People Would Rather Sit Next to Donald on a Plane Than Hillary, Bernie


Pretend for a moment that you’re on a plane, and a flight attendant taps on your shoulder: “Just FYI — the seat next to you will be occupied by a presidential candidate.”

Who do you hope it is?

For many Americans, it’s Donald Trump they’d prefer for a seat buddy on this highly improbable flight. According to a survey of 9,700 travelers, 36.8% said they’d most like to sit next to the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Bernie Sanders was second-most popular (barely) with 31.9% of the vote, followed by Hillary Clinton (31.3%). The margin of error is plus or minus 1.1%.

SmarterTravel, parent company of flight-comparison site Airfarewatchdog, conducted the email survey between May 19 and May 23, and the sample is nationally representative, according to a company spokesperson. It was part of a larger survey about air travel.

What the survey didn’t ask about, unfortunately, was the respondents’ motives for choosing their seat mate. Sitting next to politician isn’t necessarily indicative of a vote. Some people might want to sit next to Trump (or Clinton or Sanders) for the chance to interrogate them. (My boss, for one, would treasure such an opportunity.)

Of course, the odds of you seeing a presidential candidate on a commercial airline aren’t great — even Sanders, who collected social-media praise for flying coach, is taking more private flights. Heck, Trump has his own plane, complete with gold fixtures and Trump-crest-embroidered pillows. And Clinton likely would be far too busy doing who-knows-what on her phone to engage with whomever she’s seated next to.

For more realistic flight perks, you might want to look to an airline loyalty program or a credit card that rewards you for travel. That’s not necessarily going to land you in the seat next to anyone notable, but maybe you’ll see someone famous in an airline lounge. If not, a free checked bag or priority boarding should be some sort of consolation. As always, consider your overall financial goals before getting a credit card just for the perks — rewards credit cards can make it tempting to overspend. You can monitor your financial goals, like your credit score, for free on

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