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Barefoot passengers is just one of the newest problems arising on flights, according to The New York Times.
Flying shoeless is arguably the most invasive intrusion in an enclosed public space as more and more people are turning their airplane seats into the “Everyman’s bedroom.”
“Everybody on a long flight takes their shoes off now,” said David Huberman, who lives in Ashburn, Va., and flies about 20,000 miles a month for work. “And not everybody’s aware of how that smells.”
From personal gadgets to sleeping masks to wearing pajamas on a flight, passengers are getting as cozy as possible, doing anything to make a cramped flight more enjoyable.
Setha M. Low, director of the Public Space Research Groupe at the City University of New York Graduate Center, is also an environmental psychology and anthropology professor. She says what travelers do now is similar to what environmental psychologist John B. Calhoun dubbed “defensible space” in the 1940s.
“The gurus say we’re cocooning,” Professor Low said. “You take your private, personal world with you. You embody that space, you make it your own.”
The trouble is that “space” is relative from one person to the next, and what may make one person’s flight more comfortable, may make someone else’s more cramped and anxiety-ridden.
“It’s [Flying] no longer a social situation,” Professor Low said. “It’s a completely different experience. You put your headphones on and you’re in your own world.”
So, with the holidays quickly approaching, try to be more aware of those around you: Don’t grab the headrest in front of you if you get up, go easy on the perfume or cologne, ask the person behind you before reclining your seat, share armrests and speak in low voices.
And wash your feet.
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