Tuned In

To Air Is Human

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The things I learn watching CNN with the sound off on the elliptical trainer in the morning! The above clip comes via a report this morning that Delta Airlines has been using short video to indoctrinate passengers about airline courtesy. This clip is called “Middleman”–you’ll see why when you watch–and the Planeguage campaign’s YouTube page includes such other classics as Lavdance, Kidtastrophe and Shady Lady.

The videos are illustrative, but they’re not actually prescriptive. What is proper middle-seat armrest protocol, anyway? In a three-seat row, both end people get a dedicated armrest and share one. Is the middleman entitled to half of each armrest? Two-thirds? The controversy rages at Delta’s blog, where one commenter insists: “When will people learn?! The ‘Middleman’ should always get the armrests! He’s the one stuck in the MIDDLE!” Probably a middleman talking.

Of course, there’s a little victim-blaming going on here. Whatever society’s failures to inculcate respect for others, some of the plane-etiquette problems might be a little easier to deal with if planes weren’t so damn cramped, no?

Or is it bad manners to point that out?