Written by Jacqueline Newell
The first thing you say to the person next to you on an airplane is a make or break situation. You can say nothing and stake claim over the arm rest, you can be that person who may or may not be pretending to have a cold, or you can actually make conversation with the person sitting next to you. I once spent an entire 3 hour flight, Nashville to Denver, making friends with James the man nurse [murse] from Boulder who would routinely flies to Vanderbilt for nursing classes. We spoke in Spanish and he convinced me to get a flu shot. Needless to say, we became pen pals.
As many of you may know, Southwest allows you to pick your own seat when flying with them. When you’re able to check in precisely 24 hours in advance, there is still a chance you will not get a “A” section boarding but it’s a risk you take when you buy with Southwest. But, to be honest, I always get my boarding passes at the gate so deal with the hand I am dealt. Occasionally I get lucky!
On a 7am flight from Portland, Maine to Baltimore, I had a B or a C and somehow still managed to get the window seat on the emergency exit row. Now, for those who know me well and know my stories of flying to Oktoberfest while studying abroad, you know this seat has, let’s say, fond memories of anxiety and misinterpretation of foreign languages. The man sitting in the aisle seat on this particular Southwest flight eyed my kick ass jump suit suspiciously when I sat down next to him. I could tell he was thinking – in case of an emergency, is this woman going to care about her very cool gold cap toes flats or my life? He was #judging. And, as we learned from Legally Blond, he probably didn’t actually know what type of shoes they were. I gave him a moment to make his judgement before looking at him and, without hesitation, said “Don’t worry, I’m a Girl Scout” and then turned back to my Kindle. The man was taken back at first before comprehending what I had said to him and then proceeded to tell the flight attendant that we would be safe because I am a Girl Scout.
Needless to say, the first words exchanged between you and the stranger who may fall asleep with their head on your shoulder are incredible important. You’re establishing a relationship and, for your sake, I hope it’s a good one. This will help make things less awkward when you wake up to find you’ve been using their shoulder as a pillow and they have stolen your free bag of stale pretzels.
Happy travels everyone!