Let’s face it – we’ve all played that game of chance when riding our favorite form of public transportation, whether it be a streetcar in San Francisco, a plane flying out of JFK, or a public bus or subway:
“Is that person coming down the aisle going to sit in the empty seat next to me?”
And there are some people who are coming through that you say, “why yes – I’d love for that hottie to sit next to me for the next 4 hours” (Web Watch knows of at least one blooming relationship that was born from such a random airplane encounter).
And then there are others who you hope and pray won’t choose you to be their personal Travel Buddy and Hygiene Police.
So what do you do to GUARANTEE AN EMPTY SEAT next to you?
Well, according to Yale University’s Esther Kim, who apparently has spent way too much time sitting (and observing) what people do on cross-country Greyhound bus trips, she has determined that there are certain “rules of the road” that the majority of travellers tend to adhere to.
The most important one is that “if there are other seats available, you should try to avoid sitting directly next to someone.” Only when all single seats are taken should you then begin to determine who you should sit next to.
Here is what she found worked best in ensuring that the seat next to you would remain unoccupied the longest:
- Avoid eye contact with other people
- Lean against the window and stretch out your legs
- Place a large bag on the empty seat
- Sit on the aisle seat and turn on your iPod so you can pretend you can’t hear people asking for the window seat.
- Place several items on the spare seat so it’s not worth the passenger’s time waiting for you to move them.
- Look out the window with a blank stare to look crazy
- Pretend to be asleep
- Put your coat on the seat to make it appear already taken
- If all else fails, lie and say the seat has been taken by someone else
The biggest takeaway from her study is that everybody wanted to avoid sitting next to the “crazy person”.
So the best way to guarantee the seat next to you remains empty? Maybe you just need to be That Guy, if only for a little bit of time.
Do your own experiment and let us know which of the above tips (including Acting Crazy) worked best for you, and leave a note in the comments below…
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