Dear Annie: When did airplane seats become so small? I hadn’t flown in six years until this past spring, when I booked a flight to attend a family wedding. I reserved a window seat so that I could relax in comfort. But the experience was anything but comfortable.
For starters, the man next to me in the middle seat must have been 6’2″ tall and weighed at least 250 pounds, and he could not possibly sit in the middle seat without taking up room from the window and aisle seats. We almost had to pull up the middle seat armrests so that he could sit down. The whole time, I kept trying not to touch his body, but his girth was such that some contact was unavoidable.
I used to fly a lot for business in the ’80s, and I don’t ever remember such uncomfortable seats, or such an unpleasant experience. I never want to fly again!
I felt sorry for this large man. He was very nice and embarrassed about the whole situation. It had to be extremely uncomfortable for him to squeeze his body between those armrests. As bad as it was for me and for the woman in the aisle seat on his other side, this guy had it worse. He should never have been booked into such a ridiculously narrow seat with virtually no legroom. His knees were pressed against the seat in front of him the entire time. Why don’t airlines have size limitations for middle seat passengers? — Recovering from an Unbearable Flight
Dear Recovering: You are not alone in wondering what airlines are thinking by reducing the width of their seats and the amount of legroom. They create a great deal of resentment of their brand. In theory, many have policies stating that obese people should buy two tickets so they can spread out, but since more than a third of Americans are called “obese,” they don’t insist on this policy. Air Canada says that obesity can be a disability and, with a doctor’s note, will grant the obese passenger two seats for the price of one. Air France offers a 25 percent discount on the second seat for an obese person and will refund the balance of the fare if the flight has empty seats.
Politicians have passed various versions of a “Bill of Rights” for airline passengers, but having airplane seats like the old days — with plenty of width and legroom — are not considered essential.
However, I agree with you, and I would encourage you to write a letter of complaint to the airline you used. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com
Welcome to air travel!
I’m wondering about a few things. First of all, why didn’t the large man (let’s call him Fred) request an aisle seat when he booked his flight? It seems like it’s every individual’s responsibility to choose the proper seat for themselves.
I love window seats. Seeing outside is a real thrill for me. Of course, it loses its novelty about fifteen minutes into the flight, but still.
I’m also wondering why Fred and the woman in the aisle seat didn’t switch places. Is that frowned upon due to security issues? I honestly don’t know.
Hmm…. brainstorming for tips…. When I traveled to Prague last year, I took a jacket with me. While on the flights, if I needed to, I was able to pull the hoodie over my head and disappear. It made me feel less polluted by the energy of whoever was sitting next to me.
I think this is one of those things you just have to suck up and tolerate. Aside from choosing the seat you want and hoping for the best, what can you do? At least Fred didn’t bring a certified comfort crocodile along. Nor did he change a baby’s diaper in the aisle. Yes, letter writer, it could’ve been so much worse. I think this calls for an image from that classic film, Snakes on a Plane.
That always makes me laugh. Best premise for a movie, ever.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My boyfriend of a few months seems to like going on vacations with his ex and their teenage son. It really bothers me. The first time he justified it by saying it was booked before they split up and the son really wanted both to go. He said it wasn’t going to happen again.
Now he’s talking about a vacation he says his ex and son want to take together, and he admits that if I weren’t around, he would go because he thinks it’s a good idea for his son. I think he’s trying to talk me into letting him go, even though he denies it.
Complicating all this is that he still hasn’t filed for divorce, despite promising to do so for months, nor has he told his son they’re getting a divorce (he thinks it’s a separation). Obviously I haven’t met the son, nor will I anytime soon.
While I don’t really believe my BF will get back together with his ex, it feels wrong to me. Assuming the divorce does get filed before the trip, do I really have any right to say no? I want the best for his son, but there are so many other ways to have a fun vacation that don’t require the ex to be there. I’m sympathetic to the idea that BF may still want the stability of being with his family the way he used to, but I feel like he’s going to have to adjust to a new normal, too. But I’m trying not to be selfish.
Also, I’ve actually known him for years, so I trust him and want to make it work more than I might some brand-new person. I think he cares a lot about me, but I also know he has serious issues with boundaries with his ex — she gets what she wants from him even though her long-term affair is the reason they split.
She knows about me and apparently completely freaked out at the idea of him moving on. I’m stuck — do I (sadly) cut ties, or do I learn to live with something I feel isn’t right for me?
— Really Bothered
Oh goodness no. This alone — “do I learn to live with something I feel isn’t right for me” — zips you through the “noooo” express lane.
But since you took the time to type out all the other stuff:
You don’t have a small, iffy-vacation problem, you have a big, still-way-too-enmeshed-with-the-ex/not-ex problem.
So please tell this lovely man you care for him and hope to be with him someday, but cannot while so much unfinished business remains from his marriage. When he’s divorced, when he’s telling his son the truth, when he’s honest with himself about the dynamic and his struggle with boundaries, when he’s owning his choices instead of hiding behind “a good idea for his son” rationales, when he’s able to be with you in the full light of day, then he should absolutely give you a call.
Painful, yes, but not nearly so painful as where you’re headed. Proceeding on this road is the dating equivalent of getting out of your car, moving the “road closed” sawhorse to the side, and continuing on your drive. Not recommended. (c) Carolyn Hax
I completely agree, and I’m appalled that the letter writer got herself into this situation to begin with. This was the part of her letter where I literally facepalmed:
Complicating all this is that he still hasn’t filed for divorce.
Of course he hasn’t. So, we’re dating him why?
The relationship never should’ve started. And the poor letter writer is probably thinking, “But if I break up with him, some other lucky woman will snatch him up. This is my only chance to make a move!” Groan. It’s patently unwise to get involved with a man who recently separated from his wife. There are red flags all over the place indicating that he’s still attached to his marriage, and who wouldn’t be? You can’t undo a marriage in one fell swoop.
And here we have a false virtue:
I’m trying not to be selfish.
This is a false virtue because, for one thing, the letter writer is being “selfless” over the vacation issue in order to impress her boyfriend and convince him that she’s the woman for him. In doing so, she’s compromising her personal integrity. (I’m not trying to sound judgmental. I wrestle with the same issue.)
Further, it’s not selfish to insist that someone have better boundaries with their ex. I’m just saying, though, she’s the freshest, most recent ex I’ve ever read about. It still feels as if they broke up an hour ago. Oh my gosh. The letter writer’s boyfriend might be rebounding with her. That makes everything so much worse!
I know she likes it that he cares about her, and they have a history of friendship, and all that. But this guy’s actions don’t scream of caring. He’s being insensitive to his wife, because it’s poor form to separate and then rush into a new relationship. He’s being insensitive to his son, who doesn’t know the letter writer even exists. And he’s asking the letter writer to twist her life into knots so that secrets are kept and the status quo isn’t disturbed. What a user!
I don’t know why women get into relationships in which they feel they have to be patient and accepting of crap. It happens to me all the time, and I wish it didn’t. Why is it so hard to say, “Look, buddy, I deserve to be more than your rebound relationship. Now, go get your life in order and then come and find me, assuming I’m still single,”? I don’t know. Women often have an innate belief that they should please men by going along with whatever level of crap the man has stooped into.
And this guy is really stooping. If I were this letter writer, I’d have a little bit of fun with him before dumping him. “Guess what? I’ve decided to come along on the vacation with your wife and son. It’ll be fun! Your son can meet me, and your wife can get it through her thick head that she’s out and I’m in.” Actually, that should kill two birds with one stone. It’ll terrify this louse, and then their relationship will die in comic fashion.