NEW YORK, NY - One man's mission to travel comfortably found him at odds with the time-honored tradition of letting the middle seat passenger have the armrests when his aisle-seat companion simply refused to honor the code.
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NEW YORK, NY – One man’s mission to travel comfortably found him at odds with the time-honored tradition of letting the middle seat passenger have the armrests when his aisle-seat companion simply refused to honor the code.

43-year-old Jim Graves is an IT professional and road warrior who’s spent many a year in the air. On this fateful flight, however, Graves wasn’t able to travel on his preferred airline and found himself stuck in the middle seat.

As Graves crammed his dad-bod into the middle seat he found some solace in the fact that at least he’d have two armrests for the 3-hour flight.

Was he ever wrong.

As Graves settled in the boarding process and continued and soon his companions arrived, taking both the window and aisle seat.

In the window was an off-duty pilot who promptly tossed his noise-canceling headphones on and promptly passed out.

In the aisle was 27-year-old Devin Watson who’d recently just started traveling for work. The New York-based consultant is hitting the road a few times a month and so far so good. Until recently, that is, when he found himself in the middle of a small inflight fracas over armrests with Graves.

Graves observed Watson take the aisle seat, plop his own headphones on, and start to watch a downloaded episode of Ugly Delicious on his iPhone.

He also dropped both of his elbows onto the armrests.

At first, Graves gave his passenger the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe he just forgot, or got a little sloppy with elbows,” Graves told our reporters. “I figured, once we got airborne, all would sort itself out like normally happens.”

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However, Watson refused to budge, staunchly anchoring his right elbow to the armrest leaving Graves confused. As a long-time road warrior, Graves dipped into his back of tricks and gently inched his arm on the armrest. When a small bit of turbulence would jostle the passengers, he’d take another quarter inch. Slowly but surely he managed to gain about half of the armrest before his progress was halted.

armrest to middle seat companion

Watson, now perturbed, removed his headphones, turned to his seatmate and griped, “Bro, what are you doing? My arm was here first!”

Graves was stunned. An actual confrontation over armrests? Never in his 19 years of business travel had this occurred. Literally, everyone knows the armrests are the domain of the person in the middle seat.

Rather than risk a lifetime ban on the airline should the matter escalate further, Graves relented, conceding the hard-fought territory to the young man for the duration of the flight.

Upon landing, he immediately lobbed a complaint into the popular Facebook group, Travel Grumps 101 which was met with multiple supportive comments from other incensed business travelers.

The Takeoff Nap reached out to travel industry veteran Pandy Reterson who offered this comment, “Everyone knows the middle seat gets the armrests. It’s the law! I don’t know who this entitled Xennial is, but he needs to get educated quick.”

No word on whether Graves received any sort of compensation for his duress.

Lee is the brains (but definitely not the looks) of The Takeoff Nap. When he's not complaining about upgrades he runs a few travel blogs, but this one is his favorite.

One reply on “Man refuses to give up armrest to middle seat companion”

  1. I say it should be 50/50 or nobody gets it. Either take the front half or the back half because both sets of elbows fit on it. Usually I keep my elbows off. My arm just fit along side the armrest and if someone’s arm is on top of the armrest then we get quite cozy with arms touching. Most find that uncomfortable but I deserve at least my seat space.

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