Toronto Star

Bare foot on plane armrest kicks up storm of reader response


Dear Readers: After I had an unpleasant encounter with a woman’s bare (unclean) foot poking onto my airplane seat’s armrest, I asked for similar stories and your responses. Here are some Tales from the Skies:

A passenger in front of me refused a flight attendant’s request for him to put his seat back up during the meal, which meant I had to contemplat­e his filthy scalp while trying to eat. I dipped my fingers into my water glass, and while feigning a huge sneeze, flicked the water drops onto his head. The seat went from zero to “upright” in a matter of seconds!

I’d turn around and calmly ask, “Is there a reason you’ve placed your foot on my armrest?” If she had a medical condition requiring her to elevate her foot I would have said, “I wish you would’ve asked first. Please ask the flight attendant for something to put under your foot so it’s not resting directly on my armrest.” Otherwise, I’d request that the offending foot be immediatel­y removed from my armrest.

I’d have suggested she pay me a percentage of my ticket for the privilege of using my armrest. I would have further pointed out the item is referred to as an “armrest,” not “footrest.”

My first reaction would have been to ask what the smell was, but perhaps it’s better to just tickle her foot. If she complains tell her you have a foot fetish!

If she ignored my polite request or refused to move it, I would have commented loudly that she was resting her bare foot on my armrest and made a joke about it. When a smile doesn’t work, social embarrassm­ent often does.

It happened to me while travelling with my three children. The woman had put her foot on the armrest between two of them. I stood up, started to speak to her. She ignored me, and kept on talking to her companion. I said “Move your foot.” She just smirked. My 4year-old took matters into his own hands, which contained a pencil. He jabbed her. We never saw that foot again.

This happened to me, too. I jammed the newspaper between my window seat and the wall of the plane.

The shoeless young man sitting behind me with his smelly feet planted near the armrest of my seat got the message.

The same thing happened to my brother and me on a long flight. A middle-aged woman (dressed smartly) reclined her seat and first rested her foot on the top of my chair.

I asked her to move it. I just got a blank stare of indifferen­ce and she moved it down to the armrest between my brother and me.

I elbowed her sweaty foot off the first time. And gave it a good poke the second and third time. It took three tries before she realized I wasn’t going to let it slide. No apologies,

no acknowledg­ement.

Here’s the scoop on my response: I covered part of the large and dirty foot (which reached several inches along my outside arm rest) with the airplane blanket, then placed my elbow against it enough for her to feel the pressure and recognize my awareness.

I didn’t speak to her, because this woman had been sighing and moaning to her partner whenever I put my chair back to rest, on the long overseas flight ( just as she could have done). She removed her foot. Had she had a medical need for a raised leg, she could have said so, and I would have accommodat­ed her, but requested she wear a sock or her blanket around it. Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Email See ellieadvic­ Ellie hosts Outlaw Inlaws on Slice TV.

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