Altitude adjustments

The flight attendants will show you how to buckle a seat belt, even point you to the nearest exit in case of an emergency. Unfortunately, however, there’s no in-flight guide to keeping the peace with fellow passengers. Here, Caroline Tiger, a co-author of “How to Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged,” tells you how.

Problem: The child behind you is kicking your seat.

Solution: “Appeal to the parents’ sense of empathy,” Tiger says. “Say, ‘Do you mind asking him to stop kicking my seat? I’d like to take a nap.” If the child doesn’t stop shortly after your initial plea, kindly ask the adult if he or she would be willing to switch seats with the child.

Problem: You have to go to the bathroom, but your sleeping neighbor is blocking the way.

Solution: It may be tempting to climb over a fellow passenger while he or she is sleeping, but you risk awkwardly straddling the individual if he or she wakes up. Instead, give your seat neighbor a gentle pat and say, “Excuse me.”

Problem: You want to enjoy a little peace and quiet; your neighbor wants to trade life stories.


Solution: Grab a book or a magazine, and he or she should get the hint. If the person continues talking, say, “I’m sorry; I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d really like to read this now,” Tiger says. Another strong hint: Headphones.

Problem: You and your neighbor are jockeying for the center armrest.

Solution: The armrest should go back and forth between you and your seatmate, Tiger says. If you feel it is being hogged, stake your claim while your neighbor is using the bathroom and hold your position when he or she returns.