The most popular strategy BizClass readers use to avoid unwanted conversations is to wear headphones, even if there is no music playing. They also suggested not making eye contact with the seatmate.
Perhaps the most effective way to silence the chatter would be a simple: "I'm sorry, I want to focus on my book or work." But that was the least preferred method among the most hardened, seasoned traveler.
"I have not been able to figure out which words to use to not make it sound rude," said Washington attorney Keith M. Dunn.
Instead, Dunn whips out his headset. And if the traveler still insists on talking, Dunn pulls out his CD collection of Public Enemy, Eminem and D-12.
"I guess there's something about seeing a 45-year-old white guy with this rap music that makes them think this is not exactly the kind of person I want to converse with on a trip," Dunn said.
David C. Whitman of Potomac buries his head in a newspaper or a book because "most people don't interrupt a reader," he said.
For some travelers, fake language barriers sometimes do the trick. Hector Sanchez of Rockville often glances at his talkative seatmates, smiles and, in his best, thick-Spanish accent, says, "No hablo ingles, señor." The ruse often gets Sanchez out of a pesky conversation unless, he said, his seatmate also speaks Spanish.
Question of the Week: Have you or someone you know been stopped from boarding a flight because your name was similar to a name on the government's no-fly list? If so, tell us about what happened. How long were you delayed? What did the airline tell you? How was it resolved, and what will you do differently to avoid such situations? Send your comments, along with your name and a daytime telephone number, to firstname.lastname@example.org.