The problem: Wondering what I should do the next time this happens. I was flying recently and the woman who sat down next to me was quite large. She ended up taking over part of my seat. Should I have said something to the flight attendant?

Low road: Sure. Push that call button and, when the flight attendant comes over, ask if one of you can please be reseated because … “Well, look!”

High road: This approach will likely lead to the longest flight of your life. I’m guessing that your seatmate is well aware of her size because our culture reminds her of it, oh, at least two dozen times a day.

Still, I empathize with your dilemma. You were hoping to relax and zone out on your overpriced flight and now you feel cramped and annoyed and can’t concentrate on anything but your discomfort.

You could quietly go to the back of the plane and ask the flight attendant if she might reseat you. But I can guarantee that she’ll apologetically shake her head and tell you that this flight is full (surprise!). She might, though, offer you some of those really yummy ginger cookies. So there you are.

At 30,000 feet, I urge you to see the bigger picture. You get to fly places. Your biggest concern is feeling cramped for a few hours. Be kind to your seatmate.

Politely tell her that you’d like to put down the armrest. She’ll most likely adjust the best she can to help you do that. Ask her where she’s going. In other words, see a person there. Then, if you need to Zen out, put in your earplugs, listen to your music and visualize wide-open spaces.


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