Katherine Hayton | The battle for middle armrest
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10 Apr / The battle for middle armrest

There’s a certain amount of courtesy required in public transportation because without it the whole structure will be in danger of collapsing and falling apart.

Even on the bus this is observed with attention to detail, and if it’s not? Well, you don’t want to be seated next to that bus passenger.

So I always find it quite surprising that for $2.90 I receive the same courtesy I afford others, yet for $199.00 it’s entirely absent.

People next to you on the bus stare out the window if they’re on the window side, and stare at their phone on the aisle side. No one sits next to another passenger unless all the double seats have an occupant and there’s no choice. You don’t talk to anyone if you can help it, unless they’re mentally irregular in which case you nod and agree.

On aeroplanes however, these observed rules appear to be unknown to the general populace. Middle seat strangers will pin you against the window with their non-stop chatter knowing that you can’t get off round the corner and walk a little bit extra to avoid the conservation. Sometimes they do this while I have earphones – the world renowned symbol for I don’t want to talk to you – plugged deep into my ear canal.

People in the window stare longingly at the aisle, and people in the aisle crane for a glance out the window.

Nothing however, is as galling as the aisle side passenger believing that they are entitled to two -count them two- armrests.

Please bear with me as I point out the most well known and least applied rule of aeroplane etiquette.

The aisle seat had the aisle armrest. The window seat had the window armrest. The middle seat, and I hope you’re following me this far, has both armrests.

Yes folks. The poor passengers crammed into the seat beside their travelling companion because they lost the toss, or find themselves crammed between two strangers because they checked in late, have two armrests at their disposal. God only knows, I wish we could give them more, and aeroplane seat configuration designers less.

So what happens when me and my darling have played turnabout and I’m sitting in the middle? Armrest theft.

Those exalted aisle passengers with their head in the clouds and their minds in the Fifty Shades of Gray gutter, for some reason forget this most elementary and sensible piece of common courtesy.

Well, no more aisle dwellers. I’m calling you at your own game and fighting you for MY armrest. I don’t care what sorry of day you’ve had, our why your eyes are red and swollen. That’s my armrest and you will respect my authoritah.

And if you don’t think I’m right, then why don’t you press your call button and have a chat to the air steward. Yeah, I’d like to see you try.

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By Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog

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