Unless you are super rich and can afford to rent out a private jet, you’re going to be seated next to someone when you fly, and there’s no doubt your seatmate can play a big role in whether or not that trip is a pleasant one. These days a lot of folks probably just go about their business and keep to themselves on a flight, but is it actually okay to talk to the person sitting next to you on a flight? Well, according to a new survey, the answer is…maybe.
A new British Airways poll of 1,500 travelers from the U.S., UK, Germany, France and Italy finds that 83% of travelers believe saying hello and smiling at the person next to you on a flight is totally acceptable and appropriate, but whether to go farther than that is a different story.
For U.S. travelers, 42% find it unacceptable to talk about personal stories with a seatmate. But there are some travelers who are totally okay with chatting on a flight. In fact, 80% of Italian travelers say small talk is totally okay on a flight, while half of French travelers think flights are great places to meet new friends.
Now if you get roped into a conversation you don’t want to be having, there are some polite ways to end it. Folks in the U.S. think it’s okay to politely thank the person and then put on headphones, while UK travelers suggest getting up to use the bathroom can quickly end the conversation. Of course, there are times when conversations get very uncomfortable, and in those instances, 53% of travelers say it’s totally okay to switch seats, as long as the cabin crew approves.