Pestered by a Peculiar Seatmate

March 9, 2014

in Weird People Stories

This happened in 2012, on a flight from Jakarta to Dubai where I changed flight to JFK. Hell happened in the first leg on a Boeing 747-300ER. Because of the plane configuration, several seats in the back were 2-4-2 instead of 3-4-3. I chose the two-seats row, sitting by the aisle.

My seatmate came, an old man in traditional Arabic costume. I stood up to give way and politely let him settle. Flight was airborne. I watched the movies, as I didn’t want to be disturbed. Unfortunately for me, he kept on tapping on my shoulder, asking different kinds of questions each time. Note that he did not speak English, so we “spoke” with signs. Bla bla bla (asking how to turn the screen on) bla bla bla (asking how to recline) bla bla bla (asking how to turn the screen off) and so on.

I thought: this is hell! I had to pause my movies every now and then. But I felt like helping him should not be a difficult thing for me to do. That was why I helped him. Little did I know that hell was just about to start. At some point he pulled up the hand rest and placed his left leg so it leaned against mine. I slid my legs away towards the aisle and put the hand rest down, giving a polite smile.

Then the stewardess started passing out hot towels. Aah, this should be refreshing, right? But no, my seatmate tapped my shoulder and tried to wipe my face with his towel. I instinctively tackled him with my hand. At this point I can no longer tolerate this guy. So I scouted for an empty seat. Found one, but with a broken TV. Pfft, harassment or no TV?

I chose going back to my original seat and tried talking to the guy. I said in English, slowly and with hand gestures, “I DONT WANT TO BE TOUCHED. YOU STAY IN YOUR SEAT. I STAY IN MINE.” After 3 minutes repeating that sentence, with various gestures that made me look like I’m a kindergarten teacher teaching English, I sat back.

About 15 mins and all was well. I was proud of myself, thinking that I solved everything amicably. Then the guy stood up and went to take his bag in the overhead compartment. I gave way and within minutes we were back in our positions, sitting nicely. Until he called me. I pretended that I did not hear him. BIG MISTAKE. He suddenly touched my right cheek with his hand. I looked at him furiously, and before I knew it he was spraying some exotic liquid (traditional herbs? I didn’t know) and it smelled, terribly! My scarf and my hair smelled like unknown herbs or whatever the liquid was made from! Disgusting!

At this point I knew there was nothing else I could do. I could not chance whatever this guy had in mind. So there I was, speaking to the FA to move me to that empty seat with a broken TV. Serenity, at last.

– Pmulia

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

RedHead0186 March 11, 2014 at 11:24 am

Ugh, that sounds horrible! I would have been super annoyed, too, if he kept touching me.

Did you try bringing it to the attention of the flight attendant at all? Perhaps she could have better communicated to this guy (or at least maybe he would have listened to her), or maybe she could have relocated him?

I mean, hindsight's 50/50 sure, but would have been worth a try, perhaps. Either way, I'm sorry you had to put up with that and I admire your restraint, I probably would have punched him if he kept doing that, lol


pmulia March 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm

As it happened, there were moments where I imagined myself punching, yelling at him. However, I didn’t want drama. I was going to have one night transit in Dubai and I feel overly paranoid if I caused a scene. Haha, too much watching Hollywood action movies, perhaps! Lol

Anw, I did raise this to the FA who relocated me to one and only empty seat. Broken tv but peace and serenity is priceless! Purser also came and talked to me. So, good service from Emirates.


Reader March 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

Sorry this happened to you but glad you did bring it to the attentino of the flight crew. They should have moved the other guy, especially when the only empty seat had a broken TV.


Michael L.S. January 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm

That's Arab/Moslem men for you: They think Western women are all promiscuous harlots and completely fair game. (And I speak as someone with more than a decade's worth of experience living in several Near Eastern states.)


Maggie May 13, 2015 at 1:18 am

Ew, creepy. In America, I believe touching someone unwantedly constitutes assault, in the legal definition of the word…


Barney August 14, 2016 at 5:31 pm

sorry but I don't mean to be picky but did you mean a 777-300ER as that is the main plane that Emirates operates along with the A380-800


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