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Miss Manners: Flight passenger next to me won’t properly wear his mask

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: Shortly after boarding my flight today, I noticed that the passenger sitting next to me had his mask below his nose. In a very polite tone, I asked him, “Would you please put your mask over your nose?”

He responded that masks are “ineffective,” to which I replied, again in a perfectly civil tone, “Science says otherwise, so we’ll have to agree to disagree.”

He grumbled, pulled his mask up, and typed a message on his phone, in very large font, that he was sitting next to a “mask Nazi” and a “(misogynist [expletive]).”

From the size of the font and angle at which he held his phone, I guessed that he wanted me to see the messages, but, as I have young children, I recognized this outburst for what it was: an immature and guilty reaction to being caught doing something one shouldn't do. I declined the bait and opened my book.

Later during the flight, he again let his mask fall below his nose.

What might Miss Manners do in such a situation? Ask the neighbor again? If so, how? Should one ring the flight attendant to request their intervention? Should one ask to be seated elsewhere?

If one can. At the very least, you may make a show of it to the flight attendant by asking: “Is it possible for me to change seats? I do not wish to police this gentleman, but I do not feel safe with his mask improperly fitted.”

At which point, the flight attendant will probably scold him for you, and possibly even reseat you. Miss Manners is afraid that you may still have to endure his childish complaints that you told on him. But at least you will do so from a safer distance.

[Find the latest coronavirus guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.]

Dear Miss Manners: My husband, myself and another couple went out for dinner last summer. We were in a tourist destination, at the beginning of what we have come to call “supply chain issues.” The restaurant was busy and no one had thought to make reservations, so we had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated.

Soon, after we were seated and our server was taking our orders, it became clear that one of our party was deeply unhappy with the menu items available; there were some items that had just been exhausted. The unhappy party then vented at the server, saying that “more buffalo should have been ordered,” and demanding to know why it hadn’t.

We were so embarrassed that I felt like leaving. What is the best way for bystanders to react in this situation? I have never witnessed anything like this in my dining experience.

Treat this person as you would a child having a tantrum: with an apologetic look to the server and, if possible, a swift removal of the complainant.

Miss Manners suggests you offer to take the offender outside, saying, “I know this is disappointing. Perhaps you need a moment to compose yourself?” And then pad the server’s tip.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin