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Galley Gossip: Elbow attacks and armrest wars (the battle continues)
In his blog post detailing the incident, Brian Cuban (AKA the elbow assaulter) wrote, "This was coach. Space is tight. Baby's are going to cry. There are going to be unwelcome smells. People are going to recline their seat into your groin. Shoulders are going to occasionally touch."
I have to agree with Brian. An airplane is public transportation. Unfortunately there is very little personal space on board and therefore anything in the armrest area is fare game for accidental contact.
Sixteen years ago when I first started flying, my roommate who was also new got called out to cover a trip as the lead flight attendant on a 767. As she got ready for the trip, we discussed all the things that could possibly go wrong in flight with her in command of the crew; oven fires, faulty hydraulics, decompressions, medical emergencies, and worse. Not once did it occur to us that an armrest could cause two passengers to come to blows! Which is what would have happened if my roommate hadn't stepped in and assigned the armrest to one passenger for the first three hours of flight and the same armrest to the other passenger for the last half of the flight. Afterwards we laughed at how ridiculous it was that two grown men couldn't work it out amongst themselves. Little did we know just how often we'd be summoned to settle disputes over reclined seats and claimed armrests.
Do we all need to go back to Kindergarten and learn how to play nice?
Here's a tip. Don't jump to conclusions. Most people aren't aware of what they're doing. Take for instance the guy with the enormous backpack who keeps knocking into everyone on his way down the aisle. Let him know what's going on and I bet he'll be pretty apologetic - and embarrassed. It also helps to get to know the person a little better before tweeting or facebooking to the world that they're an idiot. When asked politely, you might be surprised to find they have no problem scooting over, putting their seat back up, or stopping their kid from kicking the back of your seat. Keep in mind it's always easier to make a request when you've had a friendly conversation first. This is why I try to make small talk with passengers during boarding. For the record, an evil glare is not the best form of communication. Nor is kicking back or telling someone you're going to punch their lights out if they do it one more time. It might help to imagine you're speaking to a long lost relative on your mother's side of the family, not an A-hole you'll never see again, when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Most importantly, give each other the benefit of the doubt. It makes life a whole lot less stressful.
Photo courtesy of DavityDave