The Annoying Seatmate (Trip Report)

There are only so many times I can fly between Long Beach and Phoenix and actually keep you interested, so I realize I need to shake it up. I’m in Phoenix for Honeywell’s media day right now, so I haven’t had time to finish a couple of more in-depth posts that I’m working on. Instead, let’s talk about my obnoxious seatmate.

[Disclosure: This trip was paid for by Honeywell.]

I flew US Airways out of Long Beach, of course. You’ve seen enough LGB photos looking out on the ramp here, but what about this view of the historic main terminal looking back from the concourse? I love this airport.

Long Beach Airport Terminal

As usual, I left home an hour before departure, sailed through security, and had time to kill at the gate. I was amazed how quickly they turned the airplane around, and we were boarding almost immediately. I stayed back and boarded toward the end. That’s when things got weird.


May 20, 2014
US Airways Express 2824 Lv Long Beach 435p Arr Phoenix 553p (operated by Mesa)
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Depart 3m Early
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B19, Runway 25L, Arrive 1m Early
N914FJ, Bombardier CRJ-900, Standard US Airways colors, ~80% Full
Seat 8A, Coach
Flight Time 58m

I got on the airplane and two flight attendants were standing in the forward galley gabbing with each other, completely ignoring the boarding passengers. One of them was busy talking about how she shops at Macy’s online, but she can’t follow what fashion is in and what’s out. She started talking about bell bottoms, and one of the guys boarding behind me said somewhat sarcastically, “So are those in or out?” She then proceeded to tell him that they’re out now, but some other stuff was in.

I got back to my seat and someone was sitting in it. I looked at him and said with a faint smile, “I believe that’s my seat.” He said, “Yeah it is, but do you mind if I keep my bag here?” I looked down and saw a large bag taking up the entire floor area. “Yeah, I do mind,” I said, “because I need a place for my computer bag.” (I didn’t say it, but I really didn’t want it blocking my legs.) I asked why he didn’t just put it in the overhead bin. He said it wouldn’t fit.

After that, he started looking around for a place to put it. (Apparently, in the belly of the aircraft wasn’t an option.) There was an empty row a couple rows back, so he shoved it under there.

We pushed back and started taxiing when the flight attendants finally came through the cabin. The Macy’s-lover belted out, “whose bag is this?” My seatmate said it was his, and she said it couldn’t stay there because it didn’t fit underneath. He then got up (remember, we are moving down the taxiway) to get his bag, and she immediately told him to park it. So he did.

The flight attendant was now in a tough position, because she had to find a place for this big bag. So what did she do? She took the bag and strapped it in with a seatbelt in an empty window seat. Problem solved, and my seatmate was happy. I pulled out my phone and started reading, but that didn’t deter him.

“How long is this flight?”
“About an hour.”
“Wow, that’s fast. Does this airplane go really fast?”
“It’s not really any faster than other jets.”

We took off and then banked around Long Beach as usual on what was a beautiful day. He, not being from Southern California, was really excited about the view out the window. He looked over me and decided to take a photo. No problem; I can understand the enthusiasm. Then he decided to ask me to take a photo for him. I did, he looked at it, decided it was blurry, and asked me to take another one. This happened at multiple points during the flight. I probably took 10 photos.

I was still trying to read on my phone but he didn’t take the hint. I learned all kinds of things about him, his job as an accountant, his dating life. Oh it was just delightful. Then I learned that Marc Anthony earns $1.25 million a month. (I have no idea if that’s true or false, or why he felt compelled to tell me that, but I did find it strange that he had to use the calculator on his phone to figure out what that was annually. Remember, he’s an accountant.)

At this point, he asked what I did and started trying to surf the web on his phone. I told him he wasn’t allowed to use his mobile connection in flight, and he looked at me as if this was the most shocking news ever. He turned it in airplane mode.

By this point, were were just about over Arizona, and I was ready to jump out the window. Everything I did elicited a comment. When the flight attendant came by with drinks, I ordered a water.

“You don’t drink soda?”

There was no escape. Shortly after, the flight attendant ran over his foot with the cart. She grumbled, “I keep running over your foot… because you keep leaving it in the aisle.” That just prompted him to take on a different topic, but it certainly didn’t quiet him.

We began descending into Phoenix, and I was ecstatic. Somewhere near final approach, he exclaimed, “there, it finally works again!” He had turned off airplane mode and was surfing the web via his mobile network. He only took a break to ask me to take another picture for him.

Near landing, he asked me for my card, but I really didn’t want to give it to him. I told him my cards were in my bag up in the bin, so I couldn’t get it until later. (The seatbelt sign never went off despite the flight being smooth.) We landed and I couldn’t have been happier to get off that airplane. He had forgotten about the card, and seemingly got distracted when, as we walked out of the jet bridge, he saw a woman bending over repacking her clothes.

I took that as my cue, and I hit the road.

This can’t be the worst seatmate story out there (it was only an hour flight after all). Let’s hear yours.

Update: The return was uneventful, so I won’t be writing that one up. Instead, I’ll just put my details here.


May 20, 2014
US Airways 566 Lv Phoenix 1015a Arr Long Beach 1137a
Phoenix (PHX): Gate A7, Runway 7L, Depart 1m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 3m Early
N830AW, Airbus A319-132, Standard US Airways colors, ~99% Full
Seat 13F, Coach
Flight Time 59m

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58 Comments on "The Annoying Seatmate (Trip Report)"

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Neil S.
Guest

Why don’t you drink soda?!? Are you anti-fizz?

I’ve found a few ways to avoid this kind of thing:

1. Put headphones on as soon as I as I sit and am belted in. Wear them all flight long, even if not listening to music or watching iPad.

2. If the headphones don’t work, I have been known to say: “Sorry. I don’t really talk on airplanes.” Yes, a partially dick move, but it works. And I’d rather be a bit rude to someone to enjoy my flight vs. listening to the kind of babble you just described.

Todd
Guest

I’ve also found that earbuds almost always work well at deterring unwanted conversation.

eytan
Member

I usually put my earphones on when I’m on the Jetway, so I’m all ready :)

Xnuiem
Member
Oh Southwest…. You think you want that seat next to my 6’5″ 225lb frame? Muwahwhahaha…. First, you will have to get through challenges: a) My complete apathy to your existence b) Armrests are not for you when I can’t help the fact my shoulders are significantly wider than 17 inches c) Sudden, uncontrollable coughing and/or sneezing and nose blowing. I probably have something very serious d) I will not move my stuff in that seat unless you actually ask e) I will then glare at you, open up some cuttlefish sandwich bites, and proceed to douse it in Sriracha f)… Read more »
AndTheHorseYouRodeUpOn
Guest
AndTheHorseYouRodeUpOn

?

Nick Barnard
Member

Xnuiem, are you describing how you’re the annoying seatmate?

Xnuiem
Member

I am describing how to prevent me from becoming the annoying seat-mate. ;)

TR
Guest

So, you are just a dick?

Ted
Guest
Please…that’s nothing compared to my seatmate on a TZ HOU-LGA flight several years ago. First, being TZ, the flight was delayed by a couple of hours, which already put me in a bad mood making my planned 18 hour day closer to 21. But then I get on board and find my aisle seat and find a mid-40s blonde in the window position. She is wearing a too-small cami and short cut off jean shorts. Her hair is disheveled, she smells like a mixture of alcohol and sweat, and she is crying. I really didn’t want to say anything to… Read more »
Leslie
Guest
I’m always behind the Full Stretch Recliner. Seats should not be able to recline – not enough room. It’s really inconsiderate to recline your sear on an airplane. When not behind the in-your-lap recliner “hope you didn’t want to read a book, have a drink or use your tray for anything like work” person, I’m next to the “fall asleep on your shoulder and drool” person. Occasionally I’m next to “I have a visible foot fungus so I’m just going to take these shoes off for 6 hours so you can smell my agony” person. I tend to pay a… Read more »
Leslie
Guest

Oh! A favorite flight was on Southwest – couple going through a divorce chose to sit with me in the middle, then proceeded to lean over me on a 100% full flight and scream at each other for the entire journey. That was stressful.

haolenate
Guest
I just flew Phoenix – Kona on USAirways in Row 1 and didn’t recline my seat for the shear FACT of knowing how tight it can be for the person behind me… plus, is 2″ of recline REALLY going to make it a shorter 6 hour flight? I’ve also noticed that many of my fellow MVP/MVP Gold seatmates in First Class on Alaska also don’t recline much. I noticed this on a growing number of flights, especially those in which people are working. I even went as far as to give the person in front of me a goodie bag… Read more »
Mallthus
Member

I was in First on a Delta flight a few weeks back and when the person in front of me reclined, the seat went back so far as to give me a great view of his scalp. I think it was broken, as it was ridiculously far into my space, especially for First Class.

Frank of America
Guest
A few years back flying LHR-LAX on NZ in premium economy (which is pretty darn good BTW) in a window seat. The middle aged gentleman in the aisle next to me must have eaten something particularly rank and disagreeable to his alimentary canal the night before because he was passing gas about every 15 minutes the entire flight. Valiant efforts to divert the noxious stream coming from his direction were to no avail. I turned up the air nozzle to full blast and pointed towards the aisle, used the safety card as a fan covered my face with the blanket…… Read more »
Eric
Guest
I had a very distant relative with the same uncommon last name get upgraded to first because the gate agent thought we were traveling together. My new 7th cousin regaled me with stories about relatives I’ve never met (and never will). Fortunately, it was only a 2 hour flight. I’ve endured the extra girth seatmate a few times. The first time, on American, I took my book and went to the galley. This was Before the World Got Stupid™ and the FAs let me use the aft jump seat until we began the descent. A few years ago, it happened… Read more »
David SF eastbay
Member

If you annoying seatmate was an accountant, you should have asked him to figure out how much money you will need to save each year to put two kids through college given their current ages. That should have kept him busy for the flight to PHX…..lol

Yo
Guest
I was on a PHX-HNL flight on ATA (I miss them!). I’m in an aisle seat, and there is a strange woman in the aisle seat across from me. She evidently won the trip as a prize, had no hotel, was going to look for a place at the airport. She grabbed the male FA by his butt, he didn’t like that. Later, I fell into a nice relaxing sleep, only to be shaken awake by her, saying “you were asleep with your mouth open!” I gave her the glare from hell, and firmly told her to never touch me… Read more »
Henry Harteveldt
Member

If a seatmate is annoyingly chatty, I tell them that I’m a nervous flier, and that I need to stay quiet to avoid becoming physically unwell. That usually shuts them up. If I’m really lucky, I end up with an empty seat next to me.

Cooper
Guest
I will never forget my first nonrev trip to PIT. I sat in my window seat and noticed a 4 year old girl in the middle seated next to a businessman type in the aisle. The businessman was very obviously not her father. I looked around for her parents or an FA to rectify things and heard a voice from the seat behind me calmly say “oh that’s my daughter.” I turned and offered my window for the mother’s middle and mom straight up refused to do so. Since i was “representing the company” by traveling on my privileges, I… Read more »
WL
Guest

I can’t top your story but I have learned to always take a pair of ear buds along just for such times.
Just stuff the plug ins in your pocket and read or work in silence. (Of course if the do-do asks
what you’re listening to, you may have to improvise).

Ryan
Guest

A court ordered book on anger management, stemming from an issue in which people didn’t leave me alone when flying on airplanes?

malbarda
Member
Not me, but my wife: traveling to Cairo via Paris to join me there she had a very drunk seat-mate in business who told her he was in the oil business. He wore cowboy boots and matching hat. After take-off he proceeded to continue to drink through the dinner service. When everybody went to sleep, he turned on his headset, tuned into a channel that played Elvis’ greatest hits on a loop, which he proceeded to sing along to. Loudly. Eventually, after my wife’s and an FA’s urging, he went to sleep… I one flew on a plane from Shanghai… Read more »
bdbd
Guest

Brett, over at your seatmate’s blog (annoyingflier.com) I bet he’s going on and on about what a nice guy he sat next to.

Dick Carlson
Guest

When I bought my first pair of Bose “Noise Cancelling” headphones, I thought it was because they would cancel the noise of jet engines. Little did I know that the main function was to cancel the noise of talkative seat mates. I slip those little wonders on at the start of each flight, run the cord down inside my jacket (don’t even bother with an i-Pod any longer) and just give people a questioning look if they try to talk to me. Works like a charm.

TR
Guest

My ear buds are in before non-frequent fliers get to board!

Michael
Guest
Two stories for you, both recent! You remember how they shut down air traffic control over LAX a few weeks ago? Yeah, I was stuck on a Southwest flight on the tarmac for almost three hours. For two hours of the delay, the woman next to me decided it would be an opportune time to file her nails. FOR TWO HOURS. For the second story, let’s turn to my return from India yesterday, via Frankfurt. Lufthansa upgraded me to business class during the BOM to FRA segment, which was wonderful. About halfway through the flight, however, the very elderly couple… Read more »
Michele McDonald
Guest
British Airways, LHR-KUL, 1995, on my way to the IATA AGM. Was in business class. When the seatbelt light went off, a guy sat down in the empty seat next to me. I don’t know where he came from. But I soon discerned that it was probably the nearest sewer. The guy reeked. I’m talking seriously bad odor like you would not believe. Like maybe he never took a bath in his life. Like nothing I have smelled before or since. He smelled, OK? I called the purser over and said, “Just lean down a bit and take a whiff.”… Read more »
Reese325
Member
I was flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to Atlanta, which was a 22 hour flight. I was in coach in a middle seat, between two men who kicked and elbowed me the entire flight. The one on the aisle side was my dad, and the window seat guy was an extremely irritating jerk who kept telling me he really wanted the aisle seat instead of the window seat, and wanted me to convince my dad to change seats with him. My dad had already told him (in no uncertain terms) before the flight took off that he wasn’t going to… Read more »
Guido
Guest

But why was your dad kicking and elbowing you too?

jyarmis
Member
UA LGA-ORD: The woman seated next to me in 1st started chatting with me innocently enough. However, about every third answer I’d give, she’d go “I have to remember this.” She’d then put her face in her hands, turn towards the window and concentrate for 10 seconds. She’d then turn back to me and go “let me see if I got this right.” Inevitably she didn’t. I’d correct her, and she’d repeat the window concentration thing. After probably 10 minutes of this, the flight attendant came over to me and said “didn’t you say you had some work you had… Read more »
syeo.engr
Member

Better make sure your concierges don’t seat me next to some of your other clients, Cranky – I watch Fox News AND I LOVE Chinese food! (Maybe because I am half Chinese?) I did not realize they were such reliable indicators for Annoying Seatmates ;-D

haolenate
Guest

thankfully we (concierges) don’t do much with your seats, that’s the uber special planners :P

VDC
Guest

Why didn’t you trade seats with his empty bag?

VDC
Guest

I meant his big bag. need an edit button

Jason Steele
Guest

Attendee of some herbal supplement/miracle cure/multi level marketing convention trying to pitch me her scam the whole way. I tried every trick in the book to tune her out, but she still found a way to remind me several times “its patented!”

Glen Towler
Guest
I don’t have anyone on a aircraft that bad but once on a train this guy just wouldn’t shut up talking about trains how he was a train spotter and knew all about trains and the crews etc. I then opened my aircraft magazine tried to read it but failed as he then went on about what he knew about aircraft. Then the he went on about his job driving camper vans to Auckland the whole thing went on for a hour and half. The most awful 90 mins I have ever spent on a train . As I went… Read more »
Jim
Guest

Did you, at any point, tell him to stop bothering you?

Some people, especially males, don’t take indirect hints. You have to be clear and direct. A firm but polite “don’t bother me” works wonders.

Harold
Guest
(1) ear buds (2) I have told people I’m on my way to my brother’s memorial service so I’m not really in the mood to talk. It’s a mean-spirited, crappy lie, but boy, it works. (3) On a Southwest flight from ABQ to BWI, I was in the back row window seat; the middle seat was empty; I was so excited about a good flight with an empty seat. Then, right before the door closed, a very large woman sat next to me, and without asking, she raised the armrest. I don’t want to be a jerk but she really… Read more »
matt weber
Member
I have had a couple of really bad experiences, both in the F cabin on British Airways. One night in the late 1980’s I flew LAX-LHR, and most of the F cabin was Phil Collins and his entourage. I was unlucky enough to end up with the seat next to the Nanny, who was looking after Phil Collins’s infant. The kid screamed most of the way to London. As the pursed politely commented, not the experience I was paying for. The other incident was in the early 1990’s, also on BA in the F cabin from LAX-LHR. The lady sitting… Read more »
Denny Chen
Guest

Sounds like you had your very own Planes, Trains & Automobiles experience ;)

I’ve never had the luxury of an annoying seatmate. However I did see some guy get kicked off a plane for refusing to stop talking on their cell phone during take off. That transition from pure obstinate behavior to begging, once the plane started taxing back to the gate, was quite amusing

LT_DT
Guest
LA to Sydney – I had a seatmate who had been denied the earlier departure because she was too drunk to fly. I had the aisle and she got up every hour to use the restroom. Every thirty minutes, she’d wake me up to show me an interesting ad in one of her fashion magazines. Neither headphones nor sleeping deterred her. But, the absolute worst part of the experience was when she woke me up, yelled for a flight attendant to find her some vegemite, then forced me to try it straight out of the jar. Now, when I don’t… Read more »
Pilotaaron1
Guest
My worst was definitely US from MSP-LAS. Southwest may have its faults but I love the sober up before you board rule. Because on this flight 3 girls on the row behind got the party started a little early. It started with singing leaving on a jet plane of takeoff and talking about that they were so excited to be going to Vegas that their “lady parts” were twitching with excitement. And they kept up their loud “earbuds with the ipod volume at max couldn’t do it talking the whole 3 hour flight. Until 15 minutes before we land a… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I thought it was a Federal Safety Regulation that passengers couldn’t board while drunk, and all airlines had to enforce that rule. (e.g. You must be sober enough to be able to get yourself off the plane in an accident.) Perhaps WN just enforces it more strongly?

Are there any FAs, Gate Agents or other folks who know more?

Pilotaaron1
Guest

I would imagine it is. But these ladies were smashed.

smkarizona
Member
STORY 1: On a flight from Traverse City MI to Detroit in a smaller plane (wasn’t as interested then in model). There was a woman (won’t call her a lady) who first wouldn’t turn off her cell, then actually lit up her cigarette during the flight and bent over to smoke it. We were all pointing fingers and trying to let the FA know what was up, but it seemed to take quite a while for her to catch on. In the interim, stupid lady was laughing and poking her teenage daughter and making fun of the FA, who couldn’t… Read more »
Al
Guest
I sat next to a drunk, stanky, smelly, sleepy and obnoxious Norwegian Drunk Guy from Munich to Los Angeles on Lufthansa for 12 hours. 12 agonizing hours of drunken terror. The guy was sleeping and yelling in his dreams like he was Chewbaca. Those YYYAARRRRRGGGGG!!! screams is an imprint on my mind for all time since April 2009 and in this full flight, everyone didn’t like the guy. He reeked the plane of urine by the drips of his pants. The flight attendants were nice, but they’d get points if they, like, kick him out of the plane. At the… Read more »
Dino
Guest
I recently took a trip on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from Portland to Los Angles with my wife for our honeymoon. We were in sleeper cabins and every afternoon around 2pm, the Coast Starlight has a wine and cheese meet n’ greet for sleeping car passengers only (I’ve heard Amtrak has recently done away with this nice small touch for budgetary reasons). Anyway, it’s a dreary, rainy Oregon afternoon outside so there’s not much to look at out the windows on what is normally phenomenal scenery. Our train is stopped somewhere around Eugene because some hobo/meth tweaker got hit by a… Read more »
hawes.daryl
Member
Try being seated next to Tiny Tim on two different international flights. One in 1976 and the other in 1983, both in first class on Pan Am. The first was on a Pan Am 707 multi-stopper, before the days of nonstop service, that went from LAX to HNL then to Pago Pago (or was in Nadi, Fiji?) then to AKL before landing in SYD about 30+ hours later. (All upright sets back then, no sleeper seats) and the second up top on a 14.5 hour nonstop 747SP trip. Both times, he was spooky and was nothing like his persona on… Read more »
Jim M
Guest

$1.25 million a month and flies coach? And he is an accountant? Couldn’t spring for first class?

Must be one hell of an accountant. . . .perhaps I am in the wrong profession. . . . . .

Michael
Guest
So I dint have a bad seat mate but I had a bad one behind me one. We boarded a Delta 767-400 red-eye flight from HNL-LAX. We were seated at the 2nd boarding door. I had my bag in the over head as the flight attendant asked to see my ticket cause normally we are boarded last. I took my bag down and the woman behind started to throw her bag in there. I quickly threw mine bag back in so she got pissed and shoved her bag in squishing mine and heard her complaining for about 30 mins into… Read more »
Mike
Guest
FRA/MUN was seated next to a somoan lady that was breast feeding her infant, and as it seems to go, the baby ( large baby) barfed on my clean shirt, in Munich airport I managed to grab a shower and put on my spare shirt. MUN/ANK flight guess who was seated next to me? my spare shirt got another dose of curdled breast milk. Only positive part was going through customs search in Ankara, first item they opened was my brief case with the (by now ripe) shirt in it. customs agent slammed the case and passed me on my… Read more »
James
Guest
Both on AA ORD-HNL DC-10s in the mid/late 1980’s, going home from college. Incident 1: Person of size in window, me in aisle. I finish what I’m going to eat from in-flight meal. Seatmate points to my dessert with his fork and asks, “you gonna eat that?” No dude, it’s all yours. Incident 2: Not really seatmate from hell, but ODD dude in window (I’m in aisle again). For entire 9-1/2 hour flight, he didn’t eat or drink anything, talk to anyone, watch movie, read, sleep, look out window, or get up AT ALL. Just sat there, staring off into… Read more »
Susan
Guest
My annoying seat mate story starts off in PHL going to DEN then on to LAX. I had been at a family wedding where i had fallen and torn ligaments in my ankle..i was the cranky flyer! What made the trip worse was the man sitting in the seat in front of mine talked the entire trip to Denver about sex! I was with my then 13 year old daughter who kept looking at me like what is he talking about and my Korena War Veteran Uncle who was seated on the aisle seat across from Sex talk Sam. I… Read more »
Travelnfool
Guest
So on a short flight (thank goodness) from ATL-DAY for my sisters college graduation I ended up sitting next to Nascar Man. And by that I mean the dude was decked out head to toe in Nascar gear and did not shut up the entire flight about all the races he’d been too and who his favorite driver was and that he was headed to some race that weekend. I could not care two hoots about Nascar and because I had to leave work early for the flight I was trying to get some stuff done. On top of that… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Reminds me of an IAD-DAY flight I had. (Worst terminal ever.. basically on both sides. IAD because its temporary and 20 years old, and DAY because geez, couldn’t you make some wider windows? That being said the DAY family restroom was good for freshening up.)

We were on a CRJ200, and I was in a window seat with a guy next to me.. Across the aisle there were two empty seats. After I was done eating, I rang the flight attendant call button and asked her if I could change seats — Nice way to give myself cover.)

Joe L
Guest

AF flight from CDG to LAX. Coach center section, 3 year old boy plops down next to a middle aged woman with a look of absolute horror on her face. Expression changes to anger, followed by a hopeful search for escape, then sad resignation as push back started.

We arrive in LAX and the woman hands the 3 year old boy some candy and tells my wife what an absolute pleasure it was to sit next to our son.

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