my fault I got hit by in-flight beverge cart?
August 6, 2014 9:54 AM   Subscribe

It is reasonable to assume that, while sitting on an aisle seat on a flight, if I have a body part in the aisle, it is "fair game" for attendants pushing the beverage cart to hit it?

I know elbows, shoulders etc. get bumped by attendants themselves... I try to stay out of their way, but on a recent U.S. flight I had my leg crossed with my foot up "across the line" a few inches into the aisle space - when an attendant was, somewhat quickly, pushing the cart down the aisle from behind. It hit my foot against the metal frame of the seat in front of me (metal cart-foot-metal frame.) I loudly said, "Ow!" - the attendant kept on rolling, not hearing me or ignoring me. It smarted for some mins. A lawyer-friend said: yeah, if you're out there, it's not unreasonable to assume you're going to get tagged etc. So- yay 'lesson learned'.. I suppose-- but it seems more reasonable for attendants, who regularly handle carts, to give a 'heads-up' warning if passengers stand to be munched/ happen to be 'in their way' ... or maybe that is unreasonable? Are there rules? rules of etiquette? regarding this kind of situation?
posted by mrmarley to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, the rule is keep your body parts out of the aisle.
posted by wintersweet at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2014 [47 favorites]

They cannot always see, especially if you are only a very little bit out into the aisle. I always figured it was the risk I took, though it isn't like it's a surprise that the cart is coming down. The attendant should have apologised, but otherwise it's on you.
posted by jeather at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, it is reasonable. The aisles are narrow. Keep your body parts out of the aisle.
posted by dfriedman at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, they can't see whether your feet are in the aisle from their position pushing the carts, and they have hundreds of people to serve in a very limited time, so can't be gingerly walking down the aisle. Your responsibility for sure.
posted by brainmouse at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

They might not have seen it. Those carts fit EXACTLY in the aisle; it's not like they can go around you. I think body parts in the airplane aisle is like leaving your car parked on the plow side of the street during plow days -- it's nice to get a heads-up, but by no means required, and every time you do get a heads up you should treat it as a precious gift.
posted by KathrynT at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

They're not always going to be able to see your feet due to their height + size of the cart. It'd certainly be nice for them to give a warning (and I have seen that happen on plenty of flights), but I would rather not risk my feet on the chance somebody's either too short to see things on the floor over the cart, or that they're just having a not-very-alert day. Try to stay out of the aisle, just like you try to stay out of other people's space.
posted by asperity at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Usually, in my experience, flight attendants DO say "excuse me" as they come down the aisle, but not always, and passengers should not rely on this. There's a lot going on in the aisle, from toddlers to bathroom-rushers, and it needs to be kept clear.)
posted by wintersweet at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, it is your fault. Yes, it is reasonable to assume that you might get bumped. Cars have big windshields, and headlights, but if I sit with my legs laying in the street, something ouchy might happen to them and it'd be my fault!
posted by destructive cactus at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, it is reasonable. If one wanted to get nitpicky about this with the airline, I assume they would say that their announcement that beverage service is beginning qualifies as notifying you that carts are going to be rolling around the aisles, and they are not required to give you a moment-by-moment forecast of when the cart is going to roll by your particular seat.

I feel your pain on this one - I'm a large, tall woman and chances are some part of me is sticking out in the aisle at any given moment in time. But I accept the occasional bump from a cart or person as the price of the extra leg/elbow room.
posted by Stacey at 10:08 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Consider how high those carts are. If you've ever had to push one of those AV carts with a TV or monitor on it, or navigate a store with a big box in a shopping cart, you know how limited your line of sight is.

I have huge shoulders and FA's do try to give me fair warning, but if I lean at the wrong moment they're not going to realize I'm out there.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:08 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm also the sort of person whom this happens to all the time in the course of air travel and I'm sure it was unintentional and that the attendant would have apologized under optimal conditions (realized they'd done it, wasn't concentrating on twelve other things simultaneously, etc.) Maybe the flight attendant heard you but felt that the best they could do was not engage; right or wrong, loudly saying "Ow!" might seem like a potential passive-aggressive attempt to initiate a confrontation to him or her which might lead to more disruption and hurt feelings, rather than make things better, as well as delay everyone else getting refreshments. In any case, it does seem like the genteel thing would be to let it go, if there isn't any injury involved.
posted by XMLicious at 10:10 AM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

my fault I got hit by in-flight beverge cart?

You are eager to assign blame, be it yours or the flight attendants. But when you stick a hundred+ people in a confined space for several hours, incidents are bound to happen.

Just keep your body parts of the aisle , let it go and chalk it up to lesson learned.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2014 [18 favorites]

Developing a preference for the window seat could solve this.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you think about it flight attendents are constantly bumped by people who are out in the aisle. You got bumped once painfully. They get jostled for their entire shift.
posted by srboisvert at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think it might actually be easier for you to realise that the cart is coming, even from behind you, than it is for the attendant to see your body part protruding into the aisle. Unless your leg was waaay out there.

But I can also quite see the possibility of an attendant being SO sick of negotiating the protruding bits of oblivious passengers that they might sort of hit one, accidentally on purpose.

Or maybe it had just been a long shift/week and the attendant was oblivious.

In any case, people are clumsy/blind/oblivious/grouchy and accidents happen when clumsy/oblivious/grouchy people interact. Probably more so when squished together in a small space. I would just let it go. And keep your body parts tucked in next time.
posted by pootler at 10:31 AM on August 6, 2014

I would not consider this time to lawyer up but in general etiquette would require a "oh excuse me" beforehand or an "I'm sorry" afterwards, unless a) they didn't see you or hear you, or b) you're a passenger from hell and they'd just decided to ignore any utterances from your person.

Be nice to your secretaries and flight attendants, folks, they know where the booze is hidden.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:41 AM on August 6, 2014

A quick scan of LexisNexis suggests that there have been a great many lawsuits against airlines for injuries caused by carts. Some aviation attorneys list "knee injuries by carts" as the first item on their list of case types.
posted by Lame_username at 11:02 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Accidents happen. I doubt it was some sort of aggression against aisle wondering feet.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:08 AM on August 6, 2014

but it seems more reasonable for attendants, who regularly handle carts, to give a 'heads-up' warning if passengers stand to be munched/ happen to be 'in their way' ... or maybe that is unreasonable?

I think that is an unreasonable expectation. As others have noted, the flight attendant pushing the cart often can't see far enough ahead to see that someone has stuck his/her body parts into the aisle. Therefore, they'd have to loudly (since the "white noise" in flight makes planes loud to begin with) warn passengers everytime they moved the cart.

As someone who knows enough to keep my body parts out of the aisle, and who prefers not to have someone constantly shouting "coming through!" while I'm trying to read or zone out, I'd much prefer that no warnings be made.

Sure, an apology would be nice, but it's not her fault she didn't hear you.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:14 PM on August 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

The flight attendant is there primarily to save your life in an emergency, serving you a beverage is a courtesy.

I've never been on a flight when they didn't give a heads up over the PA similar to, "We will begin our in-flight beverage service, please be sure you give room for the cart to pass."

It's really hard to not ooze into the aisle, those seats are small and we're all smushed in like sardines. Be aware in the future.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:39 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

They can't see your foot. But, you didn't see her coming either and nobody could fault you for having your foot five inches out of your Zone of Seat. So it's nobody's "fault", just an accident.

Ugh, flying.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:05 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure I would be so eager to say "it's your fault" as some of the answerers seem to be. Ultimately, it's the airline's fault for stacking people practically on top of one another like prisoners. Blame corporate america.
posted by paultopia at 4:30 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would take this as an indication that your attempts to bargain (K├╝bler-Ross stage) with ever-smaller legroom standards are not working, and you need to have a better strategy. For example, the seats at the beginning of a section, where there's a wall in front, have been considered a good place for those with greater needs in the torso-and-down department. There are people who obsessively identify the plane they will be flying on in advance and look up the seat configuration so they can maximize their chances of not getting a cramp or a bang or an awkward limb/stranger encounter.

I haven't been on a plane in years, but if I were flying today this is something I would do.
posted by dhartung at 10:47 PM on August 6, 2014

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