Why are people climbing over me to get to their airplane seat??

middle seatDoes it seem like your average airplane seat is getting smaller? And the space between those seats is also getting smaller? Yes! We all know that airlines have been squeezing in as many seats as possible to make as much money as possible per flight. That’s not new. So then why would someone try to squeeze into the tiny space between me and the seat in front of me, trying to get to their window seat, rather than just wait for me to stand up? It wasn’t just one person, or even two. On my most recent trip four individual people started to climb over me, all the while I’m trying to stand up and get out of their way.

Y’all, help me understand this because I am at a loss. Is it because people think it’s less polite to make the person in the aisle get up? Or they are trying to get out of the way to speed up boarding? Or something I’m not thinking of? After this happened a few times in a row several months ago I basically stopped reading my phone or Kindle during boarding, just to make sure I wasn’t missing someone needing to get into my row. Maybe it’s just the summertime vacation flyers, and I need to just wait it out.

The best way to get to your middle or window seat is to stop at your row and politely alert the person sitting in the aisle seat that you need to sit down. Wait patiently for them to stand and move out of your way, then enter the row and get situated. Pro tip:  If someone in front of you is waiting for someone to get up so they can sit, don’t move forward in the aisle and block their seat (yes, this happened  to me as well). Wait for them to get back in their row and then continue down the aisle.

Readers, do you prefer aisle or window seats? Have people tried to crawl over you to get to their seat?


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  1. Maybe they have run in to several people who wouldn’t get up so they could get by. I have that happen all the time and I’m a big guy. That is there one that shocks me. Do you really think slightly slanting your knees gives me enough room to get out?

  2. It’s a strange phenomenon that works both ways. As a 6’5″ weekly flyer who is almost always on the aisle, I’ve experienced the same thing many times despite my knees leaving not an inch of space to squeeze past. On the rare occasion where I’ve been middle or window I’ve also had aisle passengers expect me to climb over them. I refuse to entertain either scenario – this ain’t Twister! Wish I could figure it out…kind of a combination of some folks trying to be polite, while others are just plain inconsiderate.

  3. I think it is a combination of lack of patience and lack of social awareness. Both of these things rear their ugly heads when traveling.

  4. I have had the opposite happen – people seated at the middle or window seat climbing over me to EXIT the plane!! Since there is usually a long lag time from when the seatbelt sign goes off to when we actually are walking to exit the plane, I usually stay seated until the rows in front of me are actually leaving. This completely bewilders the fellow passengers in my row, and I don’t know why. So yes, on more than one occasion, I have had people climb over me to stand in a crowded aisle, bump and shove people as they try to retrieve their bag, only to continue to wait in the aisle for their turn to deplane. It is so irritating to me that I’ve started sitting at the window seat except on extra long flights.

  5. I had an unfortunate experience of a middle seat passenger not getting up for me, and me slipping on the plastic from his blanket on the floor and ending up plonking myself down on his seat as well. Lucky he was a 10yo boy and there was a small lip on the seat to prevent me falling all the way to the floor while I tried to avoid squishing him! And what’s worse is he did not learn from this and continued to make me climb over him for the rest of the 12hr flight!

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