People on Planes

I encountered a new form of obnoxiousness while flying back east to visit my parents yesterday. I had the middle seat in a row of three, which kind of sucks for a five-hour flight, but I can deal. This middle-aged, married-looking couple began sitting down on either side of me, so naturally, I offered to move one seat over so they could sit together. They exchanged pained, awkward glances, as though I had just told them not to mind my ebola virus, and then they explained that they had intentionally arranged to sit this way since the woman is claustrophobic and needed the aisle seat. Now, this reasoning didn’t hold water, because the dude could have easily traded places with me, and he didn’t — he stayed by the window. Obviously they both hated the middle seat and preferred to have a stranger suffering in between them. “Don’t worry, we won’t talk over you that much!” the guy said, but of course there was food being passed back and forth, and a cell phone (both engaged in baby talk with their grandson), and occasional conversation between them. It was like I’d unwittingly stepped into some weird, asexual ménage-à-trois.  The woman, it should also be noted, kept slipping out of her Prada sandals, and putting her nasty feet all over her seat cushion.

By the time we reached Atlanta from Seattle, I detested them and their stunning sense of self-entitlement, and I think they knew it, because the woman apologized again for her “claustrophobia.” I’m sure they’re going to pull this stunt on someone else on the way home, and while I feel bad for that poor sucker, I sure hope it isn’t me.


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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