For many, the joys of travel include the opportunity to meet to new people. Thanks to assigned seating, you will not always have the choice as to whom you may sit with. That long haul flight could see time fly should you be lucky to be seated beside someone who is witty and entertaining. Taking that first step in getting to know your seat buddy can be rewarding.

I usually try to exchange some pleasantries to see whether a conversation starts that I’m actually interested in. I don’t start with the assumption that everyone is a terrible bore.

But what if the seat computer is not so kind? What would you do if you found yourself next to someone who is not exactly the kind of person you may like? Someone who wants to engage in a conversation, when all you want is to climb back into your shell. Regardless of how interesting a person may be, we all have times when we all need a bit of “me” time. And often airline travel can be a good place to enjoy that time. You have an excuse to not take phone calls or interact with the normal circle of friends and family. Our members have some interesting hints and actions to help get the message across.

When I travel as soon as I sit down headphones go on, Qantas magazine comes out. Travelled with a friend once who was amazed how I travel. After a few flights he was like. I’ll see you in BNE. Not a stranger but still avoided small talk. It’s just how I travel. I’m in my own world / zone.

I find getting engrossed in a good book or magazine helps. And saying ‘I beg your pardon?’ each time they speak to me so they have to repeat what they said. They soon get the hint without me being rude.

While a good book or magazine can be rewarding, there are also times when you could be missing out on something by not having a conversation with your seat buddy. Unexpected experiences and opportunities are there to be had on occasion. For some, it all depends on the time of day, and the destination.

I can be a chatter, but for me it depends on the time of day, and where I’m heading. Long haul, I’d like to have a quick chat (especially in Y) as it might help later when I need to get up etc, but Friday 5pm flight SYD-MEL…leave me alone! I’ve had some interesting chats over my time, even got offered a job interview the following week.

Do you have a rule when it comes to striking up a conversation on flights, perhaps long haul or short haul only, or are you generally open to a conversation in the interest of seeing where it might lead? Perhaps you have found an effective and polite way of turning off the conversation tap when the need arises, why not share your experiences HERE.

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