Some people don’t mind a little chat on the airplane, but what do you do when you’re sitting next to the world’s most effusive babbler and all you want is to read, work, sleep or jump out the window?
It’s not your responsibility to act as your seatmate’s captive audience, but ignoring people is mean and feels awful. Here are five ways to delicately end the conversation.
1. The Book Heisman. Rather than the traditional “stop talking hand,” get your book between you and the talker. This works especially well when you have the window seat; pretend to lean against the airplane wall. Magazines can be even more effective, as they are larger. Once they notice the book is open, and between you, they should get the hint. If not, say “Sorry, I really have to finish this.” Let them figure out why you need to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on their own.
2. Offer them an activity. No, don’t give them a book or puzzle; they’ll ask you for help and talk to you about it the whole time. Just remind them of what they (hopefully) brought. Say: “What did you bring to read? Oh, I haven’t read that book, can I see it?” This gets their book (or laptop, or whatever they have) out of their bag and into their lap. Digging out their own entertainment may have been what they were trying to procrastinate by talking.3. Headphones. The only problem with this is that they’ll know there’s nothing to listen to during takeoff (because that’s before plane music starts and you’re not allowed to use your iPod) or landing. If you can stand it, let them talk through the first few minutes of your flight, then pop the earbuds into your ears and close your eyes or get to work as soon as you can. The trick? You don’t have to actually listen to anything at all. If they ask you anything, make sure they ask at least twice and pretend you didn’t hear them over the music. If they still don’t get the hint, add #1, The Book Heisman.3. Get excited about your activity. Even if it’s feigned,
4. Get excited about your activity. Even if it’s feigned, tell the person you are so excited to read your book, or dive into work, or nap. This works best right after they’ve told you something that you didn’t know (no matter how mundane). “Huh. I didn’t know that. Thanks. [yawn] Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this nap. Have a good flight.” If they interrupt whatever you’re doing, give them the puppy eyes so they remember they’re disturbing you.
5. Honesty. Is it always the best policy? Maybe not always, as this one might make the person feel bad. Still, if you’re tried 1-4 to no avail, the person probably needs someone to level with them about airplane talking: not everyone is into it. You’ll be doing someone on a future flight a favor. “Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t like to talk on the airplane. This is one of the only times I get to be quiet” works well. If that doesn’t work, or you have to repeat it more than once, you are totally within your rights to just ignore the person. You tried to be nice.
More ideas? Share them below.