Is talking to yourself the new way to start a conversation on an airplane?

I took four flights yesterday. On three of them, my seatmate started talking to themselves. Not a deep, philosophical conversation, but just continuous commentary every now and then. And in the end, all three of them ended up starting a conversation with me. This leads me to believe that the reason they were talking to themselves, out loud, is because they wanted me to jump in and say something.

Now I figured on my first flight it was obvious enough I didn’t want to talk. For one, it was still dark outside, in which case it’s a sure bet that I don’t want to talk. I had a hoodie on (and even put it over my head), put my headphones on, and closed my eyes. But that didn’t stop my seatmate from tapping my shoulder as I was trying to sleep to start a conversation. She started the conversation with “so, what do you think of the Continental/United merger?” Really?!? After a conversation that spanned nearly two hours, she at least had the courtesy to say “I hope I didn’t prevent you from sleeping.” Cricket…

On the other two flights where my seatmates were talking to themselves, it wasn’t quite as ridiculous. It was more along the lines of them making about five comments about how nice the scenery was, followed quickly by “so, heading home?”

It’s not that I’m always anti-social. It’s just that I didn’t get any sleep the night before I was flying, and I just wanted to sleep and be left alone. Fortunately there was a familiar FlyerTalker that I actually wanted to talk to on one of the flights, and at that point I was well rested.

On a completely unrelated note, I saw Grown Ups and Dinner for Schmucks in-flight yesterday. Grown Ups was absolutely hilarious (I can usually stop myself from actually laughing out loud, but there were some scenes where I just couldn’t help myself), and I thought Dinner for Schmucks was just awful, and I’m a huge Steve Carell fan. And I remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that I fell asleep during Toy Story 3, and I do feel the need to apologize for that, since a few readers called me out on it. Yeah, I saw the whole movie the week after I made that post, and the movie was brilliant. I almost shed a tear. Evil Lotso Bear!

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Actually tapping you on the shoulder is impressive. Not sure I’ve ever had that happen.

    I’m generally anti-talk, though there have been a few times when I couldn’t help making some snide comment about a PA announcement, which subsequently led to a conversation… šŸ™‚ Don’t think it’s happened in reverse.

  2. I’ll preface this with saying I haven’t seen Dinner for Schmucks yet but I have seen my fair share of French movies that were remade for the English market. It usually doesn’t work. The American version of “Taxi” was a complete and utter flop yet there were 4 of the French ones. “Diner de cons” is a great movie btw.

    That is a little brazen to tap you on the shoulder. For the most part, I am anti-talk as well.

  3. I’ve never had somebody tap me on the shoulder, but I have had some people that use an in-flight event, such as turbulence, to start a conversation. Flying on a UX E170 from MSY-ORD, we hit a pocket of heavy turbulence, which really shook the plane, and caused a few people to scream. The guy next to me had some weird reaction, and grabbed my arm šŸ˜® Moments later he apologized, and we got into the story about my being a then 1P, and how I would be 1K at the end of the month, and FT, etc…

  4. In some cultures its quite alright to talk to yourself, and it might be quite rude to “interrupt” their conversation with themselves. Since planes as usually full of people from all over the world, you never know who you’ll be sitting next to.

  5. When traveling TO a conference, I prefer not to talk, as I’m usually reading journal articles. When traveling FROM a conference, my happiest flights are when I find myself seated next to a friendly fellow female traveler who has nothing in common with my work. The conversation and laughter are a perfect way to decompress from an intensive meeting. I would never tap someone on the shoulder to start a conversation, though!

  6. The ones who drive me a little crazy are those seatmates who simply fail to bring any entertainment, so then want to chat throughout the flight.

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