Etiquette reminder: Stabbing seatmate with a pen probably not the best way to communicate

So, this happened.4-17-15-1

CNN reported that a plane from Chicago to New Hampshire was delayed because a woman stabbed her seatmate in the arm with a pen to get him to stop snoring.

(I have to pause for a minute, because I almost don’t know what to say to this. I just want to let it sink in—when the man next to her started snoring, this woman’s reaction was to stab him with a pen.)

The plane had not yet taken off, so it was sent back to the gate, the woman was removed, and the flight continued on its merry way to New Hampshire.

Okay. Where do I even start? How about, don’t do this! If your seatmate is snoring, there are a variety of different ways to handle this. You could nudge them gently, see if that wakes them up enough to stop. Or you could actually wake them up and let them know they’re snoring. If you want to be less aggressive, pretend to drop something and jostle them as you pick it up. If you really want to not confront them, get a flight attendant! They will be more than happy to help. In my experience, people who are snoring usually stop after a few minutes anyway. The pressure changes, they move positions, or wake themselves up. Worst case, put your headphones in and listen to something that makes you happy.

When I initially heard the story I was horrified, but didn’t plan to write much about it because obviously the stabby woman is nuts and this is a completely unlikely scenario. However, the husband of a woman in one of the message boards I follow was on a flight affected by this incident, and she posted about it this morning. In the resulting discussion several people actually sympathized with the woman, saying that snoring really bothers them and stabbing him in the arm with a pen was justified.

So since there are (surprisingly) other people who would react this way, I wanted to give some other options for handling a snoring seatmate. By the way, a few years ago when I was pregnant with my son and was on a long 18-hour travel day I fell asleep in an airport and started snoring. I was mortified when I woke up and realized what had happened! Like, I still can’t talk about it (or write about it) without turning red. So maybe I have a little sympathy for this guy who fell asleep within minutes of getting on a plane. And zero sympathy for the crazy lady who stabbed him in the arm with a pen. I’m just glad the guy had sleeves—otherwise it may have drawn blood.

(Heels First Travel also mentioned this today, with a picture from the story and a few interesting comments.)

Readers, how would you handle it if your seatmate started snoring? Have you ever snored (to your knowledge) on a flight?

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  1. I just wanted to let you know how much I really enjoy reading your blog, I love your take on this incident. Also, best of luck and good wishes for the upcoming arrival of your twins.

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