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Ask Michael Cohen: Mile High Club

At first, all I read was 'private, jet, single, gay' and I knew this column would pay off. That was until I read your entire question.
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I didn't know what to do when this happened and I am sure it will again considering I'm only 25. I was flying from Denver to Miami and I had a really bad experience with an overweight women sitting next to me. I had the window seat and she was in the middle and she was literally so obese that her fat was spilling into my seat. If I would have lift up the armrest I am sure it would have been a title wave and my face smashed to the side of the plane. I rang for the flight attendant to see if there was an empty seat but it was a full flight. The flight attendant was curt and didn't pick up on my verbal clues. And so I sat in my seat for hours miserable and I am angry. Future advice? Amanda, K. Denver

The visual of an angry twenty-something-year-old with your face pressed against the cabin wall made me laugh. Thanks for that. This just goes with my observation that flight attendants are better at handing out potato chips than anticipating the needs of every passenger. Even if there was a crash landing, we don't know if they would really help passengers before they help themselves. But let me not digress.

First, I do feel for overweight people. At one time in their lives they too were a normal weight until somewhere along the way life got heavy, literally. So I try and rationalize bad moments like this, but I won't.

Here's the reality: If your carry-on luggage doesn't fit in the overhead bins, you have to check it. So, I ask, if someone's ass doesn't fit in the seat, shouldn't they have to check it, twice?

You did the right thing, ask to have your seat changed, but you didn't go far enough. You should have politely excused yourself under the pretense of going to the restroom, and had a heart to heart with the flight attendant. At that point, you have done all you can do and if they really can't change your seat, well then you can write to the airline. But I have found that without proof, don't expect a free ticket. So be sure to snap a photo while your neighbor is asleep, or worse, is turned to pick a few things from the snack cart.

I recently flew from New York to Fort Lauderdale and it was a nightmare trip thanks to the family in front of me. I had chosen jetBlue because they have individual televisions and I had hoped to be entertained by a movie. The seat in front of me was occupied by a rowdy 4-year old boy who would stand up turn around and stick his tongue out at me. Even the first time wasn't cute. After that he grabbed my TV blocking my view. This continued on and off for the entire flight. I just prayed this fiasco would end and it didn't. Eventually I gave up because the passing stewardess nor the parent seemed to care. What should I do next time? Cheryl, D. New York City

This kid must be making the rounds. I recently flew from Fort Lauderdale to New York City and a spoiled brat was seated behind me, oddly enough on jetBlue. First it started with the tears and screaming upon take-off. Next it was listening to his mother's tedious answers, "That's the plane going up in sky and the sound of the big engine." I would have happily put my head phones on and let his mother babble on the entire flight, but instead the kid started kicking my seat. I turned around and saw the mother, who looked like any other friend of mine. She was reading gossip magazines, which were falling out of her Goyard tote. Giving her points for the bag, I didn't say anything. She had two kids and a big fat ring, but it appeared she was sans husband or nanny. This may have been her private hell but let me tell you something honey, it wasn't going to be mine.

The second kick jerked me and my bloody mary, and the pity party was over. I turned around and exercised my first option, relate don't hate. I politely caught the attention of the mother and told her that her son was adorable, but I have been dying to watch this Sandra Bullock movie and the kicking has to stop. It didn't.

Option two, time to tell on my fellow passenger. Twenty minutes after having rung the flight attendant bell, he came over shutting the light off before I could even tell him what I needed. He looked at the kid, not the mother, and asked him to stop kicking my seat. What?!?

Then came the final straw--mind you we are just an hour into the flight--the curly haired super-brat grabbed my headrest and pulled as hard as he could. This is when it's okay to take matters into your own hands. I dug into my bag and got out some candy. Yes, that old trick. But I must warn you this only works for short trips. It will keep the child occupied for a while, but once the sugar settles in things could get worse.

Most of the time, options one and two are enough to get things under control. However, waiting for a passing flight attendant (that's what they're called these days, Cheryl) to notice your pain is not a good strategy. Flight attendants are better suited for emergencies with the plane and passing out beverages than they are mind reading.

I have recently been dabbling in the private jet life. I'm single and I'm gay so it's not exactly like I am chartering around my family. I only invite friends with me from Cali to New York and on one trip, we went to Europe and I even take care of the food and liquor in-flight as well. Lately I feel a tad annoyed that no one has offered to chip in. What should I do? Martin, W. Los Angeles.

At first, all I read was 'private, jet, single, gay' and I knew this column would pay off. That was until I read your entire question. First, private jetting is a lot of fun. It is something that should really be enjoyed because not many people get to experience glamorous aviation. The rules here are very simple. If you invite your friends to join you navigating the friendly skies than be friendly about it. Don't ask nor expect anything back, although it wouldn't be bad if everyone graciously brought a bottle of champagne and didn't drink you out of house and plane. But then again, if you are such a macher, why are you so worried about the bar tab?

Now, here is where it changes. If you tell someone that you're flying out and they ask if they can 'grab a ride with you,' i.e. fly uninvited across country, then you have every right to ask for their share of the cost or direct them to jetBlue, where they can deal with curly haired monsters.

You can submit your questions on my website or in the comments section here.