11 APR 2017: I was on a flight from London to Malta, in the middle seat chatting with a distinguished woman in the window seat. She was telling me that she was from Dallas and was travelling to a conference for missionary workers. I asked if she was retired and she said she was, and that Steve was too. Who is Steve, I asked? She replied, “my husband, sitting on the other side of you.” I looked to my right, and Steve waved.

Apparently there is a strategy for couples to gain more space on international flights by booking the window and aisle seats and hoping for an empty middle seat.

The couple from Dallas was not so lucky, but I sure was.

I was struggling to get my laptop out of my carry-on bag, being very aware of the comedic entertainment I provided for my seatmates, as I removed item after item from what appeared to be a bottomless clown bag.

The woman beside me popped her tray down for my items as I dug deep into the bag. I handed her make-up, coloured hankies, white gloves, and a spare red nose and when I retrieved my computer she handed them all back to me to re-store.

This was a very different experience from my friend Laura who was in the middle seat on a flight with a husband and wife on either side of her. Laura’s couple acted as if she wasn’t there, talking and passing their magazines and even food across her space.

My couple was great.

The woman was charming and engaging and the man seemed happy to read his book, but when it was time to pack my under-utilized laptop back into my bag, Steve rallied, popped his tray down and said, “my turn.”

So, out came the balloon giraffe, a bulb horn and a fully loaded squirting flower (3.4 oz) all piled on Steve’s tray until they were placed back into my bag for the descent.

Laura on the other hand complained on her flight and was moved to another row, but felt that one of the partners should have been moved to the middle seat. In spite of the inconvenience they caused to a passenger they benefited from a full row to themselves.

Not my couple though. No inconvenience for us. I am pretty sure I speak for all three of us when I say that we wouldn’t have changed anything about our seating arrangements.

Except possibly the errant squirting flower, that was most unfortunate.

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Pam Stellini

Pam Stellini delivers her original spin on alternate Tuesdays in her column Without Reservations. (Formerly titled, Notes from A Broad)

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