An Independent HelmsBriscoe Associate | 636-678-7661 |

Jill Stone

Your Meeting Matchmaker Fairy Godmother

Airplane Armrest Etiquette

in: Meeting Planning Experience Travel and Hospitality

First, let’s just put it out there – there is an innate flaw in the airplane armrest system; three seats and two armrests, it just doesn’t add up. When I sit down in a restaurant I am well aware that the glass to my right is my glass and the fork to my left is my fork. When I sit down in an airplane the armrest is a toss-up. Is there such a thing as Armrest Etiquette?

We know to say excuse me when we are trying to crawl into our window seat space, or we need to temporarily use the airplane tray of another as we yoga pose our way into grabbing something from our carry on. But what are the rules when it comes to the armrest?

A friend of mine was sharing with me how during her days of travel, she noticed that a high percentage of men simply assumed that a small gal such as herself must surely have no need for the armrest. She shares, “They would lay claim to it as soon as they sat down. These same men will be courteous in every other manner, but there is an unspoken rule that the armrests are for boys.” She mentioned this to her husband and when he later began to travel with his job he told her that he was always very mindful of the armrest; he made it a point to not lay claim, but to share or to even offer it to the person who sat next to him on the plane (good guy).

To help you sort through this armrest conundrum, I have gathered some information for your consideration:

  • Check out veteran traveler Peter Greenberg’s thoughts on the matter
  • A flight attendant on this Interactive Graphic feels that both armrests should belong to the middle seat passenger as a consolation prize
  • Here is a good list of overall airplane etiquette (might it be bad etiquette to perhaps make a few copies to share with the passengers on your next flight?).

Here’s an idea, some people travel with their own pillows, perhaps we should design personal armrests for travel? Maybe call it the iArmrest or Travel-with-Me Armrest or how about Armrest 4U? (Now with secret travel pockets for your valuables and your own personal set of earphones with activated plug in!) I know what you’re thinking, “Jill, stick to site selection!”

Who do you think the armrest belongs to? Come on over to Facebook and take our one-click survey!

More from Jill: