One of the worst things ever is being on a plane with open seating, and having someone walk up and look at you and the open middle seat next to you and say, May I sit there? It's not like they are really asking your permission; they know their rights as a passenger. It's all up to you.
Now some people are blatant. They put a coat on the seat, a bag, make it look like someone is already sitting there. This is the passive aggressive approach. I don't like this one because it's a little lame and when the plane starts to fill up, it makes the other passenger feel bad to have to ask.
I prefer a much more direct approach. It's ALL in the attitude.
There are a couple ways to do this, and some require more work than others.
- Angry. Just look really pissed off. Avoid eye contact. Tap the plane window. Get in a pretend conversation on your phone with someone and make it sound very tense. "You have GOT to be kidding me. This deal is OVER. I will make sure it's OVER. Tell Clooney he'll never work again" NO ONE wants to sit by you.
- Crazy. Look people straight in the eye. Ask them to sit next to you, over and over again. Act like you want to get to know them and are looking forward to it! Might not work as well as angry because some people thrive on this, but I think it has potential.
- Avoidance. Head down, reading a book. Everything will interrupt you. Nothing is worth you stopping reading your book. When you do look up, it is with a stare that says "what's your problem"
- Talkative. Get into a conversation on your phone. Talk about your mother in law, your cat, your dog, your life in general. Be loud. Make sure everyone around you knows about your life too. Be slightly controversial - bring up abortion (50/50 chance it's a problem); then gun control (20/80), you get the idea
- OMG. Bring onboard the smelliest food you can find. Tuna, salmon, onions, wings. Dig in while boarding is going on. Be sure to smear some food on your face and make sure your fingers are covered in sauce. Offer it to your neighbors.
- Fragrant. This is not one I would use because it goes against my principles as a traveler. But load up on perfume, aftershave, you get the picture. People will RUN AWAY.
This is my best advice. Try out a few of them and see which one best works for you, and remember, an empty middle seat at the very least increases your room by 50% and maybe more!