How To Get People To Stop Talking To You On Planes And In Hotel Bars

Your seat opponent starts chatting away, and you’re tired and just want to rest, or you want to work. You’re not up for a conversation, don’t really care about their kids or that their monthly flights and co-brand credit card shows how much they know about the airline and its loyalty program.

So you put on noise cancelling headphones but that doesn’t quite do the trick. Sure, you opt for over the ear rather than ear buds just to make it more blindingly obvious yet somehow it isn’t. You also look down at your phone, which is a universal sign for ‘I’m not paying attention to you.’ But maybe it’s not so universal?

The Washington Post‘s Natalie B. Compton asks about differing views on chit chat with a seat mate, and the proper etiquette surrounding it. The truth is that people aren’t going to follow etiquette and sometimes you need to be a vigilante if you don’t want to talk to a seat mate that doesn’t get the cues.

One TikToker made a video sharing her rather dark hack that gets people not to talk to her.

If you’re ever at a hotel, or I’ve used this on planes as well, where people are next to you and being really loud and rude, and you want to ask them to be quiet, but don’t want to be a [jerk] about it.

If you say to them, “Hey, I’m sorry, could you please quiet down? I have to wake up early for a funeral tomorrow,” every time they immediately feel so bad.

@samiamdean I did this on an airplane these people were so loud and I was like pls I need some sleep #scams #hacks #lifehack #AXERatioChallenge ♬ original sound – Sam❤️‍🔥💎

Boom. Someone might say “I’m sorry.” But they’re going to leave you in peace. And by the way this works in hotel bars too. For single women it’s a much better strategy than a wedding ring (supposed to signal unavailability) since there are men who literally seek out the ring (since anything that happens won’t entail commitment). Just tell them someone died, and the mood dies with it.

Genius, or poor taste?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. In India I just pretended that I didn’t speak English and made up a nonsense language. But that wouldn’t work here. (On the other hand, when a friend gets telemarketer calls she puts on a thick phony accent and says she’s the maid. After getting repeatedly “confused” by the message that the caller is trying to leave they will go away.)

  2. Just say I’m selfish and don’t care about what you have to say. Nothing like the truth!

  3. So a polite but firm “I don’t feel like talking (to you) ” isn’t enough?

    If the airplane isn’t full ask the flight attendant to move you to to a seat where there an open seat(middle) next to it

  4. Those of us who occasionally work in a downtown office surrounded by sidewalks full of humans on Marijuana, off their meds, or tourists asking for directions, already have the requisite skill set. Insistent talkers won’t listen to you or your funeral statement; they’ll just talk and invade your personal space with their sounds, smells, body parts, personal belongings etc.

    Why business class cocoons are worth it on those aircraft. Otherwise, just your basic big city skill set best exemplified by 1976 crazed Travis Bickle “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?”

    Of course, the Golden Age of Travel had muscular men in suits, young ladies in tight dresses, jovially chatting in posh British and French accents. At least the vintage advertisements show that.

  5. As one who has travelled his entire life and especially in today’s world I think introducing yourself to your seat mate is polite and appropriate. The individual always says Nice to meet you and every so often one will say please excuse me but I need to get my work done. I respect that and let her or him initiate any further conversation

  6. Now this one is interesting….
    I am not a gregarious person who need to be friends with everyone — SURPRISE!!!
    By I am attracted to interesting people. When I lobbied frequently I would have members sit next to me in First from DCA, I would introduce myself and if they wanted to talk, so be it. Otherwise fine. (The Senators, e.g., Jon Kyl, always sat in Coach).
    Otherwise pretty much the same. If it looks like we have something in common I will initiate a convo, and see where it goes.
    Otherwise, being who I am, I don’t wish to chat.
    That was all about planes. I don’t hang out in bars any more but if you want the lessons they are $200 a pop 🙂

  7. When I wear my ‘PRISONER OF THE MONTH” shirt from Rikers Island , no one ever seems to talk to me.

  8. Thought about saving up some Jehovah Witness pamphlets and sitting them on my tray facing the other passenger.

    Do they REALLY want to start a conversation with me?

  9. I always pretend to be sound asleep and it works like a charm every single time. Except every time the scotch and water arrives…oh well!!

  10. Or just exude hostile vibes. I do this without being impolite and no one ever speaks to me.

  11. When they say “whose funeral?” Reply “yours if you don’t shut up?”

  12. I mention-at the right time that i work for “Hair Club for Men”. Works every time

  13. “In India I just pretended that I didn’t speak English and made up a nonsense language.”

    This actually works in both India and Nepal. When you are asked for the 3036th time “What is your country?” you reply something like “Gradonsk Bladonsk” and are met with a perplexed look plus the occasional “I do not know this country!”

  14. This is so ridiculous. We now live in a society where, rather than just say “I’m sorry, I’m really not into chit-chat”, this person advocates for telling a lie and making the other person feel bad. That is sociopathic behavior that should worry every one of us, yet instead we all think it’s “normal” and humorous. It isn’t.

    My husband and I were in Florida last week and sitting at our hotel bar when a single man decided to chat up my husband (this seems to happen a lot). My husband engaged politely and then after a couple of minutes of small talk, turned to me and started up a separate conversation. Now this doesn’t work if you’re solo, but I’ve found the VAST majority of people will stop bugging you if you simply disengage. That may involve getting up and moving somewhere else. If you’re on a plane and you don’t want to be bothered, get a good pair of headphones and use them. In my entire life I have never had someone continue to talk to me once the headphones went on. If they expected me to hear them, that was their problem. Again, the key word here is DISENGAGE.

  15. If the person doesn’t know what you do mention that you’re an insurance agent and you’d love to talk to them about the insurance needs for themselves and their family. I happen to be an insurance agent and I have used this effectively to get people to run away from me. How much life insurance do you have? Would be a good follow up question….(groundhog day with Bill Murray or Woody Allen Take the Money and run)

  16. All my neighbors don’t even want to acknowledge others exist. Saying hi scares them

    Have fun when you need some help. I won’t be listening.

  17. Hi Paul L Davis! I have an awesome MLM, I mean business opportunity, for you that you can add to your insurance business. Have you heard of AMWAY?

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