Can you request to only be seated next to a woman on a flight?

Can you request to only be seated next to a woman on your flight? You can try.
Can you request to only be seated next to a woman on your flight? You can try. Photo: Alamy

IS IT POSSIBLE TO  ASK  AT THE CHECK-IN DESK TO SIT NEXT TO A WOMAN? I AM A  FEMALE TRAVELLER AND MALE PASSENGERS TEND TO INVADE MY  PERSONAL SPACE ON AIRLINES.  MEN  SIT WITH ARMS AND LEGS SPREAD WIDE AND DON'T CARE IF THEY ARE RESTING ON ME, WHICH I FIND CREEPY. (APOLOGIES TO THE POLITE MEN OUT THERE.)

- S. TURNBULL, CASTLEMAINE

Any airline would tell you your seat is allocated by computer, and passenger size, gender, age and the likelihood of random space invasions are not factors that determine who sits next to you.

Tropical bliss in the Cocos Islands.
Tropical bliss in the Cocos Islands. 

If passengers were allowed to choose, you might sashay up to the check-in desk and say,   for example,  "See that hunky George Clooney/Brad Pitt/Justin Bieber lookalike, how about putting me in the next seat?".

This could cause  distress to other passengers who might have waited all their life to sit next to a celebrity doppelganger.

However, most check-in staff are women and probably sympathise with your request and it wouldn't hurt to ask.  Next time I am seated beside a woman, I shall be polite and proper at all times, shall not hog the armrest and certainly not allow my head to loll on to her shoulder if I nod off, that's a promise!

MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE NEW YORK AS  THE NO.1 DESTINATION ON OUR BUCKET LIST. WE WOULD BE TRAVELLING WITH TWO YOUNG CHILDREN (TWO AND FOUR). WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR? ATTRACTION SUGGESTIONS WOULD ALSO BE APPRECIATED AND THEY DON'T ALL NEED TO BE CHILD FOCUSED.

- B. GORDON, FORESTVILLE

Are you sure about this? Our first rule for travelling with small children was make them happy, and sweetness will follow.

Happy kids, happy hols.

The problem is New York City is not really a thrilling prospect for those who would rather be sprawled on the floor sucking Vegemite soldiers while watching Shaun the Sheep. NYC is noisy subway trips and Broadway shows, Woody Allen and hours schlepping around MOMA and table-sharing in crowded restaurants with people who make surprising revelations about their private life, and these are not experiences that bring delight to small beings. NYC does not do children well.

People in Manhattan probably do have children but I have no idea what they do with them, although you do see a few in F.A.O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue.

The jet lag alone will play havoc with any plans you might have. Your bucket list is years away. If you want a great holiday with yourkids, book into a resort in Balior Thailand with a nice pool. Enjoy your children's childhood while it lasts, it's not for long. In themeantime, get down on the floor with them, bounce them on your tummy and watch Shaun the Sheep together.

ANY INFO ON CHEAP FLIGHTS AND HOTELS IN THE COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS? AM ALSO OPEN TO ANY OTHER GOOD TIPS FOR THESE ISLANDS.  I AM LOOKING FOR A 50TH BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR MY HUSBAND AND THIS HAS BEEN HIS DREAM.

- K. KROEBEN, LANE COVE

This is a birthday present he won't forget in a long time. These 27 low-lying islands plonked down in the Indian Ocean 2750 kilometres north-west of Perth, and much closer to Indonesia than they are to Australia, are the stuff of paradise.

The coral reefs that surround the islands offer exceptional diving and snorkelling and the fishing is five-star. Manta rays, reef sharks and dugongs are abundant, and the tropical marine life comes in colours that would shame the Tour de France peloton. 

The islands are also a temporary haven for exotic bird species in their trans-oceanic migrations.  Only two of the islands are inhabited, mostly by Australians of Malay origin, descendants of  workers imported by the Clunies-Ross family to work their coconut plantation when they operated the islands as a fiefdom.

Only inaccessibility stops the Cocos (Keeling) Islands from being overrun by tourists. Best time to visit is between April and November. Virgin operates flights every Saturday from Perth via Christmas Island. You should contact the Perth office of Island Explorer Holidays (islandexplorer.com.au),  which  can take care of all your flights, accommodation and tours.


CONVERSATION OVER TO YOU ...

"Has a movie or TV show ever stoked your wanderlust? If so, did it live up to expectations?"

K. Hickey writes,  "In my 20s, my favourite movie was A Room with a View so I travelled to Florence and ... I would search out all the landmarks from  the movie. It was wonderful."

According to D. Hinton, "In the Danish crime series The Eagle, the  eerie  landscape intrigued me. When I saw the chance to join a knitting tour of Iceland I didn't hesitate. It was fabulous."

"Halfway through The Way I made a promise to myself to do part of the Camino," writes N. Gove. "I booked that evening and did it two months later. At my age, 75, it was the thrill of a lifetime."

According to M. Summers, "When I saw the black comedy In Bruges I just had to go. Bruges lived up to all my expectations but the big plus was discovering Belgium itself."

"I fell in love with Lyme Regis when I watched The French Lieutenant's Woman, back in the 1980s," writes J. Sullivan. "It is a charming setting to explore."

H. Lewsley writes "My husband and I thought Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong was great, so we made a three-week trip to Myanmar last December  ...  it was  all that the programme showed."

SEND US YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS
Include your name and  your suburb or town and send it to tripologist@fairfaxmedia.com.au.  Questions appearing in print will be answered. All published questions will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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