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United Airlines Flight Attendant Announces 'Armrest Rule' That Breaks Middle Seat Etiquette

Airports + Flying
by Katie Scott Aiton Apr 11, 2024

A puzzled United Airlines passenger took to Reddit after a flight where the flight attendant supposedly announced “rules” stating which passenger has the right to an armrest. Contrary to basic etiquette, the passenger claims the United employee asserted no traveler gets two armrests.

The announcement was made before take-off and reportedly declared every passenger should use “the armrest on their right” or the left, depending on positioning in the aircraft. The Reddit user claims the flight attendant also instructed those sitting in the aisle to “keep the armrest clear” for passing by passengers and the crew.

It’s unclear if the account is true. The instruction does not reflect an official airline regulation. Matador Network reached out to United Airlines for clarification and will update this story if we get a response.

Regardless, it once again sparks the armrest debate many thought had been ironed out.

There is an unspoken universally agreed-upon “rule” that the middle-seat passenger gets dibs on the armrests. Stuck between two neighbors, those in the middle have tighter quarters, less legroom, and no window view, so the armrests are a consolation prize for the least desirable seat. Of course, if the person next to you seems uncomfortable, a friendly offer to share the armrest goes a long way in making the flight more pleasant for everyone.

The Reddit post also states the announcement concluded that “no armrest drama would be tolerated.” So, the discussion moved online with commenters up in arms.

“This is why I wear noise cancellation earphones as soon as I’m aboard,” says one commenter.

Many were more concerned about the ridiculous “rule” about not being able to use the aisle armrest. But most agreed that the flight attendant is 100 percent “wrong” considering the standard layout of rows in an aircraft.

“I always assumed the middle seat got both armrests. Because let’s be honest, the middle seat SUCKS. I always felt like it was the least I could do for their troubles,” says another Reddit user.

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