Airline seat as buffet rebuffed, only take what you buy

airline seatsWhen you go to a buffet, you know what to expect: take as much as you want. You pay once, and then you can consume all that you like. It’s the nature of the environment. This stands in stark contrast to other restaurants, where you pay for an entrée and get nothing more. If you want an appetizer, you have to shell out a few extra bucks – likewise dessert. As a society, we have learned to live with this, even to expect it.

Yet, this changes as soon as we start boarding planes. We want more than we’re paying for, even if it comes at the expense of someone else.

I was cruising through the travel news this morning and saw a Q&A story on ABC News about fights over the armrest. One passenger wants it up, and the other wants to put it down. A fight ensues, unless one of the passengers is reseated.

The question was simple: is it unreasonable to insist that the armrest go down when the passenger next to you is spilling over into your seat? Remember: airline seating isn’t a buffet.


The advice given by ABC News writer Lesley Carlin was on point, indicating that a passenger is entitled to the space she pays for, no exceptions. I was heartened to see her assessment, “Airplane seats are, quite simply, ridiculous,” which though obvious, needs to be restated routinely.

Carlin explains:

But, still, despite the underlying issues with the seats, when you buy a ticket, you’re buying a particular amount of space on the plane. It’s not fair for someone else to usurp some of it. If you live in an apartment and buy a Christmas tree that turns out to be too tall, you can’t just cut a hole in your ceiling and let some of it poke into your upstairs neighbor’s place, right? That’s exactly what the passenger leaning into your space was doing, and that’s not cool.

So, would you eat from a stranger’s plate … without asking?

[photo by InfoMofo via Flickr]