Flight etiquette: travel experts tell who gets the armrest?

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The armrest. There have been tales told throughout the years of bitter battles fought over who has the right to rest their arms on that plastic peninsula between seats. I was always vying for armrest supremacy at the cinema but, as going to the movies hasn’t been so popular in the last decade, my armrest wars have all but ceased to exist.

But as happens when travelling and you’re flying economy class, space comes at a premium. Well, we thought we’d do a bit of research to answer the age-old question: who gets the armrest? 

First scenario: the two-seat configuration. Popular opinion seems to be that whoever gets there first gets the armrests. If you both arrive at the same time it’s an ‘armrest faceoff’ – in other words, you fight it out between you. If the other guy is bigger, he gets the armrest. But really, you both have the option of leaning the other way, so at least there’s that.

Oh, and I should mention that if you leave your seat, you forfeit the armrest. Sound fair?

Second scenario: you’re sitting in the middle seat between two passengers.

According to one veteran flight attendant, the person in the aisle seat gets the armrest on the aisle side, the window-seat passenger gets the window to lean on and the middle-seat passenger gets both middle armrests to make up for the fact that they’ve been stuffed in between two passengers.

And she’s not the only one who follows this credo. Frequent flyers, airline CEOs and ethics professors all agree that the middle-seat passenger should have the rights to both middle armrests.

So, the next time you fly and someone is squatting on your armrest, tell them that, according to www.expertflyer.com: window seat gets the view; aisle seat gets the access; middle seat gets the armrest.

Phew… I’m glad that’s settled.

Who do you think gets the armrest? Have you any funny armrest war stories?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



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