My Travel Pet Peeve That’s Even Worse Than Bare Feet on the Bulkhead

Regular readers probably think my biggest single pet peeve about flying is bare feet on the bulkhead.

In fact, there are many things far worse that happen in travel such as this, this, and this.

However if there’s one thing that actually frustrates me about passengers on a weekly basis it’s people who climb over you or expect you to climb over them.

  • If you’re seated in the window seat, and your seat opponent is on the aircraft first and in the aisle, and they do not get up to let you in. Instead they expect you to maneuver between them and the seat in front of them in order to reach your spot.
  • Or you’re seated in the aisle. Your seatmate in the window wants to get up mid-flight. Instead of letting you know so you can put your belongings aside and get up into the aisle to make room, they just start climbing over you.

Why do people do this? I feel like this happens to me on about one out of four or one out of five flights. And it’s super awkward.

I can sort of understand (but not condone) creepy dudes who want to make attractive passengers climb over them, or who want to climb over attractive passengers. But I don’t even have a theory to explain why people would do this to me?

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. So if you think bare feet are more dirty than apiar of shoes that never get washed your much less intelligent than I ever imagined. Most people wash their feet more often than their shoes. Who the hell knows what is on people’s shoes. I hope people wash their feet at least every couple days

  2. One time I was napping in my economy aisle seat and as I woke up my window seatmate was leaping over me to get to the aisle. He grabbed his seat and the seat in front of him and swung himself over me. Nice guy.

  3. Sure. With regard to people who just start climbing over you, many people are conflict averse, or shy, and they are simply incapable of speaking to you, so they do the ruder, but nonverbal, thing.

    As for people who won’t get up to let you in, I have no answer. A lot of people are asshats, especially on airplanes.

  4. A simple “I’d rather not have to shove my crotch in your face area…” should do the trick.

  5. In order to catch a thief, the police think like a robber. What would a robber do? A possibility is the person doesn’t want to inconvenience you and / or is shy and / or is quiet and just wants to slide by and not bother you and make you get up or move your stuff. Is trying to be very considerate of you and what you are doing.

  6. On my last flight in UA domestic F, my seatmate (in the aisle) signaled for me to climb over him.

    I did, and he promptly spilled his entire drink over his pants.

    Please note, I am a thin person and I am certain no part of my body or clothes ever touched him or his drink. I gather he instinctively jerked backward his elbow and forgot about his drink on the center console.

  7. “A simple “I’d rather not have to shove my crotch in your face area…” should do the trick.”

    Not if you’re a woman. They just take that as an invitation.

  8. When that happens, I always turn sideways in the direction to point my butt in their face and then always “lose my balance” a little bit to get it even closer.

  9. I thought that’s one reason to pay for extra legroom, so you can use it to get by the aisle passenger to get out. At least none of them offer to get up as they do in more cramped rows. Does this aversion apply everywhere or just in tighter quarters?

  10. I’ve never ever seen this happen, aside from exit rows where there is enough room to slide by easily usually.

  11. I agree!!! I have literally pushed people back to let them know that I am not too lazy to stand up and let them in. I’m shocked at how many people allow it.

  12. I kinda got burned from the reverse of this idea today. I flew in economy on American and couldn’t get a window so my wife and I got opposing aisles.

    The lady next to me had the middle, but it looked like the window was vacant, so she moved over to it. Then the guy with the window showed up. I got up and put his two heavy bags into the overhead, then got out of his way so he could swap with the woman in his seat. But he insisted he’d need to use the bathroom right after the flight took off and didn’t want to climb over anyone (he was a slightly bigger guy), and the woman who was now in the window seat didn’t speak much English, so the guy kind of lightly pressured me to take the middle seat. (It was a 1 hour flight.)

    So no good deed goes unpunished. In exchange for helping this dude with his bags, I got stuck in the middle. He then kept trying to talk to me (in spite of the fact I had earphones in and was watching TV), kept taking armrest and spilling over onto my seat, and briefly fell asleep on me. My wife also does *horribly* in turbulence, so when the plane started shaking later, I couldn’t comfort her and instead got to hear from my seat mate that “I think your wife is crying,” and gave me some helpful tips like “she just needs to breathe.”

    Fun times.

  13. I would always say its best practice to ask nicely and try to let them move out of the way. However I have had a few times when a middle seat mate was sleeping and I really had to go to the bathroom. I would also jump over them to try to not wake them up. Most of the time I succeed! 🙂

  14. We need some YouTube videos of people jumping over the aisle passenger. I’ve never witnessed this.

  15. I had this happen numerous times last month. You could tell these were inexperienced flyers but seriously? Can’t you see there is literally no room; we were in economy! I had to say every time “hang on, I’ll get up.” I was on the aisle.

    Also I love when an inexperienced flyer gets on the plane and cannot figure out where his/her seat is. It’s not that difficult. In fact, one lady, after her party moved into another row, whined, “but where is my seat?” Someone pointed out to her that it was a window seat behind them. Then the real pouting began, “I don’t want a window seat!”

    When I was a newbie flyer I did not do this stuff. So it’s not inherent in new flyers.

  16. Ain’t no way I would have given up my aisle seat for a middle. I would simply have said, “that’s ok, I’ll get up when you need to get up.” And, if he wouldn’t have moved, I’d have gone and gotten the flight attendant. Sounds more like a gambit to get the aisle seat than any bathroom issue. And, on an hour flight, he couldn’t have gotten up too often because the seat belt light isn’t off for very long.

  17. @J
    Yes, that’s the preferred method. Flight Attendants (actually they were stewardesses when I first heard the saying) call it “crop dusting.”

  18. On a long haul flight from Europe to the US, while sitting in UA steerage class, I once had a passenger sitting in back of me put his bare feet on my armrests! Needless to say, a firm elbow to remove those stinky feet worked. If not, a good use to airline cutlery could have been employed.

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