How Can I Get People to Stop Kicking My Chair?

Try this quick tip to end this very uncomfortable—and annoying—situation. 

Photo by Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

Q. What can I say to people who kick my seat on planes or in theaters?


A. This is a case where polite directness suffices. Don’t shoot dirty looks out of the corner of your eye or complain loudly to your seatmate. Simply turn around, smile, and say, “Would you please stop kicking my seat? Thank you so much.” You can add, “I bet you didn’t even know that you were doing it!” if you like, as this is probably true and has the bonus of offering the seat-kicker the benefit of the doubt. Given the dwindling legroom on airplanes, it can be difficult to settle in, and squirmy neighbors might be genuinely unaware that their own discomfort is provoking the same in others.

If the seat-kicker is a child, speak directly to him or her: “When you kick your legs, they’re actually kicking the back of the seat of the person sitting in front of you—which, in this case, is me. Would you please stop?” You’ll be offering useful information to both the child and a listening parent and modeling a courteous, respectful request as well.

—Catherine Newman

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