Q. I wonder if you could turn your mind to a distressing problem affecting those of us confined to the pleb class of aircraft and not in a financial position to nibble canapés up front with the co-pilot. What does one do when the...person in front unilaterally decides to press the button entitling him or her to some hours of snore-laden sleep and you to a lapful of coffee? I’ve just come back from a (delightful) trip to New Zealand with stopovers in Hong Kong, and it happened four times. I’m too polite to pretend that my coffee has shot into the air and landed on the back of their neck.
J.B., London N1
A. Respond by leaning forward immediately, and before the offender has nodded off, to ask, concernedly, is he or she is all right? Explain that their chair came back with such force you suspect it may be broken and may collapse fully while they are asleep. Would they like you to call the stewardess? Wear an anxious facial expression. In this way you will get the message across.