How to be a great seatmate

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To quote Forrest Gump, seatmates are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get.

To quote Forrest Gump, seatmates are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get. From the non-stop talkers to the drunks, there are plenty of seatmate qualities that make us cringe.

But are you a good seatmate? Check out these tips below and learn how you can be a great neighbor on your next flight.

Mind your personal hygiene

Deodorant (Image: IK's World Trip)
Deodorant (Image: IK’s World Trip)

Airplanes don’t exactly have the best ventilation, so if you’re smelling funky, rest assured your seatmate is going to notice. Before your flight, don’t forget personal hygiene basics like showering, brushing your teeth and putting on deodorant. Don’t go overboard, though: Too much perfume or cologne can put your neighbors in a miserable position.

Don’t be a chatty Cathy

Resist the urge to tell your seatmate your life story — please. While small talk and pleasantries can set the tone for a comfortable flight, over-talking your seatmate can turn a three-hour flight into a personal torture chamber. If your seatmate initiates conversation and seems okay with talking up a storm, then feel free to chat the flight away; otherwise, remember that silence is golden.

Be a polite sleeper

Nothing says invasion of personal space like a seatmate who uses your shoulder as a pillow, or worse, a drool rag. If you know you’re going to try to catch some Zs on your flight, try using a neck pillow that keeps your head in the upright and locked position.

Ditch the stinky snacks

Durian (Image: YIM Hafiz)
Durian (Image: YIM Hafiz)

Remember how airplanes don’t have great ventilation? When you open up a tuna fish sandwich or an especially smelly fruit like durian, you’re not just a bad seatmate — you’re a bad flight-mate. Pack something odor-neutral for the flight and save the stinky snacks for after you land.

Quell your anxieties

Plenty of people get a little nervous when it comes to flying, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to use your seatmate as your personal therapist. Rather than clinging to your neighbor’s arm at the first sign of turbulence, try learning a few coping techniques so you can soothe yourself if you feel a little anxious. Breathing techniques, visualization and meditation are just a few of the options you can use to calm yourself.

Watch your alcohol intake

Wine (Image: spacepleb)
Wine (Image: spacepleb)

It might be tempting to load up on mini bottles of wine and liquor on your flight, especially when they’re complimentary, but drinking too much can make you a nightmare for the people sitting next to you. Too much alcohol opens you up to breaking the previously stated rules of not talking your seatmate’s ear off, being a polite sleeper and minding your personal hygiene. And in-flight, your seatmate can’t avoid you like he could at the bar. Feel free to have a drink or two, but leave it at that.

What are your deal breakers when it comes to seatmates? Let us know in the comments!

(Main image: angeloangelo)

How to be a great seatmate was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.