Why do people find their airline seatmates so intollerable?

In another thread, someone was pitting a jackass of a seatmate on an airline. Sure, I can understand pitting an individual, but all sorts of people came in to tell of how they absolutely refused to talk to anyone about anything aboard an airplane unless they were a highly attractive member of the opposite sex.

Now, I can understand that, naturally, in any human interaction, there will be people you like and people you don’t like. There will be people you make friends with, and people that annoy you. But why do people have such a unique dread for their airline seatmates, so much that they aren’t even willing to take a chance in meeting or talking to these people.

To me, it seems just like any other random social interaction; perhaps a chance to make friends, perhaps not, but why the hate?

Haven’t you received the handouts? Apparently everyone you don’t know is evil and not to be trusted.

Yeah I talk to people next to me in a plane, even if they might be foreigners, gasp!

Because in other human interactions, you can walk away from the annoying people, or at least step back a bit. A full plane flight MAKES you sit RIGHT NEXT to the annoying person, and TRAPS you there for HOURS. It’s best to remain silent and miss a possible friendship, rather than speak and invite hours of verbal torture.

Some people are just not that social. I don’t want to talk to the person next to me on the airplane; I want to listen to my music or read or whatever. It’s not that I hate any potential seatmate automatically, but if they attempt start a conversation I will have to be extremely rude in order to shut them down. I hate being rude. It’s even worse if I let them start talking to me, because then I have to be rude later when I just can’t take it anymore, and it’s even more awkward.

I would feel the same about any person I was forced to stay in close quarters with for long periods of time. I don’t talk to strangers if I can avoid it. Being placed in a position where I’m going to have to be mean in order to exercise my right to be a big grumpy introvert is no fun. But this really only happens to extremes on airplanes or other modes of collective transportation.

Exactly, not everyone is comfortable making conversation with strangers. If it’s a short flight, I’ll be friendly, because I know I’m not going to be stuck in an awkward, exhausting, 4-hour conversation. The longer the flight, however, the more likely I am to ignore any attempts from my seatmates to initiate conversation.

I would agree with this assessment.

I am already not too fond of being crammed into a small space for severl hours and having to breathe stale air. I like it even less when I am confined in said small space with someone I find personally objectionable (regarding either personality, or worse…personal hygeine).

I once had the incredibly unpleasant experience of spending three hours pinned to the window of a plane by a fat, smelly Jesus-freak who was so large she was physically invading my space. Said individual not only felt it appropriate to comment on how “evil and disgusting” the magazines I had chosen to entertain myself with were (“Cosmopolitan”…and something similar…I can’t remember), but she also felt it was ok to change her baby’s crap-filled diaper RIGHT THERE in the seat.

So I dunno…why would I have hated my seat mate? :dubious:

Besides the "I don’t give a fuck about a total stranger argument, there are many reasons not to like the person next to you.
For example, I’ve had to:
-spend the entire flight with the armrest up because the person next to me was so fat they couldn’t fit in their seat
-spend the entire flight sitting sideways because the guy sitting next to me was pretending to read but kept stroking his elbow up and down my breast
-clean someone else’s vomit off of myself and/or my belongings
-tell the person next to me off because they were a drunken asshole and kept punching the seat of the person in front of them
These experiences have soured me on the whole “friendly neighbor” idea when it comes to airlines. I’ll be the one in the bulky jacket with the headphones reading a book, thankyouverymuch.

I’m always afraid of either a crazy person or someone who wants to prosletyze. Put me next to someone whose (happy) baby and I can hold and I am a happy camper.

Another reason - an airline flight is one of the few times you have several uninterrupted hours to read, write, or just relax without the phone ringing, or anyone bothering you. A jerk cutting into that time is painful.

I’ve had very few problems. Being from New York, I can shut out others with the best of them. I’ve had some very nice conversations with seatmates during delays, though. I don’t mind holding babies for harried mothers. I’ve had far more problems with the jerks in front of me who want to put their seats back on my lap. :mad:

Heh, that does seem to be the attitude these days. That and everybody is a worthless idiot until proven otherwise.

This kind of attitude irritates the fuck out of me!!! Why are they a jerk? Because they want to lean back to the limit the seat allows them? The jerks are the idiots who designed the thing, not the person trying to use it. For fucks sake, you moron, just lean back a little yourself and realize that the person in front of you is in the exact same situation you are in, along with everyone else on the goddamn plane. Christ, everyone is uncomfortable, do you think you’re the only one? Argh!

Because I don’t want to be a jerk to the person behind me just because the person in front of me is being a jerk to me. In American Airlines flights, with a decent amount of space between rows, I don’t care, but 737s for a lot of airlines, like United, have little enough room as it is. Some people put their seats back a bit, which is fine, but some go whoomp. If I lean forward even a bit to use the tray table, I feel I’m breathing in their ears.

I don’t watch the movie, but I put my window shade down so people who do can see it. If I’m in the window seat I don’t grab the armrest toward the center, because the poor shlub in the middle needs all the room he can get. But screw the people who grab all the space they can.

It’s called “enforced socialization”. A stranger is inside your ‘space’, and you are required to be civil to him/her in spite of it. It’s a common situation with grizzly bears during salmon feeding.

I also think, at least for me, there is probably something on your mind if you’re flying. I might be dreading a trip to see relatives I don’t really want to see, nervous about a job interview, or unhappy because I’ve just left a wonderful weekend with my boyfriend and I don’t want to go back to Ohio. None of these situations really make me very social on an airplane.

On some trips, I’ve been helpful. If I am on a vacation trip and someone next to me wants to know some stuff about a city I’m familiar with, I’ll volunteer some info.

I’m a plane sleeper. As soon as we’ve taken off, I’m out like a light, most times.

I had a woman once ask if I was okay. Apparently I had put my head down before takeoff and not moved an inch for the two hour flight. We were landing and she was worried that I had died. :slight_smile: I get claustrophobic if I let myself think about it so passing out is the best defense.

Why don’t airplane seats recline JUST two more inches?Then you could actually sleep in them. I agree, it is the fact that you are so close to another person. If the other guy wants to talk, fine…but most of the time, the guy next to me is reading a book.
I once rode a train-what a differnece! You can actually stretch out, and you aren’t jammed in next to your neighbor!
Much nicer, tho slower way to travel!

I’m just not a social person. I don’t like making “small talk” at all, but I especially don’t like making it with a person I’m never going to see again. I don’t get why some people just can’t keep to themselves for a few hours; it’s not like you’re going to die if you don’t socialize for a little while. Meh, extroverts, what are you gonna do with them?

I don’t make a special effort to socialize with people on an airplane, just because it’s so easy to get into a situation where you’re stuck talking to someone you don’t want to talk to, for hours. (Hell, I deal with enough of that right here on campus.) But if something to talk about comes up, or if someone talks to me, or if I get a good vibe about someone, I’ll converse with them.

I usually don’t mind the conversation because I don’t enjoy flying, so any distraction is appreciated.

There are exceptions of course. Once I was extremely hung-over on a flight from London to New York. A nice older woman seated next to me tried to engage me in conversation. At first I was polite. Then I started giving terse replies. Ultimately I confessed to her that I was hung-over from an office party and opted out of any further conversation.

I was still hung-over when we landed so you can imagine how crappy I felt.

Hey, I hate mot poeple. Why should the guy next to me on an airplane be any different?

I’ve never had any problem with putting my seat back.