Middle Seat Between a Chatty Couple: What Would You Do?

“I was in a middle seat in C+, ATL-LGA. Husband and wife arrive and take the aisle and window seats. I offer to switch with either of them so they can sit together. The response is no thanks, she likes the window and he likes the aisle.” FlyerTalk member zoo260 then continued: “They start talking to each other and passing things back and forth as if I am not there. The husband catches on and tells his wife to stop passing things to him. She does not stop at first but eventually does. Crisis averted!”

Sometimes the middle seat can be a preferred seat — but certainly not a middle seat between a chatty couple, in my opinion.

Possible Resolutions to Rudeness

I must say that I do not recall ever finding myself in a situation such as that one, as I am rarely seated in a middle seat in the first place; but I cannot imagine that a couple would refuse to sit next to each other aboard an airplane solely to avoid sitting in a middle seat — and yet talk to each other and rudely pass things back and forth to each other in front of me.

If I were seated in a middle seat between an inconsiderate couple who wanted to constantly interact with each other, I might give a silent “evil eye” glare at first; and if their rudeness continued, I would probably asserting that one of them could either swap seats with me so that they may sit next to each other and interact all they like — or they could stay where they were seated and cease with the constant interaction altogether.

While the two people who consist of a couple have a right to sit wherever they choose, I certainly would not tolerate having my seat space constantly breached and my quiet enjoyment of the flight experience consistently and needlessly interrupted. If necessary, I might involve a member of the flight crew to either sort it out; or — assuming the aircraft was not completely full — have me moved to a different seat aboard the airplane.

What would you do if you found yourself in that situation?

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

13 thoughts on “Middle Seat Between a Chatty Couple: What Would You Do?”

  1. pointster says:

    Dispatch both and hang their lifeless remains from the overhead bin as a warning to others.

    (Or just ask an FA to handle it if the couple won’t cease. You know, whatever floats your boat.)

  2. Darlene says:

    I have had a couple sit aisle and wi Dow and me I the middle. I did the same thing , offered to switch to no avail. Luckily I did not have the chatty’s. In your situation I would have asked again- are you sure you don’t want to switch, then you would t have to keep passing and talking over me. Yes maybe a little sarcastic, but I would have said it.

  3. Dan says:

    Ask for a free adult beverages from the flight attendant.

  4. Aaron K says:

    My wife and I pick the window and aisle seats all the time, partly in hopes that the middle seat will remain empty. However, if someone does end up sitting between us, we make it a point to keep to ourselves and avoid having a conversation across that person.

  5. Willy says:

    Once the tray tables go down inflight I think a discreet massaging hand on each of their respective knees and a wink or two will go a long way towards quieting things down.

    1. D says:

      That’s awesome!

  6. NB says:

    Retaliation is the key. Simply open up some media and either sing aloud or speak aloud to yourself while “working”. When they start speaking to each other, just jack the volume up.

  7. Frank Smith says:

    Fly American Eagle next time between ATL and LGA. No middle seats!

    1. gizmosdad00 says:


  8. gizmosdad00 says:

    I agree w/the idea of “fake silent flirting” with the offenders. Last year I had a very aggressive seat-mate that was invasive of my personal space. Instead of simply fuming about the injustice of it all (silently, of course), I decided to press my leg up against his, pop my shoe off and massage his ankles with my toes, etc, all without saying a word (worked on emails, in fact.) Within 5 minutes the trespasser had retreated and I had my personal space back! I don’t know how I would have reacted if he responded positively (e.g. by flirting back), but apparently I was sufficiently repulsive that he retreated to staying within the boundaries of his own seat, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the flight…

  9. James says:

    I would “accidently” bump one of their hands as they pass things to each other so they drop whatever it is they’re passing. Do it in a way that is just subtle enough that it could pass for an accident, but not so subtle that they’ll think about doing it again.

    1. Alex says:

      what if it’s liquid and they will proceed to drop it on you?

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