I believe it’s important to respect everyone’s dignity no matter the circumstances, so rest assured that I’ve tried to write this post with the deepest respect for everyone, understanding that we can all be on either side of the coin here, given the right circumstances. I recently flew on an 8-hour international flight. I sat on a window seat in economy plus of a 777-200. I was quite happy because up to boarding time it appeared that the middle seat remained empty out of three total on the flight. Then the passenger assigned to the aisle seat of my row arrived. From the minute the passenger reached the row, I felt a very strong and unpleasant odor. I looked around to see what or who could’ve been the cause of it. Then the aisle seat passenger sat down. Clearly, it was the passenger. I began to wonder how in the world I was going to deal with this. You see, there’s bad, there’s really bad, and then there’s whatever this was… At this point I was hoping no one would seat in the middle seat, not because of my comfort, but because of their own well-being. Doors closed. Middle seat empty. (Maybe it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to have someone sit there as a buffer after all). So at this point I start thinking about how I’m going to handle this. I knew the flight was quite full and that the only seats left were 3 middle seats nearby. I can’t stand middle seats. Being so close to one person is bad enough, but two…? Ahhhh!
What do I do?
Although I thought about it, I didn’t want to bring this up to the flight attendant. I reasoned that the only thing she would’ve or possibly could’ve done was offer me one of the three empty seats, which I really didn’t want anyway. But also perhaps in the process the passenger would realize what was going on, and I’d hate for the passenger to feel embarrassed (though we all should be self-aware). Again, I wanted to respect their dignity. So I kept on thinking about what to do and then I had a light bulb moment. The middle seat was empty, so I decided to blast the air and point the nozzles at the middle seat, creating a barrier of sorts between me and the ‘problematic’ passenger. I tried to make sure I wasn’t bothering the person by pointing them closest to me, without bothering me either. It worked wonders! I could breathe again!!
Hearing about so many fights breaking out in airports and airplanes, sometimes it may be best to avoid conflict for the sake of keeping the peace. Unfortunately in the world we live in we just can trust that people will be understanding and empathetic. So from now I’ll make sure to try and think outside the box to deal with uncomfortable situations and avoid as much as possible situations that my upset fellow passengers. Even though I may have some rights, it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to try to get my way every time.
In conclusion, there are times when stepping up and confronting fellow passengers or bringing an issue to the fight attendants’ attention is necessary; and when it’s necessary, I sure will. But if I can help it…if I can figure out a way to avoid a tense and uncomfortable situation with a fellow passenger, I will. There’s no shame or weakness in being proactive and trying, even to one’s disadvantage, to keep the peace.