How Do You Silence the Chatterbox Sitting Next to You on a Flight?

Photo (cc) by UW Digital Collections

Confession time: I’ve been the chatty seatmate on the airplane.

SmarterTravel published a column about how to shush a seatmate who chats away like a 10-year-old at a slumber party. Sure, you can try social cues — staring intently into a book, wearing ear buds — but what if that doesn’t work, SmarterTravel columnist Caroline Costello asks. Also, those cues can hurt your seatmate’s feelings.

I know that from experience.

My Chatty Cathy impersonation came about several years ago when I was unexpectedly bumped into business class on a flight to Germany. The airline employee who gave me the free upgrade said she did so because I was so pleasant.

Now, really, I didn’t chat her up for a better seat. When she gave me one, though, it sent my usual loquaciousness into overdrive.

One icy blast of eye contact from the businessman seated next to me left no doubt that it was time to shut down the happy chat.

Now that I have lived a few more years and traveled many more miles, I understand where the businessman was coming from. But surely there must be a kinder, gentler way to get your seatmate to pipe down than to fix them with a death stare.

Costello asked etiquette consultant Jay Remer, who said:

People need to have enough self-confidence in themselves to be able to say how they feel about something without self-doubt. If someone is bugging you, say, “I just want some time to myself.” [If you] give a reason why, make sure it has nothing to do with the other person. Because we’re human beings, we tend to take things personally every chance we get.

If a survey by TravelLeadersGroup.com is on point, you likely haven’t tried that direct approach. Just more than 10 percent of respondents to the group’s survey had.

And speaking as a sometimes clueless Chatty Cathy, I will say the direct approach would be kinder, and likely more effective, than the you’re-an-idiot stare, too.

Have you had a chatty seatmate you wanted to silence? Were you a chatty seatmate someone else fixed with a stare? Tell us about your experience below or on our Facebook page.

No one has really spelled out the rights of passengers to peace and quiet on a flight, but the industry has spelled out your rights when you encounter other travel challenges. Watch this video to learn more:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon

You don’t have to be a Prime member to take advantage of these little-known perks of shopping on Amazon.

8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon
8 Things You Can Buy for $1 or Less on Amazon

They say you get what you pay for — but not always. Sometimes, you can uncover a good deal at a great price.

15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5
15 Great Amazon Finds You Can Buy for Less Than $5

These products offer big value at a small price.

8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple
8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple

Ready for retirement? Not so fast. You might be surprised at some of the issues that come up for couples when they plan.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.