7 Kinds of Seatmates in the Skies and How to Deal With Them


Flying comes with various adventures. You are strapped to your seat in a small flying object with hundreds of strangers for the duration of your flight. You have to deal with strangers. Seatmates in the skies are like Christmas presents.

You will never know what or who you are getting until it/he/she gets there. Unless you fly with someone and you booked your seats to sit together.

Each time you fly, you’re cooped in a very confined space (talk economy cabin) with hundreds of strangers from different cultures with different attitudes in the air. You’ll see passengers getting bored, impatient, restless, and cranky.

Many people are not really comfortable flying and consider it a necessary evil. The majority of the passengers only want to  reach their destinations, get it over and done with. At the same time, there’s a few who enjoy the flight.

Kinds of seatmates

1. The Seat Snatchers

I had a flight from Davao to Manila, and I paid extra for a window seat. When I got to my place, a woman was already there with a child, and she was surrounded by plastic bags and a hundred other things. I double-checked, and it was MY seat.

I told the woman she was in my seat. She retorted that she was there early, and I should just take another seat somewhere else, and “if I want a window seat, I should have come earlier.”

I always pay extra for a window seat when I have to because I always take aerial photos. The woman’s attitude just made me cranky.

I called an FA and told her someone was in my seat. The FA evicted the woman back to her original aisle seat. She glowered at me and mumbled, pissed off that she had to relocate. Once we were airborne, she asked if it was my first time riding a plane. I just bit my lip to refrain from answering.

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2. The Space Invaders

On yet another flight, I was in my window seat at the very rear of the plane. A guy took the seat beside me. He then asked the FA for a seatbelt extender. Mounds of his flesh all spilled into my side, and I was squashed and squeezed into my little corner. Luckily it was a short two-hour flight, and he was so cheerful and pleasant. I survived with my original form still intact and not lopsided. I just thought that If I suffered from his weight, he was suffering hundreds of times more.


3. The Dark flyers

During a long-haul flight from Hong Kong to Las Vegas, I was busy shooting clouds through the window when this woman hissed at me from the middle aisle and said, “Close your damn f****ng window! We don’t open windows on long flights!”

Stunned, I answered sweetly, “Yes, Maam, I’m sorry, I was just waiting for a peddler to fly from outside the window so I could buy some eggs and biscuits. I’m so hungry.” I did not look to see her reaction.


4. The Praying Flyers

Then there was this one woman who really freaked me out. She hugged her rosary beads tight throughout the two-hour flight and uttered her prayers so loud. It made me think she might have experienced traumatic flights before.


5. The Comedy Fans on Headphones

On a flight to Narita from Jakarta one time, the girl behind me was watching a movie and was laughing so loud she had headphones on, and only she could see what was tickling her.


6. The Screamers

A woman marches down the aisle with three young kids, and you hope to high heavens they are not your seatmates. If they are, and the kids engage in a screaming contest throughout the flight, just be thankful you’re not traveling with the kids and becoming the recipient of glares from other passengers.

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7. The Seat Recliners

Another time, there’s this giant of a guy in front of me. I was enjoying my coffee and watching cloud formations in the skies when all of a sudden, he reclined his seat, jerking my tray and spilling my coffee. That’s the only time I learned to appreciate the lukewarm coffee they served me.


How to deal with the different seatmates

The stories about seatmates in the skies are endless, and we could go on and on. Unless you charter the whole flight for yourself, there’s nothing you can do about it but accept whatever and whoever sits next to you and around you.

Here’s my secret on how to survive flights. Just think that whatever you’re feeling about your stranger seatmates, the feeling is mutual. Second, your flight won’t last forever. You’re going to land again after a few hours.

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What was your most unforgettable kind of seatmate in the skies? Share and comment below.

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