A few months ago I (26M) was alone on a long flight, ~6 hours. I had a middle seat between a young woman (20sF) in the window seat, and a woman (30sF) on the aisle. I'm tall and am never comfortable on planes.
My knees always dig into the seat in front and it can be quite painful. I usually try to take a walk around the airport before flights to stretch my legs, but neglected to this time. It was Spirit airlines so even less legroom than usual.
About half an hour after takeoff I found my left knee inching to the side for the sweet relief of open space -- specifically, the no-man's-land in between seats, level with the shared armrest. But I wasn't paying attention to my knee the entire time.
I'll concede it's possible that at some point I was occupying space that rightfully belonged to my window seat neighbor. All was well for ~2 hours. At this point, the woman in the window seat called over the flight attendant.
She asked her something like 'Could you tell him to keep his ****ing leg in his own ****ing seat.' With horror, I understood she was talking about me. I instantly retracted my leg in deep shame.
I had been shocked into silence, but when the FA left I frantically began to apologize. But she refused to speak to me. She acted like she didn't hear me. Instead she started furiously texting on her phone (yeah, texting during a flight. I thought it was weird too). Aisle Seat woman said she had some extra space on her side I could use, but then promptly went to sleep. Oh well.
I tried again to apologize to Window Seat woman, but again she ignored me. I went from embarrassed to confused. I kept replaying it in my head, wondering why she didn't simply ask me to move my knee instead of calling over the attendant.
I started sneaking peeks at her phone. My defense is that I was baffled by her behavior and wanted answers. I'll admit that I was being judgmental, too. Here's why: she spent the last 3 hours of the flight watching tiktoks about shaming obese people and texting someone she called papi.
I didn't see all of it but a significant portion was definitely about me. She ignored me the whole rest of the flight and I ignored her. I got a good but painful workout of whatever muscle it is that keeps your knees together.
Here's what people had to say to OP:
1: This is a known, reoccurring issue. You KNOW you will feel better with more leg space. Stop pinching pennies and pay for an aisle seat or an exit seat. There are options !
2. By wanting the woman to tell you if she is bothered by your invasion of her space, you make it her responsibility instead of just not doing it. women can feel too vulnerable to confront a tall guy (your own admission) by themselves especially when they are stuck at the window seat and cannot exit if the guy gets angry.
She didn’t call the attendant to tell you to move, she called her to have an authority figure to help her make a point.
3. And then there is the snooping. Seriously dude ?! You thought what ? Ho, this woman has already found me intrusive before , let’s double down ?
As a small woman, if they aren't taking up your space in general, they think it's appropriate to use you as furniture for their comfort.
I'm 6'3 and always am conscious to keep my legs in my area and get an aisle seat if possible. Sure it's uncomfortable, flying sucks, don't make it suck even more for others.
This is why she didn’t reply to OP. She wanted to be left alone before and she wanted to be left alone after making her complaint. Who doesn’t understand that if someone who is literally stuck next to you doesn’t respond after two attempts at conversation that they don’t want conversation.
She heard OP’s apology. OP wants things to be pleasant between them, as if she owes him that. Again, she just wants to be left alone
How is texting during a flight weird? I flew spirit two weeks ago and they offer wi-fi on the plane for this exact reason. That’s the least odd thing about this whole story.
YTA. Pay for extra legroom. Having some random guy pressing his leg against me is enough to make me get up from my bus or train seat because it creeps me out. I dont like being touched, and I make sure I always try to avoid it. You need to be mindful of those around you.