. (Then it’s not a favor, is it?)
    On the other hand, the man was rude, no question. I have never seen anyone “save” space in an overhead before, and overhead space is most definitely first come first served. And I do not think it is beyond the flight attendant’s responsibility to say that the woman had the right to the space. Flight attendants move bags around all the time in the overheads to help make space.

    Aside to the person who suggested that checking bags is the way to go: I disagree, especially for work travel. It just takes too long and is too unreliable.

  26. Very rude. Saving bin space for someone boarding later? Ridiculous! One of the main reason I enjoy having status with the airline is so that I can board first and have room for my carryon luggage.

    That being said, she shouldn’t be boarding with a bag she can’t manage herself. But that doesn’t make his “saving” the space any less rude.

    @yasmura – many of us are “obsessed” with traveling only with carryons because we don’t like wasting time (easily 1/2 hour on each side of a flight, so 2 hours for a round-trip) and don’t like risking loss.

    Frankly, I don’t understand those who are obsessed with taking their entire closet with them on a trip. 😉 I’ve spent 3 weeks in India, a week each in Hawaii, Italy, and on a cruise, and various other trips with only carryon luggage. It’s about packing smart.

  27. 1/ Many airlines say – “you must be able to place your hanbaggagge in the overhead bin without assistance”. This was clearly not the case

    2/ The guy was rude.

    3/ What about the other passangers – none of them obviously offered THEIR help. If they had, the “buddy” would have been out of luck.

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