airport gate people silhouette
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

39 Scenarios Aboard an Airplane: What Would You Do?

Countless articles have been written here at The Gate pertaining to different behaviors and scenarios which occur aboard an airplane by fellow passengers — some of which have resulted in controversial or violent outcomes — and frequent travelers are usually all too familiar with them from which they have formed their own opinions…

39 Scenarios Aboard an Airplane: What Would You Do?

TAP Air Portugal
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…but what happens if a person who does not travel frequently is asked about the same scenarios? How would that person respond?

That article — complete with the responses and links to past articles — is currently in progress and will be posted here at The Gate — but before you see those answers and other articles, how would you respond to the following 39 scenarios which have been separated into several categories; and how do you think they should be resolved, in your opinion?

Please post your responses in the Comments section below.

Seat Recline

Seat recline
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

1. A passenger reclines his or her seat aboard an airplane. The person seated immediately behind the fellow passenger is not happy about having the seat in front reclined and encroaching upon his or her space. Perhaps that passenger was working on a laptop computer and suddenly has no room to work. If you were that passenger, what would you do?

2. The seat directly in front is reclined; but the person who was seated in it left it for an extended period of time.

3. The seat is supposed to recline; but the passenger seated directly behind it temporarily installed a device which prevents the seat from reclining.

Seat Issues — Other Than Recline

American Airlines Santiago to Miami
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

4. Two travel companions purposely book the window seat and the aisle seat in the hopes that the middle seat will remain open until departure — but a passenger arrives and is assigned the middle seat between them.

5. A person approaches a passenger and asks him or her to switch seats so that he or she may sit next to his or her travel companion.

6. A person arrives at his or her seat aboard the airplane and finds someone else is already sitting in it.

7. As a continuation of scenario number 6, the response from the seated passenger is “Do you mind if I just stay in this seat and you take my seat?”

Armrests and Window Shades

secret armrest button aisle
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

8. Three seats are in a row aboard an airplane, and only two armrests are available: one armrest is between the window seat and the middle seat; and the other armrest is between the middle seat and the aisle seat. Who gets to use which armrest?

9. A passenger decides to lift the armrest without the consent of the adjacent fellow passenger.

10. The window shade is completely open. A passenger either wants to watch a movie without glare on the screen; or perhaps the sun is shining in his or her face. That passenger asks the person who is seated in the window seat to close the window shade — either in a polite or impolite manner.

Babies and Children

Unruly child aboard airplane boy
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

11. A baby is screaming, wailing, and crying incessantly while aboard the airplane.

12. Suppose the screaming baby is in the premium class cabin during a long transoceanic flight, and fellow passengers who paid thousands of dollars expected to have a reasonable modicum of peace and quiet.

13. A child misbehaves; and the parent or parents of that child do little to nothing about disciplining the child, who may be running wild around the airplane, shouting constantly, creating a mess with food or other items — or a combination thereof.

14. A child is continuously kicking the seat behind a fellow passenger aboard an airplane — or, perhaps, a child or an adult is using the touch screen monitor on the back of the seat by tapping on it too forcefully.

Luggage, Baggage, and Other Belongings

WestJet Airlines
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

15. The overhead storage bin has a few scant items which can easily be consolidated — such as a sweater and a small bag — but they are scattered to the point at which they are taking up so much space that no extra items can be stored in it.

16. A passenger stores his or her belongings in an overhead storage bin which is nowhere near his or her seat and fills it — leaving no room for the passengers who are assigned to the seats underneath it.

17. A passenger stretches his or her legs under the seat in front — or perhaps attempts to store his or her baggage — only to find that the belongings of the passenger who is seated in front is already occupying that space.

18. Windfall! The middle seat is empty; and the boarding door has closed for departure. Who gets to use the space under the front of the empty middle seat for luggage?

19. A short and small person needs help getting heavy luggage out of the overhead storage bin and expects someone to assist.

Comfort

air conditioning overhead vents flight attendant call button
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

20. When is taking off outer footwear — such as shoes or boots — appropriate aboard an airplane; and what should happen if the footwear was removed from the feet of a passenger at an inappropriate time?

21. The passenger who is seated directly in front either wraps his hands and arms behind the seat, or her hair is draped over the back of the seat — whether or not the view of the monitor of the in-flight entertainment system is blocked, if one is available.

22. A cold passenger has the overhead air vent off; but the air blowing from the vent of an adjacent passenger only worsens the chill.

23. A passenger wants to sleep during an overnight flight, but the bright overhead light of the adjacent passenger remains illuminated.

24. The passenger seated in the aisle seat is asleep — especially during an overnight flight — and the passenger in the window seat needs to use the lavatory.

25. The person who is seated in the adjacent seat aboard the airplane sports an offensive odor — perhaps body odor, alcohol from drinking excessively, or stale cigarette smoke.

26. A passenger is so obese that his or her girth spills over into the adjacent seat, taking up to half the room of the seat of a fellow passenger.

Boarding and Leaving the Airplane

Airbus A350-900 Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

27. During the boarding process, someone hits a passenger seated in an aisle seat with a piece of his or her luggage as he or she is passing by to get to his or her seat.

28. After the airplane is safely parked at the gate after a flight, the captain indicates that passengers may safely leave their seats, gather their belongings, and exit the aircraft — but one passenger sprints from the rear of the airplane to as close to the exit door in an attempt to leave as soon as possible.

29. It is time for a specific row of passengers to leave the airplane, but the person who is sitting in the aisle seat refuses to get up, which blocks the people seated in the window seat and middle seat from egress to the aisle — and they want to leave.

30. After leaving the airplane and exiting the jet bridge, one passenger is moving very slowly; so another passenger decides to walk past him or her. The passenger who is moving slowly expresses his or her disapproval, saying that passing another passenger is rude.

Miscellaneous

American Airlines International Business Class between Bogota and Miami
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

31. A passenger has a severe allergy to a certain type of food which is served aboard the airplane and either asks fellow passengers in the immediate area to please refrain from eating that item; places a request to employees of the airline to either create a safe zone in which fellow passengers may not consume that food; or perhaps the food is not served at all to any passenger for the entire duration of the flight.

32. A pet is brought aboard the airplane; and the passenger to whom the pet belongs paid the fee for the pet to travel aboard the airplane. The pet is annoying — perhaps constantly moving around, barking, urinating, or encroaches upon the space of a fellow passenger.

33. Should passengers be allowed to engage in voice telephone calls aboard an airplane during a flight?

34. One passenger has untouched food left over from a meal which he or she will not eat. The passenger in the adjacent seat also has untouched food left over from a meal which he or she will not eat — but at least one of the passengers is still hungry.

35. People are using the front of the row as a passageway to get from one side of the airplane to the other — especially as the row has a bulkhead in front of it.

36. A passenger decides to sneak from the economy class cabin to poach a seat in the premium class cabin.

37. Two passengers are having a long — and loud — conversation with each other with boisterous laughter, which fellow passengers in the surrounding area can clearly hear.

38. Music is emanating loudly from the earbuds or headphones of a passenger who is sitting in the adjacent seat.

39. The person behind you keeps using the back of your seat by pulling on the top of it to get up.

Summary

American Airlines Santiago to Miami
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

This article was inspired from an impromptu conversation in which I engaged with a person who has had some experience of flying as a passenger aboard an airplane but is not considered a frequent flier by any stretch of the imagination; and the responses will be featured in an article which is currently in progress…

…and if you post a comment below, it may be featured in that aforementioned article.

Each of the 39 scenarios was intentionally not specific, as different circumstances may result in different responses or different outcomes. Please feel free to take the position of whoever you like in each scenario — or you can give your point of view in multiple or all aspects of each scenario, if you like.

If any controversial scenarios or behaviors from fellow passengers are missing from this article, please let me know in the Comments section below — or please contact me.

Thank you in advance for reading and posting your comments.

All photographs ©2015, ©2016, ©2017, ©2018, and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

  1. 14. A child is continuously kicking the seat behind a fellow passenger aboard an airplane — or, perhaps, a child or an adult is using the touch screen monitor on the back of the seat by tapping on it too forcefully.

    >> I look forward to the suggested answer!

    10. The window shade is completely open. A passenger either wants to watch a movie without glare on the screen; or perhaps the sun is shining in his or her face. That passenger asks the person who is seated in the window seat to close the window shade — either in a polite or impolite manner.

    >>What to do if a very militant African American woman refused to open the shades even 1/3 of the way just before landing in spite of being politely told that the reason for doing so was for safety, noting that people have died before when they could not see that the particular side of the plane was on fire after a crash landing?

    29. It is time for a specific row of passengers to leave the airplane, but the person who is sitting in the aisle seat refuses to get up, which blocks the people seated in the window seat and middle seat from egress to the aisle — and they want to leave.

    >>Never happened to me. I would attempt to climb over the seat ahead.

    24. The passenger seated in the aisle seat is asleep — especially during an overnight flight — and the passenger in the window seat needs to use the lavatory.

    >>This once happened to me aboard a business class Qantas 747 where the seats were wide and reclining but nothing like the little suites of today. I climbed over the man, stepping on firm parts of the armrest.

    20. When is taking off outer footwear — such as shoes or boots — appropriate aboard an airplane; and what should happen if the footwear was removed from the feet of a passenger at an inappropriate time?

    >>Only inappropriate time is during take off and landing. I would make a suggestion if the passenger were in a seat blocking my access to the aisle. Relatively inappropriate is to use the lavatory without shoes. I would probably say nothing but might comment that there is a high concentration of fecal material on the lavatory floor that cannot be seen from head level but can be seen with a microscope.

  2. Honestly, when I get on the plane everything I want, after watching the plane take off, close my eyes, breathe, put on the headphones and doze. Even because if the plane crashes, I hope I’m asleep and see nothing. 😛

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