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7 Strategies for Regaining Personal Space, as "Manspreader" Goes Viral

Twitter users step up to help a passenger deal with a "manspreader."

Travel etiquette is always a topic of conservation on social media, so when a Twitter user who goes by Neena Jha shared a photo of a male passenger's leg almost on top of hers, the platform was quick to offer advice. "UGH!! Sat next to a really selfish guy who refuses to move his leg from my space," Jha wrote alongside an angry-face emoji, and asked if it would be rude "to casually kick his leg away?!" Twitter users had plenty of solutions for how to deal with people invading your personal space and helped encourage Jha to stand up for herself. 

Confront Passenger Directly with Cheeky Response


Since Jha asked for advice on handling the situation, users didn't hold back. One person suggested a "calm and polite" approach in a sarcastic way. "Whilst I appreciate that some may crave the annexation of their personal space by a random half naked leg, I prefer the freedom of uninhibited movement that comes with a desire to kick my presumptuous neighbour in his rapidly encroaching bollocks. Ta."

Have Coughing Fit


Another stated the passenger knew what he was doing and his entitled behavior needed to be stopped. "He knows what he's doing… Social conditioning and his need to exert dominance through physical posture. Basically just being entitled. Not sure what the solution is apart from what you did in return (coughing fit? loud whistling? whoopee cushion? Spilling food/drink?)"  Jha responded, "He definitely had an attitude as soon as I sat down. There was no asking/ apology from his part. Would've happily given him my leg space if he had just asked me." 

Step on His Foot


A woman who shared that she used to be a "frequent flier" said the same thing would happen to her. " Lots of people with zero regard for others. And I have "accidentally" stepped on their feet before. Passive-aggressive? I prefer to think of it as a strong hint for them to assess their behavior."

Swap Seats


Many people suggested that Jha ask the man to trade seats with her if he didn't have enough space. One user wrote, "I would politely ask him to move it, or maybe asked if he wanted to swap seats if he didn't have enough leg room. Then he could use the aisle. Of course he shouldn't have needed to be asked, manners aren't what they used to be." But others didn't agree. One woman stated, "The number of people checking if you "asked politely"…you shouldn't have to!? Noone should be in your personal space. If he needed the leg room, he should have said something or bought an aisle seat."

Put the Tray Table Down


Another person added a trick they've done before–keep the tray table down. "Mmm I had my problem like that in a flight but after I pull [it] done my tray problem [was] solved. I keep that tray down all the flight for holding my iPad. I also don't want to ask him , some people get aggressive. I don't need that in a 6 hrs flight." 

Move It!

Passengers on plane

One traveler explained how they handled a pesky passenger who wouldn't move his belongings from their space. "I once got to my airline seat and the guy next to me had one of his bags in my leg room under the seat in front of me. I asked him to move it and he got aggressive. I politely picked the bag up and put it on his lap. What's he gonna do?"

Wax His Leg


Many people were creative with their suggestions on how to prevent people from taking over your personal space. One person commented, "Just start waxing it.. he will soon move."

What Jha Did to Get the Man to Leave


After considering all the advice she received, Jha did a follow up Tweet sharing that she stretched out her legs and he moved. I just stretched my legs out & he's left in a huff!!  What a win."

Jha's Favorite Advice from Twitter


After the incident was over, Jha took to Twitter to thank people for so much support. 

"Gosh thank you all so much for all the advice! I'm so awful at speaking up & standing up for myself, definitely need to work on that…." She added, "My fave suggestion was casually pulling out one leg hair of his at a time with a pair of tweezers. Priceless." 


Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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