Monday, November 30, 2015         


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Objecting to a flier's hairiness is petty

By McClatchy News Services


Question: I was boarding a flight from Fort Myers, Fla., to White Plains, N.Y., and was appalled to notice a heavyset man -- who happened to be quite hairy -- boarding while wearing a sleeveless T-shirt. I said a prayer that we weren't seatmates, and, indeed, we weren't. You can imagine my panic, upon boarding my return flight several days later, when I saw him again in the same attire. Would I have been out of line to request a seat change and/or request the man put a blanket over his shoulders? It seems so petty -- but is there no common sense?

Answer: If a passenger is big enough to take up some of your space, then you can request a seat change. However, this has nothing to do with body hair or the fact that sleeveless shirts are best saved for the gym -- it's just about you getting the amount of space you paid for. Obviously, you would want to do this discreetly by speaking to a flight attendant at the front or rear of the cabin instead of calling one to your seat. Objecting to someone's body hair, however, seems a trifle petty, and asking a stranger to put a blanket over his shoulders would be rude. If you didn't want to have his hairy arm touch yours, you could have draped a blanket over your own arm.

Question: Your column about travel karma made me think of this story. When my wife and I were dating, she lived on a well-traveled but curving two-lane road. The road sported double yellow no-passing stripes, and the speed limit was appropriately low.

Once, on the way to pick her up, I saw a police car, tucked back into a driveway. As we returned along that road a few minutes later, a man in a small red sports car aggressively tailgated me. I was careful to stick to the speed limit.

When we approached the place I had noticed the police car earlier, I put on my turn signal and pulled onto the right shoulder. He gunned his car, pulled around me and was out of sight in seconds. Until he passed the police car: Mr. "I'm in a hurry, get out of my way" got pulled over. We resisted the temptation to honk and wave at him as we went by.

Answer: Let's hear it for sweet driving karma.

Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at

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