Flying economy class can be rife with problems. Over the years the pitch and width of the seats have decreased making the armrest the last remnant of comfort in an ever-decreasing space. But who gets priority over the armrest?

The etiquette around who gets that armrest has been bubbling for decades often causing disgruntled passengers to play an aggressive game of elbow tag just for an extra inch or two.

The trouble is there is no set rule and often this sparks disagreements. This has led one exasperated flight attendant on a United Airlines flight to pronounce a ruling as follows: passengers should use the “armrest on their right” – or left side depending on the side of the plane – and instructed those in aisle seats to “keep the armrest clear for cabin crew convenience”. She then asserted that disagreements would not be “tolerated“.

However, a United Airlines spokesman said there are no hard and fast rules and told The Independent newspaper that: “Generally, in a three-seat economy row, the four armrests are divided as passengers please, with the aisle armrest in use.”

In other words, armrests are up for grabs. Everyone pays the same fare and without a consensus, passengers are free to allot their usage according to their own conscience.

Some may feel sorry for the person in the passenger in the middle seat who would claim both the middle armrests for themselves as they have neither the space of the aisle nor the window to rest their head. According to Reader’s Digest, the middle seat passenger gets the armrests – no ifs or elbows butts about it. Not everyone agrees. One frequent flier, Joy Parker, told us on X (Twitter):

“I still remember a very rude woman in an aisle seat beside me who insisted on using both armrests so that I, in the middle seat, could not even lift my arm to eat”.

Another traveller mooted the possibility of two to share an armrest – the middle passenger can use the rear of the rest allowing the front for the other passengers.

Even if you can wrap your head around that issue, there’s still the question of who has control of the window shutter, who tells the kid behind to stop kicking your seat and whether you have the right recline your seat especially while others are eating. And, is it ok to take your socks off and bare your feet during a flight?

Source : https://www.thetravelmagazine.net/q-who-has-priority-over-the-armrest-on-a-plane/

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