Samantha Brown Breaks Down The Unspoken Rules Of Airplane Seating

Traveling can be a stressful experience. Even though the payoff of reaching a dreamy destination and enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime vacation makes the less-glamorous parts of traveling well worth it, there's no denying that sometimes the journey can be a bit uncomfortable, and at times, extremely annoying — especially when you're traveling via airplane.

There's nothing worse than boarding a full flight after navigating a busy airport, only to realize that you're seated near one of those annoying passengers who immediately takes their shoes off, spreads their bulky personal item between two seats, or incessantly pushes on the back of your seat. No one wants to sit near a rude passenger, but even more importantly, no one wants to be that passenger that is making others uncomfortable.

Seasoned travelers usually abide by a certain set of unspoken rules, but if you're a travel newbie or a first-time flier, it might take you a while to get the lay of the land. Luckily, one of our favorite travel experts, Samantha Brown, laid out some of the most common unspoken airplane etiquette rules you might not be aware of while traveling on an airplane. With a little effort, you can ensure the comfort of you and your fellow passengers on your next flight. "There are definitely unspoken rights on an airplane seat," Samantha told CNN. If you take her advice, you'll be flying like a travel pro in no time.

Unspoken airplane seat rules from a travel expert

Samantha Brown is a self-described "airport geek." She landed her first job hosting a travel-themed television show back 1999, and over her 20+ years working in the travel entertainment industry, she's visited over 250 cities, 62 countries, and 40 U.S states. It's safe to say she's one of the top travel experts, although she jokingly prefers the term "Travel Goddess." Throughout her adventures, Samantha has learned how to interact with all sorts of travelers — even the extremely annoying ones. In CNN's video, she describes some of the most important rules when it comes to traveling via airplane, particularly regarding airplane seating. For some, stinky plane behaviors like personal grooming (please don't clip your toenails on the airplane, people!) or encroaching on another traveler's personal space may seem like obvious behaviors to avoid. But some unspoken rules aren't quite as easy to discern. Not to worry, Samantha is here to help. 

When it comes to reclining your seat, Samantha says she refrains from reclining if the flight is under three hours, but if it's over three hours she likes to get comfortable. If you do have the misfortune of being seated next to someone who is disturbing you or being rude, it's totally okay to politely confront them. Samantha also likes to take a moment to record bad airplane behavior by documenting it with a few pics. No one wants to be the next barefoot TikTok sensation.

More unspoken airplane rules based on what seat you're in

The ultimate question when it comes to airplane seating is who really gets the middle seat armrest? There are definitely some rules Samantha Brown believes everyone should abide by throughout the flight based on where they're seated. If you are sitting in the window seat, then the window is yours throughout the flight. No one in the aisle or middle seat should try to tell the passenger seated at the window whether to put the shade up or down. 

Since the aisle seat has the most space and the window seat has the window, the middle seat should get "anything they want," according to Samantha Brown. That means the middle seat should have full use of both armrests on either side of them. If the passengers on either side are encroaching on your armrest space, "you do have every right just to kind of slowly push them off," Brown told CNN with a sly smile. "In the end, guys, you are on a plane. It is public transportation," Samantha said. "Four hours, five hours ... We can deal."