Gentle reminder: Don’t grab the seat in front of you!

This past Monday I had my first super-early flight in several months. I had to be at the airport at 5am, which meant I got up at 4. plane seatJust a bit of information for y’all: I am not a morning person. At. All. At 4am I was trying to put my makeup on, staring into the mirror at bloodshot eyes…. Anyway. My first flight was only 20 minutes so there was basically no chance of taking a nap. But as soon as I sat down on my flight from Houston to New York I fell asleep. Not the total, weird-dreams-and-snoring sleep, but the half-sleep, where you’re still kind of aware of what’s going on.

After several minutes I knew we had taken off, and several minutes more I heard the “Ding!” of the seatbelt sign going off. For ten more minutes I floated in that half-sleep state, reasonably comfortable. Then the elderly gentleman behind me had to get up to use the lav. The only reason I know this is because he grabbed my seat and used it to pull himself up. He pulled up so vigorously that my head whipped back. And when my head inevitably tried to go forward, it couldn’t, because the man had ahold of my hair. Not a ton, but enough to have my scalp screaming in agony as he inadvertently tried to rip it out.

Y’all. Please. For the love of all things, don’t use the seat in front of you to pull yourself up. (Unless it’s empty—then pull away.) I have never been so rudely awoken as I was at that time. I know he didn’t mean to yank my hair out by the roots, and probably would have been horrified if I had told him what had transpired. The Home Warrior asked if I said anything, but I was so disoriented from getting jarred awake into such a painful state that I don’t know what I would even have said. Even though it’s so much easier to get up using the seat in front of you, don’t do it! Resist! I have practiced getting up using my own seat so much that it’s become second nature. Try to do it during your next few flights, and I bet you do it without realizing after that. Then we can all get some sleep in peace!

Readers, gotten any whiplash from people using your seat as a handle? Do you try to use only your own seat to get up?

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  1. perhaps it’s not as violent as grabbing the seat, but modern IFE with touch screen always annoys me when someone behind keeps playing games on it…

  2. 1. One reason I seek the last row of seats, if I have to fly coach.

    2. I have had my share of arguments over this issue. Once, on a flight from Amsterdam to Dar Es Salaam, an older man behind me (I was in the bulkhead row) kept on grabbing my seat in the same fashion. Finally I demanded to know why he had to grab my seat back when getting up.

    3. He said, he “had to,” in order to get up. So I showed him how it was done: By pushing one’s hands downward against one’s OWN seat, or against the arm rests. He moved to an other seat.

    4. Sometimes we frequent flyers have to speak up !!!

  3. Road Warriorette, next time please introduce the similarly-horrendous practice of many in using the space between the bulkhead and one’s seat as an AISLE.

  4. I’ve “fixed” a few habitual seat grabbers in my time, after the first time ( I give them one) once I hear them starting to get up, I sit up and hold the recline button in so the seat back gives and they to tumbling.

    only need to do it once for them to get the message.

  5. I was sleeping in an aisle seat once and someone nearby got up to get their rollaboard out of the overhead directly above me. They yanked it out of the overhead and _dropped it_ directly onto my headrest, proceeded to open it up, and get something out.

    But being that I’m 6′ 1″, my head sticks out over the top of the headrest. So they didn’t drop it onto the headrest, but rather my head.

    I think I involuntarily yelled a curse word…let me tell you, that hurt like a SOB. The offender didn’t even realize what they had done.

  6. I too have long hair and have had it pulled too many times to count. One ear piercing scream seems to do the trick. (I might have in the past been not so vocal and quickly lowered the seat once their tray table was down….)

  7. This is really annoying. Most of the time I find it with elderly or overweight folks. I am willing to cut the old farts some slack but if your fat I just get more pissed.
    Never had the hair pull but I’ve met a few women that would consider that an upgrade.

  8. I hate this as well but I also don’t like those same type of folks using the isle seat backs as crutches as they grab each one to lean against as they hit your elbows going down the isle. I cut elderly folks a lot of slack on this but many that do it are just slobs.

  9. So so aggravating. Why does it never occur to anyone that if you’re using the seat to pull your FULL body weight up, the person in that seat has to feel it too?

  10. It physics people. If your seat is reclined at modern coach seat pitches, then the person behind you cannot get their center of gravity over their feet.

  11. Yes, thanks for bringing this one up and it annoys me big time. Declining row space is the first problem. Second problem is our lack of courtesy towards one another in public spaces. Third problem is perhaps not wanting to wake someone in the middle, so we tend to step over them and grab anything to avoid disrupting them.

  12. It used to make me really, really angry when this happened to me on a plane, until I started to get symptoms of my connective tissue disorder. Now I have a very hard time getting in and out of seats (bus, car, plane, whathaveyou) without something to hold on to. Pushing up from the arm rest isn’t enough.

    I try to never grab a seat anyway, since I know it’s annoying, which means I end up sort of slamming myself into the seat or leaping out of it. But I can only do that if I have enough room. When leaving the plane I can just wait for everyone else in my row to have moved and use that space, but if it’s mid-flight I do sometimes have to grab a seat back to be able to stand. I don’t grab the head rest part, though, and I try really hard to not shake the seat.

    I’m young and, by all appearances, totally healthy, so I know every time someone sees me slam my butt down or grab the seat in front they’ll think I’m just a jerk wad. I try really hard not to mess with other people’s space but sometimes there’s nothing else I can do. We all gotta share the world.

  13. I used to escort my elderly parents on their annual trek to Florida each winter. My father would invariably grab the seatback in front of him when he (frequently) rose to make his way to the bathroom during the flight. A gentle reminder from me didn’t stop this behavior, so I subsequently booked him in bulkhead seats the following years. Problem solved.

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