8 ways to avoid talking to a chatty seatmate

woman in airplane seat

Although not every airplane is filled with terrible, annoying people, it’s an unavoidable fact that yours certainly will be. And while most of us view flying as an opportunity to watch a movie, read a book, or drunkenly stroke other passengers, some lonely overachievers see it as a networking opportunity with a captive audience. So what're you to do when trapped next to a garrulous chatterbox? Here are eight easy ways to avoid their nauseating pleasantries.

sleeping on a plane
Flickr user Matt Kowal

8. Pretend to be asleep
Or better yet, fall asleep for real! If dozing among the shrill cries of toddlers is unrealistic, however, throw on one of those douchey eye masks or wrap a t-shirt around your head like you're taking a fraternity pledge.

7. Make them uncomfortable
While airplane conversation tends to be standard “getting to know you” banter, escalate the discussion by subtly inserting as many controversial topics or questions as possible, and then letting the awkwardness end it. Examples: “Ah, so you're in latex sales... interesting. What do you bring down a year, anyway?" “Going to visit your daughter and her husband -- that sounds like fun. Let me ask you, how old do you think she was when she lost her virginity? Just curious." "Question: if there was one race of people deserving of ethnic cleansing, who you going with?”

headphones on an airplane
Flickr user nosha

6. Headphones
Ok, this one's a freebie. The easiest way to avoid conversation (and also enjoy the latest musical stylings from Imagine Dragons) is to throw 'em on before you sit down, and keep them there until you deplane. They don’t even need to be plugged into anything! Ignore without guilt.

5. Act hard of hearing
Yes, this one may send you straight to hell (or at the least call down a torrent of bad karma), but if you really want to be left alone, simply pop in an old hearing aid (or one of these $12 bad boys) and ignore everything they say. They'll eventually put two and two together and stop asking why you're headed to Phoenix.

mentally unstable on a plane
Universal Pictures

4. Appear emotionally unstable
Twitching, mumbling curses, crazy eyes -- make sure to do something visibly “off” that’ll get the attention of your row-mate. Take out a journal and write the phrase “Planes don’t have souls” over and over and over again in red ink until they notice. This should create a forcefield around your seat that screams “Do not engage”.

3. Learn to say “I don’t speak English” in Belarussian
If you pretend not to speak English, there’s always the risk that the person next to you speaks Spanish, or French, or whatever easy romance language you claim to be native to. But with only 7.6 million speakers in Belarus, it’s a pretty safe bet the guy with the window seat won’t be proficient. Make sure to have a Belarusssian book (any book in Cyrillic will do) open on your tray table, and simply point to it as soon as he starts up. NOTE: Avoid this method if you are actually aboard a flight to Belarus.

depressed, head in hands
Flickr user zach klein

2. Be a wet blanket
Row-mate: "So, whatcha got going on in Indianapolis?"
You: "I just travel to break up the loneliness and monotony of my inconsequential life. Seriously, this plane could crash, and nobody would know I was dead for weeks. Indy? Better than sitting at home alone again on the weekend, right? Right?" (trail off with awkward laughter that turns into soft sobs).

1. Get them kicked off the plane
Pull a flight attendant aside before take-off and whisper, “The guy sitting next to me’s black-out drunk, and his phone isn’t on Airplane Mode”. Before you know it, he’ll be escorted off by the FBI, and you’ve got an extra seat under which to stow your bag.