Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann talk to campaign staff moments on his plane moments before taking off for New Hampshire after the Iowa Caucus in the early morning hours, Jan. 4, 2008. (Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times / January 4, 2008)

So are candidates flying coach on a commercial flight fair game for fellow passengers?

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that a Florida woman sat next to GOP candidate Mitt Romney on a two-hour Delta flight from Jacksonville, Fla. to Boston and found him aloof. She reported that he seemed uninterested in engaging in chitchat with her or any of the other passengers, although he did take a photo with at least one of them.

The woman said Romney spent most of the flight reading a newspaper and working on an iPad - with headphones on, of course. (Classic move for a traveler who does not want to be bothered.) When one passenger asked Romeny to recommend Boston restaurants he favored, he refused to name even one.

So, big deal. Or is it? How much privacy do you expect when you fly coach? Do you engage in small talk with your flight mates or do you grab a book, snap on the headphones and tune everyone out?

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a talker on flights. It's because I'm nervous. (This travel editor doesn't really like to fly.) But I politely heed signs that a fellow passenger doesn't want to be engaged.

So was this woman being rude? I probably wouldn't have been able to resist talking Romney's ear off either. (I've got a few things to say about strapping that dog to the car.) After all, how much privacy and space should politicans expect when flying coach? Aren't they supposed to be politicking the body politic, anyway?

Perhaps Romney is more reserved on planes after what happened last year on an Air Canada flight. Flying back from the Vancouver Olympics  - again in the economy section, Romney asked the man sitting in front of him to raise his seat back - the guy was reclining before take-off - and let's just say the man had a violent reaction to the request. Turns out the guy was from LMFAO - you know, "Party Rock Anthem." The rapper later claimed Romney had him in a "Vulcan grip."

So maybe Romney feels a bit defensive amid the coach class. Or maybe he's just the strong, silent type. (Rick Perry take note.)

Still, if you could sit next to a political candidate on your next flight, what would you say? What's the proper plane etiquette?