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Attack of the Space Invaders

Updated on July 19, 2011

If you sit in an airplane seat as much as I do, you have probably battled what frequent travelers call the “Space Invaders”. These are people who take more than their fair share of space on the plane. They invade the overhead compartment, leg room, armrest, seat, and even your ears.

Here are a few categories of Invaders I’ve come to sit next to from time to time:

The Over-Packer

This is the person who wants to avoid luggage charges but bring everything they own on their trip. They somehow get past the gate attendant with a full sized suitcase, and then block the boarding process while trying to stuff the large case into the overhead. While flight attendants are announcing instructions to place cases in the long way, with wheels out, this person has their bag sideways placing a coat and hat on one side and a purse or brief case on the other and maybe some package purchased at the gift shop in their too. They end up taking a full compartment, which would normally accommodate three or four passenger’s bags.

The Empty Seat Hog

If you are fortunate enough to be in an aisle or window seat with an empty middle seat, it makes the flight way more comfortable for everyone – unless that empty space is grabbed by the other neighboring seat to store their brief case, coat, food, and anything else they brought aboard. Empty seat hogs also tend to pull down the tray table in the middle seat so they have more room to work, eat, drink and generally increase the discomfort of the person in the other seat.

The Leg Spreader

I know there is only enough leg room in coach for a 5-year old child, but that doesn’t mean people should be able to spread their legs out wide and take their neighbor’s leg room. Nobody wants to rub legs with a stranger (unless they are extremely attractive, and those people are usually in first class anyway).

The Aisle Butter

This is the guy who stands in the aisle and bends over looking for stuff in his (or her) bag. When they bend over it usually means that their derriere ends up in the face of the aisle seat passenger across from their seat.

The Nosey Neighbor

Sometimes it’s not a physical invasion of space so much as an aroma wafting across the short space between passengers. Just because the airlines put us in a cattle car is no reason to smell like cattle.

The Messy Eater

I hate finding crumbs from the other guy’s food on my clothes at the end of a flight or getting a drink spilled on me because someone put’s their cup on the edge of the tray table and knocks it over in my direction. Oh sure, the say “I’ll pay for your cleaning” but they’re headed for Peoria and I’m stopping in Cleveland! Check’s in the mail, I’m sure.

The Noisy Neighbor

There is nothing like a person with headphones that spill out music loud enough to share with everyone, to make a trip unpleasant. Worse still is the person who does not shut off their cell phone but instead, has loud conversations (sometimes of a personal nature) – TMI – TMI already.

The Sloppy Sleeper

This is the person who gets so comfortable (I can see first class but getting that comfy in coach means they are really tired) that they fall asleep and roll their head onto your shoulder – worse if they drool in their sleep.

The Spill-Over

I realize we have an obesity epidemic going on and many of us could use to drop a few pounds (Travel’n Person included), but it is no excuse make fellow passengers suffer for that affliction. I have seen many a large person make themselves as small as possible and as uncomfortable as that is, they did not intrude on their fellow passenger’s space but then there is always the exception …

True Story:

I was sitting in the aisle seat of a 737-500 with its cozy 17-inch wide seats when a large woman walked up to my row and announced that she had the middle seat. When I got up and let her into the row, she stepped in, quickly lifted both armrests, and plopped herself down on her seat, half of my seat, and the window seat passenger’s right leg.

As I tried to sit in what was left of my seat, I asked her if I could put the armrest back down (in a hopeless attempt to gain back some space). She only laughed and said “Ha – you can try!”


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