How much seat grabbing is too much?

Is seat grabbing obnoxious? Or are we too sensitive? Reader B asks….

A coworker and I were flying to Florida last week and got into a debate. We noticed a young man walking down the aisle during boarding, and he leaned heavily on every seat as he passed it. I was sitting in the aisle seat and found it unnecessary and annoying. My coworker was in the window and thought I was overreacting. Which of us is right?

Generally I think the only time it’s acceptable for someone to use a seat for assistance of any kind is when it’s either empty or it’s their own seat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been woken from a sound sleep or jarred out of a very productive work session by someone using my seat as a handle to get up. When you see someone use a seat for leverage it doesn’t look like a big deal. But when it’s your own seat you realize how much it moves!

Here’s the thing. If you need so much assistance getting down the aisle that you have to lean heavily on every seat as you pass it then your best bet is to pre-board. If you don’t need the assistance and you just don’t realize how much it impacts the passenger in the seat, well, now you know.

So you are definitely right! And I’d bet that your coworker would agree if she were sitting in your seat.

Readers, do you agree?


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  1. I am very careful not to grab seats while walking down the aisle. However, the continual shrinkage of seat pitch has significantly contributed to seat grabbing when sitting or rising. I honestly apologize to all those sitting in seats I have grabbed or will grab in the future. I do try my best to not. Oh, how I miss the dqys when I could actually stand straight up in my seat’s row. . .

  2. Agree completely with ScrapbookHero. I try to avoid this wherever possible, but between being crammed in like sardines, narrow aisles, and the occasional bit of turbulence while lining up for the toilet, it’s often tough to impossible to avoid.

  3. Seat grabbing and being whacked my a passing backpack are my two top pet peeves on aircraft. I think that before boarding the aircraft, the GA should make an announcement to ask people to take off their backpacks when boarding, and to not grab the seat in front of them when on the aircraft. I know this will never happen, but it remains a top wish of mine..

  4. I generally don’t like it. I will say I have a plot more patience when the grabber is elderly or when it’s someone grabbing during an unexpected bit of turbulence.

  5. I have had this experience a lot as of late. I think that many people, especially those that are older, have weak wrists from typing and cannot lift their body weight by pushing down on the arm rests, or in the case of the middle seat, the seatmates have hogged the arm rests, forcing the person to grab the seat in front of them. I lost a chunk of hair from my last flight to a little old lady in the seat behind me.

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