Flight-Etiquette: Should I Tell the Lady Next to Me to Stop Eating?

By | March 28, 2015

I was recently on a five-hour flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles. As it turns out, this United Airlines flight was nearly filled to capacity. A pre-boarding announcement was made for passengers to consider checking in their carry-on luggage. I needed my bags because I was hoping to shower at the United Club at LAX given that this was a red-eye flight.

The Boarding Process

Once the announcement was made to board the aircraft, I was fortunate to be in Group 1, which meant that I was going to be one of the first to board. A month or so before the flight, I visited the United website and selected the most ideal seat. For me, this means either bulkhead or emergency row aisle. Because bulkhead is closer to the front of the aircraft, I picked 7C. The only downside to this location is that I was near the lavatories. However, this was an overnight flight, so I anticipated light bathroom traffic.

The boarding process moved relatively quickly because many passengers heeded the advice of checking in carry-on bags. Interestingly, seats 7A and 7B were unoccupied. I thought perhaps the folks who were scheduled to sit here were awarded First Class upgrades, which left the seats open. However, these are prime seats on a long journey, and I was sure someone would jump in them soon.

The Eater … and Talker!

Sure enough … a few minutes before the flight attendants made the final preparations for the flight, a lady jumped in seat 7B, which was right next to me. Her hands were full, and she was using her right shoulder to hold the mobile phone to her ear. It’s remarkable how she was able to contort herself in that way.

The doors were closed, and the flight to LAX was cleared. As we began the push-back from the terminal, I noticed an interesting smell, one that comes from Chinese restaurants. Sure enough! The talking lady purchased a to-go Chinese meal, and she was about to eat it on the aircraft, while seated right next to me.

No Way!

I think there should be a rule regarding what you can eat on the airplane, and what is not allowed. Sandwiches from Subway are permitted. Well, perhaps the meatball type should not be allowed. The point here is that Chinese food is definitely a banned item.

The woman disobeyed the flight attendant’s instructions to turn off her phone, and continued to talk for several minutes after the directive. She was giving a friend dating advice. “It’s better to play hard to get,” she exclaimed!

The Flight

She ate about half the food, closed the tray, and placed it in the plastic bag. Despite these efforts to conceal the food, I could still smell the Mongolian Beef. Luckily, seat 7A was open, and she moved to it. However, since 7B was now open, she put the food in that seat. When she fell asleep a few minutes into the flight, I found a couple of blankets and covered the food. Surprisingly, it controlled the smell!

I’m sure many of you have similar stories to share, such as the guy who had too much to drink on a flight, or the person who laughed way too loud while watching an in-flight movie. For me, the lady eating the Chinese food takes the cake. How annoying!

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