Why manspreading breaks airplane etiquette

Manspreading is the act of infringing on another person's personal space with body parts Credit:Flickr

Brenda, a Nebraska traveller, recently took to Facebook to vent about an inconsiderate fellow passenger on a flight. His crime? ‘Manspreading.’

Manspreading is the act of sitting with legs wide apart, often infringing on the personal space of those seated next to you.  It is a social misstep that can be commited by any gender.

Brenda’s frustration resonated with many. The post ignited a firestorm of comments condemning the man’s behaviour. Commenters slammed him as “gross,” “selfish,” and lacking in “cabin etiquette.” The sentiment was clear: a stranger’s leg in your personal space is unacceptable.

Strategies to re-claim personal space

The discussion quickly pivoted to a broader issue: why do some feel entitled to take up more than their share of airplane seating?

Some particpants advocated for pushing back, literally and figuratively, against such behaviour. Several women shared strategies for claiming their rightful space, from pre-emptively placing a leg at the boundary to booking aisle seats.

Janet Lucas Lintala, author of The Un-Prescription for Autism, recently said on Facebook – “As a female traveller, I’m used to taking up less space and I really needed that skill today. I saw this “space invader” coming and as he got seated next to me, I turned to him with my best southern smile and brightly said, “I bet you want one of these!” as I pulled the armrest down between us. That got his left arm and the bulk of his upper body off of me. Only had to deal with the manspreading after that! At one point he straightened his left leg and extended it into my foot well! Are they REALLY that oblivious to it????

A challenge for tall passengers

Many blamed airlines for shrinking seat sizes, contributing to the discomfort. “Greedy airlines” and “ridiculously small” seating were recurring themes. The challenge for tall passengers was also acknowledged, with some suggesting airlines offer improved seating options.

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Written by

Trelawney Bresic

Trelawney is a journalist and screenwriter. She began her career at the Euro Weekly News twenty years ago and is passionate about honest and compelling journalism. If you have a news story, don't hestitate to get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com


    • John McLean

      05 July 2024 • 10:58

      Cheap flights mean more seats on an aircraft, you can one or the other.

    • Trixie Miller

      05 July 2024 • 23:47

      I travelled for many years on Thameslink. When I was fortunate enough to find a seat, I used to carry a rigid flat briefcase which I placed, standing up, next to one side if there were a man sitting there. This prevented him from spreading his thighs – worked a treat1


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