who’s in the seat before me?

Whenever I'm on a plane, I often wonder: who sat my seat before me.

Was it some dude about to do a business deal or a fall actress leaving her fourth husband or someone who just pulled himself out of poverty and flew for the first time?

Sometimes you get some clues. Like a boarding pass left behind in the seat pocket or a crumpled pretzel in the seat crevice.
And of course, you can often determine the raw size of your prior seat-soul-mate by the seat belt adjustment when you arrive (one thing I've noticed is that big people are much more likely to be in the exit row).

After spending time thinking about who came before me, I started wondering who might occupy my seat after me. There are, of course, almost no clues … especially when one doesn't know where the plane is headed next.

So … I do what I am sure every curious jetsetter does, I leave short notes for my future seat-soul-mate. Of course, there is an art to leaving a note … you need to fold it just right. And you need to disguise it just enough for the rapid cleaning crew to pass over it but you cannot make the note so inconspicuous that the next person will never find it.

I'll usually say something like:

Just wanted to let you know that the last person in this seat wishes you a great flight. He cleaned it thoroughly when leaving. Also — if given a choice between peanuts and cookies, take the cookies. They are exquisite.

Have a wonderful flight,

Your prior-seat-soul-mate

p.s. in case you are wondering, I do not have a cold or any contagious diseases

9 thoughts on “who’s in the seat before me?

  1. dina

    Love it – it’s like leaving a note on a dollar bill (as per Serendipity). Wonder if you travel enough, and ask around enough, if you’ll find someone who has read one of your notes over the years.

  2. Ryan Graves

    This is a great little exercise. I really think there is value in doing little experiments like this. People are the most important part of life and the small things keep us grounded.
    Nice work. I’m definitely doing this on my flight tomorrow night.

  3. Patricia

    How long have you been flying? How long have you been leaving notes around?
    I ask solely b/c my father was a manager for an airline and told me about such a “note”.
    A business card is better suited if you are so desperate for connectivity.
    As I found I was using my business card as a bookmark, left said book on plane, and my seat “mate” was a nice woman from England and found it contacted me to tell me she loved the book too. I haven’t met her but she was kind enough to return the book to the library for me.

  4. Nick Baum

    Great idea! Where do you hide it? In the “movies” section of the in-flight entertainment magazine seems like a good place.
    Krista suggested an expansion on this idea: leave a larger guest book page, with a self-addressed envelope.

  5. Keenan

    Classic!!!! Truly Classic!
    What originally triggered the idea? What made you say “Hey, I think I’ll leave a note?”

  6. Ajlouny

    This is great. I will leave a note next time I take a flight too. It’s like a little nice surprise for the next to share my seat.

  7. elaine

    That is wonderful and I wish I would be delightful to receive a note like that when I squeeze in those seats every time. All I can think of is the person before or after me wouldn’t need to go through the same painful experience as me — sitting next to super-sized people who usually take up 25% of my space. I will start to celebrate the tradition of leaving a note when airlines finally charge people by sizes or giving refund to small people like me.


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