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Armrest Rules on Airplanes

April 6, 2009
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I’ve always thought there should be a standard set of rules regarding the acquisition and use of armrests on airplanes. Today I am creating these rules and posting them on the Internet for all of eternity.

armrest

Two Seats (One Armrest)

  1. The first person to put his arm on the armrest becomes the owner of the armrest until he takes his arm off the rest, even for a second.
  2. If both parties put their arms on the rest at the exact same time, an “awkward-off” shall commence, with the first person to yield losing all armrest priviledges until Rule #1 applies.

Three Seats (Two Armrests)

        1.  The person in the middle may use both armrests for the duration of the flight and must be yielded to even if he doesn’t use the armrests for a while, unless:

  • He falls asleep with his arms not on the armrests;
  • He does not have arms.

       2.  There are certain people who, even if seated on the desired window or aisle seats, may use the middle armrests despite Rule #1. Those people include:

  • Old people (asking for ID is okay but not encouraged);
  • Really hot people;
  • Famous people;
  • Harry Potter;
  • Anyone who shares their food/magazines/newspapers with you on the flight (the exchange rate is one item for one hour of unmitigated armrest use).

       3.  There are also some people who, even if seated in the middle seat, may be jostled with to attain and secure an armrest. These people include:

  • Anyone who smoked a pack of cigarettes immediately before getting on the plane;
  • Anyone who has not showered in the last 48 hours (you may ask);
  • Anyone who watches a movie on a portable DVD player or iPod without earphones;
  • Little kids who keep trying to get all up in your business;
  • Anyone who keeps talking to you even though you clearly just want to read your book;
  • Paris Hilton;
  • People who spill their drink on you (one drink spilled equals one hour of armrest use).

These rules have been confirmed and approved by the American Sky Security (ASS).

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Trevor permalink
    April 7, 2009 12:14 pm

    Addendum: During a 2-seat, 1-armrest awkward-off, it is acceptable to place your arm directly on top of the other person’s arm, and then to look the other person directly in the eye in either an (1) aggressive or (2) loving way. Growling (coincides with option 1) or eyelash fluttering (coincides with option 2) are permitted as useful and fair tactics during an awkward-off. The awkward-off, however, is forfeited if, as you place your arm directly on top of the other person’s arm, you stop touching the armrest or the person’s arm (which is now an extension of the armrest). Therefore, sliding your arm up the other person’s arm is recommended (as opposed to lifting your arm and placing it upon the other person’s arm…thereby creating definitive spacial separation and fofeiture of the awkward-off).

    In addition, it is recommended that you practice your growl and/or eyelash flutter in front of a mirror before trying it on an actual person. Breaking your stare, fluttering your eyes wildly as if you’ve just had a gnat fly into them, or emitting a kitten’s yawp instead of a true growl will almost certainly lose you an awkward-off. These are advanced tactics, and advanced skills are required.

    For true awkward-off masters, the combination growl/eyelash flutter can be a useful weapon. I’ve never seen someone abdicate an armrest faster than when I simultaneously rolled my arm on top of his, turned with a vicious, yet loving stare, and growled as my eyes offered him “butterfly kisses”. Needless to say, not only was the remainder of the flight quiet, but he scooted so far away from the middle armrest that the farside armrest left an imprint on his ribcage.

    • April 7, 2009 12:22 pm

      Awesome, awesome comment. I like the combo move. In my world, a butterfly kiss consists of brushing one’s eyelashes against another’s cheek–are you saying that’s what you did?

      • Trevor permalink
        April 8, 2009 6:31 am

        Well, it was more innuendo than actual face-to-face touching. My highly skilled eyelash flutter coupled with a slight tilt toward the other person insinuated that I was heading in for a butterfly kiss like a B-2 bomber preparing to drop its payload.

  2. James P. permalink
    April 10, 2009 5:47 am

    Someone has developed a “paper-clip” design for armrests that can possibly throw out all of these rules; still, this may take a while to get them implemented on airplanes. Check these 2 websites:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2009/04/03/more-on-the-paper-clip-armrest-a-qa-with-designer-james-lee/
    http://www.paperclip.hk/

    • April 10, 2009 7:34 am

      Thanks, James. I don’t think it’s the perfect solution, but it’s certainly a good start.

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