Etiquette expert reveals the rules on manspreading on planes – and when it’s okay to use other people’s space


BATTLING for leg space on planes can often lead to arguments between passengers.

However, there are strict rules that people should follow to make life at least peaceful between them and their fellow travellers.


Passengers often find themselves battling for leg room on planesCredit: Getty

One passenger recently revealed an argument he had with someone he sat next to on a flight, in a thread on Reddit.

He wrote: “I’m tall and am never comfortable on planes. My knees always dig into the seat in front and it can be quite painful.

“I usually try to take a walk around the airport before flights to stretch my legs, but neglected to this time.”

The man was sat in the middle seat and tried to make himself more comfortable by spreading his legs out.

He explained: “I found my left knee inching to the side for the sweet relief of open space — specifically, the no-man’s-land in between seats, level with the shared armrest.

“I wasn’t paying attention to my knee the entire time. I’ll concede it’s possible that at some point I was occupying space that rightfully belonged to my window seat neighbour.”

His spreading led to a confrontation with the passenger sat in the window seat, who called a flight attendant over and angrily asked them to get involved.

He continued: “The woman in the window seat called over the flight attendant and asked the flight staffer something like, ‘Could you tell him to keep his f—ing leg in his own f—ing seat’.

“In horror, I understood she was talking about me. I instantly retracted my leg in shame.”

The man asked other people if he was in the wrong for spreading out into others’ space during the journey.

One said: “This is a known, recurring issue You KNOW you will feel better with more leg space. Stop pinching pennies and pay for an aisle seat or an exit seat. There are options!”

Another added: “I’m tall and I always pay to get an aisle seat. This guy is just an idiot.”

Fox News took things a step further and asked an etiquette expert what the man should have done in this instance.

Jacqueline Whitmore told them that everyone should “keep your arms and legs to yourself.

“The seats may be getting smaller by the day, but that doesn’t give you the right to spill over into someone else’s space or put your head on another person’s shoulder.”

However, there is one exception to this rule and that is “unless, of course, you know that person well.”

It’s not only the person next to you who can take up all your leg space either – with the passenger in the seat in front able to recline their chair into your room.

However, you can have little complaint about someone doing that, according to plane expert Ben Schlappig.

Ben has flown more than 4,700,000 miles since he was a teenager, so knows a thing or two about plane etiquette.

In a blog post on One Mile at a Time, he claimed that reclining a seat is a right for all passengers, regardless of who they are sitting in front of.

He said: “For me it’s quite simple. Reclining your seat, when the functionality is available, is a right. After all, the recline button is located at your seat, and not the seat behind you.”

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One passenger had their laptop destroyed when the person in front reclined their seat.

A design student produced plans for double decker seating arrangements to prevent seat reclining from affecting others..

The man spread his legs into the space either side of his seat to get more room (stock image)


The man spread his legs into the space either side of his seat to get more room (stock image)Credit: Getty

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