Please humor me and imagine the following circumstances: You’ve booked a flight to some exotic/domestic location via Southwest Airlines. You’ve successfully checked in on time, undergone security, reached your gate, and now the moment of truth arrives.
Well, not yet actually. You still have to wait in the C group before you can actually board the flight. You curse yourself for not checking in earlier, but realize there’s nothing you can do about it now.
As the line gradually shortens and you shuffle forward, you start to feel anxious about the flight filling up or all of the good seats being taken. At this point, it’s important to note Southwest Airlines’ seating policy: They don’t assign seats, so you’re supposed to feel free to sit in any available seat once you board the plane. Again, this is very important for the point I eventually will make.
Finally, when you can wait no longer, you are permitted to take that first fateful step on the aircraft, only to find that your worst fears have been confirmed.
As far as the eye can see, there are semi-occupied rows of passengers extending back into the plane. Wait. Semi-occupied?
By semi-occupied I mean that in each row both the coveted aisle and window seats have been taken, leaving only the dreaded middle seat.
But rather than acknowledge your pitifully awkward and inconvenient position, the men and women already sitting make an effort to make themselves look preoccupied. They read in-flight magazines. They twiddle their thumbs. They stare off into space.
At this sort of thing I say: Please, my fellow passengers! We may be strangers, but allow us to be friends during this short duration of a flight! When you see a confused and bewildered passenger looking for a seat, kindly offer the one next to you. Make eye contact. Perhaps even try to introduce yourself. If they refuse, no harm done. If they accept, then congratulations! You have just made that person’s day ten times easier.
I may not be an expert, but that is my take on in-flight etiquette.