Photo of 'entitled' Qantas passenger reignites age-old debate

Arguments over the use of plane seat armrests are a common occurrence. So what would you do?

Heated debate has erupted online after one Aussie traveller posted a mid-flight snap of a "bloke who assumed he was entitled to two armrests".

Well-known Australian publisher Louise Adler, who jokingly referred to herself as a "cranky Karen" in the post, uploaded the image of a man in tradie workwear using both armrests available, on what appears to be a regional QantasLink flight.

The topic of armrest use on flights — particularly on domestic travel — always attracts controversy, and it seems this instance is no different, with people on both sides of the argument flooding the comments with their opposing views.

'Cranky Karen' incites debate

"Asking for a friend: Why do blokes assume they are entitled to two armrests? #CrankyKaren," Ms Adler captioned her post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

A man is seen using both armrests onboard a domestic flight, beside a stock image of a plane window.
Aussie writer Louise Adler's post has attracted heated debate. Source: X/ Getty.

While many shared Ms Adler's stance, citing what they say is "typical" male behaviour, others questioned while she didn't simply ask the man to remove his arm.

"Presumably the same reason as they feel entitled to spread their legs on the train taking up half the next seat’s leg space?" one woman, who empathised with Ms Adler, wrote in response.

"Just the sight of this makes my blood boil. Hot coffee?" another woman said.

"I have paid close attention. If I sit next to a guy, this almost always happens (plus taking up my leg space), if I travel with my husband and he sits next to another guy it never happens to him. They know how to respect each other's space, but not women's," wrote a third.

Not a gender issue, say others

Weighing in on the debate, a number of other users sided with the man.

"Why do women just whinge on social media instead of speaking up?" a woman wrote. "Not to defend him as such, but I bet he never even realised he was doing this because the thought never crossed his mind and he may never have been told he does this," a man said.

"I’ve seen women and men use two armrests. Children too. Hope that puts your stereotype to rest," said another. "There’s no gender bias when it comes to arm rests on a plane. First come first served. You snooze you lose," a man wrote.

Sharing a different view entirely, one man cited what he says are plane "rules".

"Great question! The rules are — if you’re in the middle, you get both armrests. Aisle and window are better seats, so they only get one arm rest. Anyone that doesn’t follow these rules are a menace to society, male, female or other," he said.

Flight attendant settles debate

A Qantas flight attendant, with more than 30 years experience with the company, previously told Yahoo News Australia armrests were in fact “shared spaces”.

“Nobody has ownership over an armrest. They are a mutual space,” she said. “There are four armrests shared between three seats.”

The flight attendant said while the onboard crew were well trained in trying to diffuse any seat disagreements, there wasn’t any official protocol revealed during training that states a passenger can be designated a set amount of armrests.

“If the plane is packed they have to just share, but if there were spare seats, [flight attendants] would move passengers around to give everyone as much space as possible,” she said.

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