Woman Backed for Changing Seats Away From 'Creepy' Autistic Man Mid-Flight

A female plane passenger was reportedly so annoyed by a fellow male traveler with autism that she changed seats mid-flight.

The female said she is 19 and goes by the Reddit username u/GroupProjectSare. The post in the "Am I The A**Hole" forum has been upvoted over 16,000 times.

She wrote that she was traveling alone as part of an 11-hour flight, exhausted from only four hours of sleep from the previous day. A man estimated to be in his 20s was sitting in the same row as her.

After intending to catch some shut-eye, the woman was interrupted by the man who repeatedly attempted to make conversation. He reportedly began by telling her he was autistic prior to delving into topics like K-Pop.

"He keeps non-stop talking and rarely gives me a chance to speak, not that I wanted to," she wrote. "I tried to be polite because I have ADHD and I understand how social cues are difficult so he probably can't tell I'm not in the mood."

She said she told him five times over the course of 20 minutes that she wanted to sleep, even putting on her headphones to signal her lack of participation in the conversation. However, after about two minutes of silence each time, the man continued to engage.

A four-hour nap was followed by more conversation she didn't indulge in. She said she was exhausted and dealing with personal issues that occurred the day before her flight, so she just wanted to watch programming on her phone.

"I tell him maybe five seperate [sic] times that I'm trying to watch a show, and that I'm not interested in talking to him right now but maybe later," she said."[He] still keeps trying to talk to me, and when I snap a bit and tell him I'm getting a bit annoyed he goes into a full on self-hating, 'I'm so sorry, I'm horrible, God I'm just gonna shut up now' rant. I feel bad because I should have been nicer to him and I can understand emotions being too strong and spiraling."

Awkward Plane Passenger
A woman posted on Reddit about an awkward and long encounter with an autistic man on a long flight. The woman said she made several attempts to end her conversation with the man. iStock/Getty Images

But that wasn't the end of it. After she put on her headphones again, due to what she called a lack of energy at that juncture, he reportedly stood up in the aisle and yelled at her—something along the lines of, "Why can't women believe not all men are bad. Some men are on your side. I'm a nice guy, why are you ignoring me?"

The man then went to the bathroom, which provided the Redditor—who was worried about having her own panic attack—with the chance to change seats during the flight. She even credited "amazing" flight attendants who helped her in the moment.

She later said she believed she saw the man sniff her jacket at one point.

She was supported by most of the 2,100-plus comments, including many who thought the man seemed "creepy." The poster said she was initially "creeped out" and at one point even thought the man was an incel, or involuntarily celibate.

"I'm autistic, and might not pick up on someone using body language to tell me they don't want to talk," one Redditor commented. "But OP flat out saying she didn't want to talk is where the autism excuse ends. After that, it's all incel."

"You felt like you had to apologize for having the very reasonable desire of being left alone," another said. "Nothing you've said here suggests that you were anything but polite and considerate, way past the point at which a reasonable person could be expected."

Regarding the "incel" comment, Spectrum reported in 2020 about radical online communities that attempt to lure autistic men into extremist fringes that in rare cases cause violence.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Secret Service released a report regarding a growing threat of violence toward women from men who call themselves incels.

In 2021 a man who also referred to himself as an incel hit and killed 10 pedestrians in a crowded commercial district in Toronto. After he was caught, Salon reported that the suspect and his defense team referred to him as autistic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that 5,437,988 U.S. adults, or about 2.2 percent of the adult population, have autism spectrum disorder.

Newsweek reached out to Redditor u/GroupProjectSare poster for comment.