The Most Ridiculous Seat Swap Request I’ve Received… Ever

Filed Under: Travel

I’d like to think I’m accommodating when it comes to trading seats with others so that they can sit with friends or loved ones. Not only will I typically swap a non-bulkhead aisle (my general preference) for a non-bulkhead aisle, but I’ll also gladly take a window, or take a bulkhead, or whatever, so that people can sit together.

For many of us, time with our loved ones is the most precious thing we have, and I’m happy to contribute to that however I can for others (for the record, I don’t expect others to extend the same courtesy). Besides, when you’re in a premium cabin, you’ll typically be comfortable no matter what.

Well, today I turned down my first seat change request from a fellow passenger for the first time in a long time. I’m still shaking my head over this.

I was flying MIAT Mongolian from Ulaanbaatar to Frankfurt (I’ll have more on that flight shortly), and the lady seated across from me during boarding kept looking back at economy. Based on the way in which she was sitting there, I actually assumed she had booked economy and was trying to sneak into business class, since she kept looking back as if she was about to be caught for something.

Eventually it became clear that wasn’t the case, but rather that she was traveling with her husband, and he was booked in the bulkhead economy seat.

After the door closed she asked the flight attendant if her husband could move up since there were empty seats in business class. The flight attendant (politely) explained that wasn’t possible, and the lady seemed genuinely befuddled.

About halfway through the flight her husband came up, they talked for a bit, etc. I was doing some work on my laptop, and after he returned to economy she turned to me and asked a question.

“Do you mind switching seats with my husband for just a little bit?”

I thought I knew where her husband was seated, but figured I was misunderstanding the situation, because surely someone wouldn’t be making this request.

“Where is your husband seated?”

“Just one row behind.”

“I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to switch to an economy seat.”

“But I just want to spend some time with my husband.”

“Then maybe you could ask the person seated next to your husband if they want your business class seat for a little bit?”

“But I booked business class, I want to use my seat.”

I’m not sure I can properly describe my (unintentional) facial response to that statement, but when she saw it she said “okay, sorry.”

She then traded seats with her husband for the second half of the flight, so that he could be in business class for a while.

Some people…

  1. I was in economy plus aisle while my wife and daughter was in united business first. Guy across the aisle had an empty seat next to him and ask me if I wanted to switch two seats for one…… I must had IDIOT tattooed on my forehead that day.

  2. You were a lot nicer to her than I would have been.
    I like the small women who carry on luggage and can’t lift it into the overhead
    And look pathetically at me to do it.
    Quote…. sorry I check my bags.

  3. Why won’t you inconvenience yourself for my benefit? I deserve it.
    No I won’t inconvenience myself because…

    Sheesh, some people.

  4. @ Ben — I was asked once pre-departue on United to swap my upper deck Business class for a seat “downstairs” (presumably in business class) so a man could sit with his wife. I said yes, he gave me the seat number, and I went downstairs only to realize she was in Economy Plus. When I came back to reclaim my business class seat, he actually had the nerve to complain to the FA that it was too late because I had already given her my seat. My response was to ask for her to produce her boarding pass. She moved. Unbelievable jerk.

  5. @Jon: That’s my MO too. Kindly but firmly deny a request right out of the gate and save yourself of another sob story.

  6. I admire your poise. I think I would have been speechless, and too annoyed to make the suggestions you offered.

  7. I’ve seen strange tactics that couples use because they are too cheap. One couple on Hawaiian airlines booked premium economy which was 2 4 2 on a330 if I remember correctly. The odd thing was, they booked such that there was a seat between them(I’m guessing they planned and hoped it would stay empty which it was) and I ended up having to sit next to the wife of this cheap dentist. It wouldn’t have been annoying if they didn’t go on for an hour about how they were going to ask the flight attendant if they could move up to a business class seat. Good lord, sit next to your wife and don’t blabber on about sitting in business class if you’re too damn cheap to pay.

  8. I had a similiar seat swap request like this but in reverse. I was on a Virgin Atlantic flight from LHR to IAD. I was settling quite nicely in my Premium Economy seat awaiting takeoff. Two gentlemen come near my seat, and one of them sits next to me. They discuss something and the other one goes away. A few minutes later, they ask if I would not mind switching seats with the other guy, so the two can sit together. And they mention that the other guy is in Upper Class.

    Now my “Too good to be true” alert is ringing in my head, so I politely ask if we can talk with the flight attendants to see if we are allowed to do this and let’s walk over. (Translation: I want to make sure this guy is in Upper Class and not an economy seat by the bathroom). In the end, this guy really was sitting in Upper Class and wanted to sit with his mate in Premium Economy. Of course I consented to this swap and even the flight attendants couldn’t believe it, they were saying “Well that was nice of him”.

    Best free upgrade ever.

    On a side note, I usually do not swap seats if it is a downgrade (like to a lower travel class or to a middle seat). I do not mind swapping if it is the same type of seat or an upgrade (like the aforementioned) 🙂

  9. On these type of situations just play dumb, say you don’t speak English, use your Bose headset or simply ask the person if she really thinks you are that stupid. Unbelievable!!!!

  10. Understand your frustration, but to ridicule someone through an article is not newsworthy. Your article outlined an unreasonable request. This is not worthy of a post.

  11. I travel Southwest frequently and since you choose your seat after boarding, I always ask if a seat is taken. One day I asked a woman and she replied, “Well, I’m going to be knitting so that could be a problem,” I was stunned into silence and moved on. I really wanted to tell her how the situation reminded me of my favorite flying joke but I didn’t want to block the aisle:
    A friend boarded a flight and took her seat next to two people she didn’t know. She looked at them and said, “Hey! Where y’all from?” The lady next to her said, “WE are from a place where we know better than to end a sentence in a preposition.” My friend replied, “Hey! Where y’all from, bitch!”

  12. Last summer I was flying UA1 from SFO to SIN, an 16+ hour flight that had launched just a few weeks before. I’d just had foot surgery and was limping with a boot. Thanks to Silver status, during check-in I could select a bulkhead aisle seat at the very front of Economy+ that would’ve otherwise cost ~$400 (based on the in-app upgrade price). A couple with a baby had paid fora neighboring seat (for the bassinet), but were too cheap to buy 2 upgrades. When I tried to board 5 minutes before the gate closed, the gate agent and parents requested I switch to an exit row middle seat next to a bathroom. I said I’d be happy to exchange my seat for a better one (i.e. business) but was not interested in a downgrade. Gate agent was totally courteous but unwilling to move me anywhere but that worse seat or into economy. I had booked with United solely because I knew I was likely to get some extra legroom and wasn’t willing to give it up on a 16 hour flight, esp. with an injury. The parents simply took shifts up front, and thanks to my noise-cancelling headphones, I slept even better than the baby. Don’t ever hesitate to say NO!

  13. Back when I was routinely flying economy I would get lots of requests for seat changes when I was seated in an aisle bulkhead seat. Usually a tall guy or a spouse or partner asking me to switch. If they had a reasonable forward aisle or window seat to switch I’d usually accommodate them, particularly on the shorter flights. Oddly, I never saw these requests made of men in adjacent bulkhead seats but I guess it happens. On the occasions when I would politely decline, I always felt like I was getting the evil eye.

  14. Jeanne
    Jon is a Real Today Man and a Correct Man she packed the Bag let the B pick it up and put it the Bin equal pay for equal work GET IT ? I had the same thing walking down the aisle the B said ” I’ll let U put that bag up top for me ” I did but laughed this isn’t 20 years ago thinking Dumb Blond and walked on… CHEERs

  15. I disagree @Eddy Baker. I’ve actually learnt a few things from this post. All information is good information – especially when you’re a beginner.

  16. It’s funny that will be some people thinking that since they fly in business/first class, then everyone should accommodate everything they ask, doesn’t matter how ridiculous their request sounds. They don’t even think twice what they are planning to ask. Since there’s plenty of business class seats empty like she said, she can pay for her husband’s upgrade to sit in business class rather then ask a paid business class stranger to sit in economy.

  17. Jon is absolutely right. If you can’t lift your carry on into the bin, CHECK IT.

    Don’t expect other people to tear their rotator cuffs so you can save $25.

  18. @Jon @Jake @Lord Potato @Caveman: I’m not quite 5′ tall, very strong and capable of carrying/lifting my 7kg carry-on bag. Sadly at this height it is almost impossible for me to reach the overhead bins (particularly on international flights as the bins are higher). I’ve had many people, men and women, offer to assist either putting the bag up or lifting it down (I never ask for help). I can’t understand what your reasoning/problem is. I never book seats with extra leg space because I am lucky enough not to need them. But if I’ve been given a bulkhead seat randomly and someone taller asks me to swap I’ve done it willingly. Thanks to your lesson on manners I won’t do it anymore and just rudely turn around and say, “hey, tough luck, you should have paid extra for this seat” (because it would cost me extra to book my little bag underneath).

    To quote Lucky’s last line “Some people …..”

  19. Jesus. Bunch of clowns on this site.

    1) help someone. Big man won’t help an old woman or man. I helped an older guy flying to Miami. Can’t wait for you big boys to get older so I can shove you into a gutter. Pathetic.

    2) id just ignore the woman. Asking you to move to economy is a joke. Good for you for being more polite than you needed to be. Pig like that should be in storage.

  20. I usually chose the seat that I want to sit in well in advance – so I won’t give it up except in cases of parents and children, honeymoon, an elder, or other reasonable situation. But when most folks ask me to switch so that they can be (and talk) together, I always want to say, “You do realize that it is 2 1/2 hours – then you’ll be together again?” Better for everyone else if you can keep those talkers apart anyway.

  21. You must have a good travel karma. When Iboard usually (wearing sunglasses) I look straight ahead and use my best Darth Vader look. Most people dont bother me especially as I dont look at anyone unless someone says “excuse me – can I get to my seat”? On a TG flight there was this gnet who decided he was entitled to use my overhead bin for his drawings and when I pointed this out to him I go a ” Oh I dint see your name on the bin”. Appropriate response was “don’t be as smart arse” which is what he got. Nice TG F/A moved his stuff after having looked at me.

  22. Lot of charming fellas on here. Most of us climb over each other to help a lady (or old guy, or disabled or injured person) with their carryons into the bin or their checked luggage off the carousel.

    Asking me to move back to steerage from business? Them’s fighting words.

  23. this is what Jon said:

    ” small women who carry on luggage and can’t lift it into the overhead And look pathetically at me to do it.”

    if you look at me pathetically like that , or just point your fingers at the piece like I should do it, I will not.

  24. Jo, I always help women (and even some smaller men) to life their bags into the overhead containers.

    Because, you know, I am a human being.

  25. Seriously if people can’t get seats together how the hell is that my problem? I’ve been asked to switch within the first class cabin but no way in hell would I go to a lower class of service. Its kinda a joke that this woman wanted someone else to give up their seat but she was not willing to do it to sit near her husband.

  26. Jon,

    I’ll take false equivalents for $400.

    Asking someone to put a bag up in an overhead is hardly a request to swap Y for C.

    Your mother is lucky to count you as her son.

  27. Geez what is wrong with some of the guys on here. If a small girl asks you (politely – demanding is another matter) to lift her carry on up you should go ahead and do it.

    If you’re blessed with an extra 6-12 inches of height and an extra 60% lifting power per KG (on average) don’t be a douche and help her out! Particularly if she’s cute 😉

  28. Ben:

    Isn’t it amazing how with just one look you can actually convey a concise answer….aka… “Are you out of your Mind ?”
    You handled it exactly the way I would have handled it….

  29. My carry on weights 30 pounds. It’s full of medical equipment that’s much too expensive and delicate to check. Since I can’t travel anywhere overnight without it, I depend of kind people for help. Of course I ask nicely, but although I’m not particularly cute I find people very willing to help me out.

  30. This is an example how selfish our society has become. We are always trying to get ahead. For example, when we try to bypass someone in a que to join the our party ahead, why don’t we go the other way? Join them behind the person instead of trying to move ahead of them? Food for thought.

  31. I don’t get why y’all have problems with people’s carry-ons. I fly domestic from Athens twice a year on a Q400. It has large bins for a turboprop, but many large bags don’t fit. Nobody has any problem to help the person, and it takes 2-3 minutes.

    Also my dad is handicapped and my parents are both old, so I have to take down all our carry-ons (aka all but the largest bag, because checking bags is expensive) so you tell me you wouldn’t help anyone trying to carry 5 bags on their own. And checking bags is not an option for everyone, which is why many search for cheap flights, even if there are stops, while non-stops are available. So what I make out here is that you all are assholes and should put the word “hospitality” and “kindness” in your vocabulary.

  32. My wife would give me hell if I lifted another woman’s bag. If you can’t carry it don’t bring it, simple. If the plane is a pick up joint for you that’s another story.
    As for the involuntary downgrade, I would have made the situation more amusing. I would have said sure I will swap, just pay me $1500.

  33. This is ridiculous I am surprised she even thought about asking you let alone doing it its ridiculous she expects you to downgrade yourself when she said she wants to use her seat in business

  34. Instead of asking help from another passenger, why not asking help from FA?

    Ups I forgot. You guys flown US carriers, along with US cultures….

  35. One of my friend’s mothers always said “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on mine”.

    Asking for someone to downgrade to allow your travel companion to upgrade is completely out of line

    To struggle to lift your bag and then say “I need someone to do this for me” (which I witnessed on a flight lately) is completely out of line.

    Asking some one in Y to take your J/F seat to sit next to a travel companion is fine. Saying “I have a hard time reaching the overhead compartments, can you help?” is fine.

    The assumption irritates me.

  36. Funny story Ben. I too do not have a problem switching seats with anyone as long as it’s an aisle and in the same class of service.

  37. Hahahaha some people are so entitled.

    Unless she was willing to pay me for my business class seat, I wouldn’t have moved either.

  38. Entitlement 101…mixed with a good dose of obliviousness to anyone else’s interests. You sure it was a member of the Trump family?

  39. Seriously, be a human being.

    Request to downgrade? No, that’s not reasonable. You paid for your seat and are entitled to it.

    Request to help stow a bag, or do anything else that won’t ultimately cause you serious inconvenience? Do it with a smile.

    Case in point. A few weeks ago my wife and I arrived at the gate when boarding was underway. It was our third flight of the day, the previous one being a 9 hour trans-Atlantic. Being in Business class we were in boarding Zone 1. Went to the front of the Zone 1 queue and there were two women “of a certain age” approaching the gate agent from the left. I asked if they were in Zone 1 and one said they were expecting to be invited to board first because they needed a little extra time. (That was the procedure a few years ago. I guess they hadn’t flown in a while.) I said that comes after Zone 2, but then motioned them ahead. The gate agent then reiterated that the procedure was to invite people who need extra time to board after Zone 2, but since we were the only Zone 1 people, said they could go ahead if we didn’t object. I smiled and nodded, so they went ahead. We went next, had our boarding passes scanned, and as we passed the two women in the jet way smiled and wished them a good flight. Cost us nothing. The two women felt a little cared for. My wife and I are not heroes here, just human beings.

    Be a human being.

  40. Helping stow bags is going off on a tangent I know, but I would like to share my experience. As a senior, I am perfectly capable popping my carry-on in an o/h bin on any plane, as it is one item only, generally meeting size/weight requirements. However, on the EWR NJ Transit train I struggle to get my (to be) checked-in bag into the overhead rack for the short trip. Invariably a young guy or gal even, also travelling to EWR will offer help. Your stereotypical lazy middle aged, white American males invariably prefer to ignore the problem, but would be the first to complain if said bag was left in the aisle. Not complaining; just an observation.

  41. Last summer, in the departure lounge waiting to leave PHL on a flight to Athens, we heard a woman arguing constantly with her daughter–the mother was booked in business, and the daughter in economy. The mother was insisting that they switch seats so the daughter could be in business class, and the daughter insisted the mother keep her business class seat.

    We boarded the aircraft and took our seats in business class. The mother boarded, and after awhile she noticed there were unsold seats in business class—so she approached the flight attendant with her credit card, fully expecting to BUY a business class seat right there, on the spot. The AA flight attendant was very patient, endured the woman’s lengthy, ridiculous protests, and kept explaining to her that she couldn’t sell her a seat right there on the plane, just prior to departure.

  42. Back in 1994 I was travelling home from work in India with 3 friends, we were poor students in Economy on Qantas Hong Kong to Brisbane. We were asked to separate after boarding and being seated. We refused, and they tried a bit of guilt saying it was for a family of 4 to sit together. We resisted and eventually they offered us to upgrade to business class. Offer accepted, got to love an upgrade. And Lucky as to the final comment ” I paid for business and want to use my seat” should have been met with ” as did I and so do I “, then turning away.

  43. Ha Ha, some people have some neck on them, but be careful of this, as it has happened twice?? I have asked a passenger to switch seats in premium economy, so i could be near my wife, friend, which they agreed to do,?? but they were in the incorrect seat???, its best to ask for their boarding pass, and six I ll give you mine. Just check seat number, as it can cause problems,. The funniest was an elderly lady was in Business, slipping champagne , had a second glass, chatting, and then someone came up, as to check her seat . and instead go being say 6a it was 36a ha ha. anyway she took the drink with her.

  44. Wow!The Lady though chose the right person to ask for a seat swap from Biz to Eco as if anyone would ever agree to this downgrade it would be Lucky as he has traveled millions of miles in premium cabins and wouldn’t mind to downgrade for a one off 😛

    Recently on an AirAsia flight in Malaysia a young lady sat next to me with her kid. I was in aisle the lady took the Middle and the kid was on the window seat. My family was seated across from me on the 3 parallel seats.

    This lady’s husband was seated in a middle seat a row behind us. She asked me if I could swap I politely refused.

    Usually I would do it if it was a short flight and if it’s a family with a young kid as I very well understand that kids could be difficult while flying and they would need both parents to be assisted. But in this case I very well knew she had not paid for the seat selection that’s why she and the kid were separated from her husband as AirAsia allots seats randomly at check in if you don’t pay to select seats online which I had done to be seated with my family.

    During the flight I confirmed with the Lady that they had not paid for seat selection. They were trying to save a few $$$ and hoping they would get lucky to sit together.

  45. Wow lots of interesting comments. I get what Jon is saying but it really depends on the situation. There is a BIG difference between a person that needs help with a regular carry on and someone who has brought on WAY more than they can even handle through the airport. I usually will help anyway because I’m a gentleman, my mother and father taught me to be polite and to get these people into their seats and out of the aisle so we can get going faster. Oh and short folks. Many planes have steps on the outside of the aisle seats for all those short FA’s that end up putting your junk away for you because Jon won’t 🙂

    I hate seat switchers. I spend a lot of time picking my seat, checking in online, etc. etc. It’s not that I even mind so much and I have switched seats a bunch of times. Even in long haul first from window to middle. The problem I have always comes from disorganized folks that don’t know how it works OR are trying to work the system somehow. So it comes down to them asking you to switch. At that point you are either the victim or the rude person. There are few upsides to this. I will switch seats if I can come out even but I won’t downgrade unless you are clearly a honeymoon couple, disabled vet, medal of honor winner on an honor flight or my wife when I get upgraded and she doesn’t (made that mistake ONCE).

  46. Jon, you’re a real charmer aren’t you. Your Mum must be so proud. I hope she never has to ask someone like you for help. Can’t wait until karma comes back to bite you.

  47. …. and then you get that “I can’t sit next to that man” request from Arab women. That’s so very frequent in the Middle East!!!

  48. Haha thanks Lucky for a good chuckle today you were far more polite than I would have been (I think disbelieving silence from me would have been the end of it!).

    As for Jon and the many others insisting they will never help a fellow passenger (such as a small woman) with their bag – what happened to basic civility? That has nothing to do with a seat change and is so rude it makes me think you are internet trolls.

  49. This happened for the first time last week. I had a 737 economy D seat. Boarded to find a man sitting in D with kids in E&F. He had B but wanted to sit with his kids and asked if I’d be willing to switch to his original middle seat. I told him to buy me a drink and happily switched with him. I know that I probably shouldn’t have, but at least he was able to keep his kids quiet – which ultimately gave everyone on the plane a better seat.

  50. Fascinating thread of comments. As a small woman, I only bring carry-ons that I can lift into the overhead compartment by myself. But… I tend to do this lifting slowly, and occasionally friendly help is offered in the middle of this process. In such cases, I give a smiling “Thank you!” while continuing to do my own lifting, sometimes with a helpful boost from the friendly helping hand. Likewise, I’m always happy to help others if I’m able. Why not practice civility when we can?

    Changing seats, though, is an entirely different matter, as I always do the travel planning for Spouse and I, and our seats are always very carefully chosen well in advance. I’d take an upgrade, sure, but if traveling with Spouse, I’d only take it if Spouse was offered an upgrade, too. Otherwise, I expect people to practice the same self-awareness that I would practice — i.e. I would never even consider asking someone else to trade down to a worse seat, and I would never begrudge someone who declined to trade to an equivalent seat.

  51. True story. I’m arrive in first class and sit next to some titan of industry. We start talking. I have to work later and am not drinking. He is clearly not working later. He’s a schmuck. He asks if I can switch seats with his girlfriend so they can sit together, since I won’t be drinking up here, anyway. I say sure and ask where she sitting. He says 31A. For some reason I say OK and head back to economy class. (The first class lav is full). When I arrive I see one of the prettiest girls I’ve every seen sitting next to a unpleasant looking gent in 31B. I invite 31B to sit in 1st clacc and and sit down next to the girl in 31A and tell her her boyfriend is a schmuck. I use every ounce of charm I have and within an hour we are flirting and touching hands.

    That’s how I joined the Mile High Club. We are still dating. Her ex is still a schmuck.

    I lied. The above is not a true story, but it should be.

  52. You are one of the “koolest udes” Ive ever met. You are polite and more than kind. I love your blog as its about real things not just great deals. Hope to see you in Chicago in October if you will be there.
    Great blog today

  53. You are one of the “koolest dudes” Ive ever met. You are polite and more than kind. I love your blog as its about real things not just great deals. Hope to see you in Chicago in October if you will be there.
    Great blog today

  54. Funny post! And to Eddy Baker this is Lucky’s blog not yours. If you don’t like his choice of subjects go elsewhere.

  55. Once helped some elderly people put their roller bags up right as boarding was wrapping up on a virgin america sfo iad flight and put my backpack (my only carry on) under the seat in front of me. I was in my early 20s at the time. Anyway, a flight attendant noticed and brought me free wine for the duration of the flight. Sometimes being nice brings good karma.

  56. What do you do if your confirmed seats got switched before you board? I was puzzling how my pre-booked aisle seat got switched without my acknowledgement? I ended up with a window seat one row behind (3A) .it was an older couple who looked nervous but wanted seat together and the guy sitting 3B told me he won’t bite … of course I had no choice since they already seated. Just thinking it would be nice just asked me beforehand thou luckily my small bladder was behaving during 6 hours flight.

  57. Some pax have very unrealistic expectations when it comes to downgraded seat swapping and oversized carry on luggage. It’s nice to help people in need, BUT not if it makes me the loser.

  58. Some passengers are so entitled and self-centred they don’t see the irony of asking someone to swap their carefully chosen seat allocation often done months in advance in exchange for their middle or worse seat that they don’t want.

    If I have an aisle seat I’ll always offer to get the hand luggage out of the overhead bin for the pax in the window seat while we’re waiting for the aircraft door to be opened. That way it won’t hold up people disembarking if the window pax stands in the aisle getting their stuff out. I wouldn’t lift a super heavy bag as I’ve had a shoulder injury and don’t want to aggravate it.

    We always pre-select our seats whenever possible but in cases where we’ve been disrupted and missed connections we’ve sometimes had split seats on the new flights. We don’t bother asking people to swap but just about every time when it’s apparent we’re a couple the pax have volunterred to swap. This was on AA domestic in F so generally the pax has gone from 3B to 3E or something similar.

  59. I think the original point has been lost.

    Woman wants another passenger to downgrade so she can sit next to her husband on a short flight. Or even if it was a long flight.

    Someone wrote “People are stupid.” Yes, but really, that’s beyond stupid. It’s psycho.

  60. It’s a bit disheartening to see so little compassion on here.
    In different cultures there are varying norms. If your response is that someone asking you to do something you think reduces your economic reward is inherently wrong and an affront to your ego, your lives will be much easier (and less annoying to others) if you stay in your own culture rather than travelling to others.

  61. Some people just have unrealistic expectations. I don’t think I could have stopped laughing if they asked me to move to Y from J.

    I’m very firm in my preference for a window. If someone asks me to move to an aisle (or middle, if in Y), I’m going to tell them no. I prefer rear-facing seats as well, but will take a front-facing window when asked. Indeed, I was once on United and had the FA say “oh, I have a great proposition for you to move.” I said “move?” He said “yeah, we’ll give you a much better seat to move for this husband and wife that upgraded to sit together.” I said “well, this is the seat I chose and really my favorite on the plane, so I don’t see how we can improve this.” He stuttered “well, it is a forward facing aisle.” I said that I never sit in the aisle and I much prefer rear facing. He kept trying to pressure me, and then even tried to screw me out of my meal choice. The only bad sUA flight attendant experience I’ve ever had.

    As for this whole thing about helping with a bag – oh come on. What ever happened to basic human decency? Helping the fellow human? People can’t control how tall they are – that is genetic. Shorter people still travel and still need to carry things. There is no reason to not help a shorter person, or even a frail person.

  62. I have both accepted and rejected a swap. One was requested so a husband could sit with his wife – he acknowledged that he was offering me a worse (middle) seat than my aisle. I said yes. Since he acknowledged it was a big ask – I could be gracious.

    However – while I assist with the luggage of anyone who is adjacent if I have clear access to the overhead bins and they don’t – there are exceptions.

    I was traveling long-haul and an American women boarded with luggage the size of an elephant. Double the size of my checked luggage. She was traveling business – so no extra fees to check her luggage and given it was an international long-haul, she wasn’t going to save much time, if any time at the other end.

    She didn’t even try to put it up herself, and asked cabin staff – who said no (Qantas have been much sued by staff for back injuries) – she then asked every man who passed by to help her. She didn’t have much luck until she tried herself and averting the impending disaster of the bag about to fall on another passenger – some huge rugby player helped her get it up.

    So, the rule should be – don’t pack it if you can’t lift it – but with exceptions – although this case is not one of them.

  63. Seat swapping is particularly annoying when last minute upgraders you see hanging around the gate waiting for news end up with split seats then expect people to give up their prime seats to accommodate them at the same time whinging that the airline split them up.

  64. Last flight I was on some chancer had pinched my exit row seat, then asked to see my boarding pass to prove it was mine!

    He slunk off to the middle row, and I was delighted as some young kids from business passed and re-passed him about 100 times changing sides.

  65. Agree that Lucky is really polite in this situation. I have always manage my booking beforehand to make sure that my companion and I can sit together, which i “did” assume that everyone does…… I have been asked to changed seat once for a couple with baby from my extra legroom to a normal econ. Though i am 6’3 I swap with the guy as they asked me really politely and apologized few times. I am always happy when able to help others.

    @ozflygirl747 can’t agree more! I always offer to help others when they aren’t able to put their hand luggage up to the overhead bin. I see this as a way to help others and both end up in happy face, so y not doing so? never encounter a checked-size “hand luggage” though…

    AGAIN, guys, show yourselves as a human being… helping others do make everyone happy!

  66. @steve The seat thief had the audacity to ask you for your boarding pass! That’s unbelievable but good to see karma prevailed.

  67. I travel frequently and will always help with a bag if I see someone struggling with it, or if I’m asked politely for help. Those of you that will not are what is wrong with society today. To that guy who says his wife would give him hell if he helped another woman with her bag…you are particularly pathetic.

  68. My most horrific seat changing experience was the week after I was married. We were flying to JFK from Zurich on an AA 767 several years ago so the configuration was 2-2-2 in business. My wife asked the guy next to her he would change and he said he only sat in window seats. I was in the center two seats, so she asked the woman next to me if she would switch aisle seats with her and explained to her we were recently married. The very elegant woman dressed in a beautiful white blouse and slacks, replied icily that she just was not interested. No problem, I was tired anyway. Well, shortly after the red wine was served, I began to nod off and had the wine glass sitting on the center console. This transpired easily into the most embarrassing moment of my life as when I totally conked out, my hand jerked and emptied the full glass of red wine right into the crotch of those perfect white slacks. My first reaction was to reach over and try to wipe it off, fortunately, I was fully awake by this point and killed that urge. She said nothing but if looks could kill…………She simply got up, packed up her things, went to the bathroom to salvage what she could, then took my wife’s seat. I moved over to the wine soaked seat and my wife took mine. I asked the FA to relay a message to her offering to pay for her slacks, but was ignored.

  69. There’s no law (nor could there ever be one) against asking for something/anything, no matter how crazy it sounds. My strategy for if it ever happens to me is to say sure, then to ask for an extremely high dollar amount payable in cash up front – happy to do it with flight attendants as witnesses to boot!

    As for the bag-into-the-overhead-compartment thing, I am willing to assist out of human decency but I do think there’s something to be said for knowing how much one can pack/lift; it’s a situation everyone knows beforehand, especially if you are not height-challenged.

  70. On occasion I note a willingness to switch seats for $400 cash or 5,000 airlines miles and coordination as such with the flight attendant. The flight attendant does have the ability to deposit the 5,000 miles so the request is not unreasonable. More often than not the conversation ends as the passenger moves to the next more willing individual.

  71. I bet Lucky and Ford are having a great time sipping wine and eating Cheese reading the posts . He starts this stuff and lets it Run to see how many post . ANYONE will help a Lady or a Gentleman with their Seat belt ,Armrest,Tray table,Ear phones, how to work the tech stuff ect. The second u Expect and or Demand something from a fellow passenger your neither so Good Luck ..

  72. @Eddy Baker – no body told you to read this. The fact that you went to the effort to respond to an article which you think in not newsworthy says a lot about you.

  73. “My wife would give me hell if I lifted another woman’s bag.”

    I would give my husband hell if he DIDN’T help someone who needed help, woman OR man. Of course, my husband is a gentleman, so it would never occur to him NOT to help. And while I’m no weight-lifter, I’m always happy to help someone when I can. Politeness and generosity make the world a nicer place.

    Better pray that karma never comes around to bite you and your (apparently) selfish wife in the derriére.

  74. As someone who goes through great lengths to travel light I do find it a bit frustrating when people travel with more luggage than they can handle particularly when they are physically overwhelmed by the amount of luggage they have. Of course that doesn’t preclude my helping them when they ask nicely for help.

    My elderly mother routinely travels with three 32kg bags and a 10Kg carry on (BA Club World allowance). It doesn’t matter for her destination as there are porters to help, but I warn her that if there are any irregular operations or whatever she is screwed.

  75. I had a situation similar to this on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to New York back in March, but it was much more aggressive. I was in business class, which I had upgraded to by using my Aeroflot Bonus miles prior to the flight. There was a self-important man who said he was some CEO or something, who had the seat next to me. It’s funny that he identified how “important” he was because of his job status before his request. Anyway, he demanded that I switch seats with his young daughter, so he could sit near her. Problem was, she was seated in a middle economy seat in the center row on one of their A330s. I told him he was out of his mind. And it didn’t help that I told him he was f****** retarded for even asking. He then went about threatening me, saying he had connections, etc. Then he proceeded to tell me that I am in “his” country and should do as I am told. It was comical. The next 9 hours were miserable because he kept telling me that I am a piece of **** and that I would never be as important as him, etc. When we landed in NY, my parting shot was “Welcome to MY country, b****.” Anything else to say?” He just glared and I walked off.

  76. I had a guy who wanted me to trade his middle seat for my aisle seat because he wanted to be next to his wife. I told him NO and the reason I booked my aisle seat in advance was NOT to get stuck in a middle seat. He got all upset, angry saying I wan not a gentlemen and more. I said to him (as I am a Psychologist) ” I see you are feeling annoyed and angry” he loudly said YES. I told him, it’s only a feeling it will pass.

  77. John…..Classic response….Perhaps the funniest incident I saw was a couple of years back on Alaska Airlines…..We were in First Class…and the last passenger got on the flight, but there was no overhead storage space for his small bag and laptop in First Class. The guy on the window side of his row, said….oh the bag above is mine… can gate check it….So the cabin attendant promptly took the bag and had the gate agent check it…..
    When she came back with the baggage stub, the passenger said….oh that belongs to a gentlemen in a grey shirt in the first row of Economy……he thought he would store his bag up in the First Class area, to make for a quick exit of the aircraft upon arrival….
    Well to say the least this guy in coach was not amused…..and the rest of us in First Class could not stop giggling….all 16 of us….Shazam !!!!

  78. @John

    i was on a WizzAir flight next to two kids, the lady asked her if I would switch seats with her so she could be with her kids. The problem was that her seat was in a middle (A320) and I specifically paid for an aisle for the same reason as you – I did not want to be stuck in a middle. So I politely declined. She understood that but warned that I might be having to deal with her kids for three hours.

    The kids themselves were very nice but hyperactive. They were going all over the place, playing hide and seek and running through the aisle. While they were nice and chatting with me (I let them play games on my phone to try and calm them down) the running around got annoying after a while. The FAs even had to tell off the mother for not supervising her kids enough.

    Like many here have said, just pay for the seat next to your family or friends. If you can afford the flight you can certainly afford the seat reservation!

  79. RE: Miat Mongolian Airlines J Class seats. That seating arrangement pictured (2-1-2) doesn’t do much for pax convenience of aisle access. Seems a 1-3-1 or even a 1-2-2 (if Miat likes unusual seat arrangement) would be preferable.
    Thumb rule: If it’s too heavy to lift into the overhead bin, it’s too heavy to be transported in there, no matter how tall you are. As far as carry-on bags, size matters and so does weight.

  80. DCA-CVG – 737 – took my aisle seat next to a gentleman and a little girl. Woman holding lap child who I quickly figured out was the mom came and said something to dad, then went back to middle seat one row back. So of course I said “I’m happy to switch so y’all can sit together.” They were just thrilled. Would I have done this on a transcon? Ummm… yeah, sure…

  81. @Jan — Hard to blame this on a culture thing, considering the woman didn’t want to downgrade herself either. If being with family is the most important thing, she could have switched with the person next to her husband in economy, but she recognized the value in the business class seat and didn’t want to do it. Hard to assign this situation to anything except greed.

  82. I’m 70 years old and fly frequently. I’ve had my carry-on misdirected and permanently lost several times, so I no longer check it. I don’t over pack, but do have difficulty lifting my bag into the overhead bins, especially on international flights when the bins tend to be higher.

    I’d like to thank the many kind people – both men and women – who have helped me lift my luggage into overhead bins. Your thoughtfulness is GREATLY appreciated.

    In other words…

  83. I only help non-western women with their bags. Given today’s culture and how butt ugly my face is, I would probably get accused of rape if I tried to help a western woman, particularly from an Anglophone country, even if she asked me politely for help.

    Anyway the most unusual seat request I got was on a domestic Thai Airways flight, sat next to this young mother with twin toddlers, on a full flight – in fact they had to ask for volunteers. She asked me if she could put one of her babies in my lap lol. I politely declined. Of course the little darlings made sure I couldn’t snooze on the flight but fortunately it was a short flight.

  84. I’m surprised no one has pointed out that one of the key reasons for carrying on a bag is that, if you’re not an elite, which most travelers are not, check in lines can be hell on earth. $25-35 is one thing; an hour or more of your life is another (and a stressful hour at that, with security still ahead). It’s pretty rational and reasonable to want to avoid that.

    I think people who can’t reach the overheads are entitled to bring on a rollaboard just like everyone else, and they are entitled to have a flight attendant help them with it. But if that person asks a fellow passenger for help, nicely and without demand or expectation, any decent person would and should accommodate, happily.

  85. Sadly, reading these comments reminds me of going to a zoo. There are animals and there are humans. The humans know the difference.

    The animals do not.

  86. Husb took job in WI & son was in 3rd yr of HS so we stayed in NV. Only could get together during school breaks. Tix were booked las-lax- hnl & mke- ord-lax -hnl for example without nearby adjacent seats in many cases due to equipment change, routing, airline changed seats we had picked, etc factors not in our control for lax- hnl for example. I explained why the seat switch as we only saw each other 2-3 x a year. People did 75% switch the aisle for aisle or window for window in the row. Usually had to explain to multiple people b4 someone agreed. Lots of no’s. Only asked for exact same seat change. Very rough time tho as people don’t generally get the long distance situation that has to be.

  87. I think that’s why Etihad and so on introduced closable doors for first class… You literally always get gazers unless the flight crew strictly locks down the intersection between economy and business/first…

  88. I once swapped a business class seat on a BA flight from London to Athens for coach because I saw a couple travelling with their toddler who was very sad that “daddy” was in the back. Intra-Europe business class is so lame to begin with I offered up my seat voluntarily without being asked. Have to say the FAs were incredibly nice to me on that flight as they had never seen someone do that before. Fortunately I was not in a middle seat with Jabba the Hutt next to me or I might have regretted the move…

  89. Great post, Lucky. As for the side comments on assisting with overhead bin luggage I’m puzzled why airlines don’t enforce their own carryon size rules. It seems that most roller bags exceed the size requirements and this leads to cabin crowding, passenger anger in the fight for bin space, and cases where people struggle to lift their own luggage to an overhead bin. Most flights offer to check your carryon bag for free at the gate as the cabin crew realizes that bin space is limited when a flight is fully booked or oversold. In fact, I can’t remember a flight in the last year when the “we’ll check your bag for free offer” wasn’t made by gate agents. Check your bags! No one is so important that they can’t wait 15 minutes to collect a bag at baggage claim. I always check my bag and try to travel as comfortably (and lightly) as possible. I am happy to help someone lift a bag — but am too polite to ask them why they don’t simply check their bag? One of these days, though . . .

  90. I wouldn’t go as far as Jon, but if you don’t ask me nicely, I’m not going to help you. Manners are absolutely important. If you ask me nicely, I’ll be more than happy to lend you my help.

  91. I cannot understand why people won’t book their seats together when they plan a trip! Why do people expect Others to take care of them? The airlines SHOULD enforce their own rules about how large/heavy bags are brought on board. Why are some people more entitled than others?
    It is unbelievable that families would book seats apart from one another! Don’t people PLAN? Or are they expecting entitlement? I cannot understand why people would bring on to a plane anything that they themselves cannot physically handle! How did they get it into the airport? I often see people carrying on enough luggage to appear as if they are immigrating to whatever country they are flying! This is not about manners, it’s about some fool expecting someone else to have the manners they originally should be exhibiting! Why are people so quick to have expectations of others that they do not have in their own repertoire. And Yes! Count me in on the women who would be repulsed by having to help someone who has evidently overpacked and is EXPECTING someone, whether it be male/female to do t/ her mule work! I am not expecting to load someone else’s misplaced sense of entitlement, because they are too small or whatever their personal issue is. That is for the airline employee to deal with! Just how much of this stuff are you going to use on the flight anyway? and just in case the goody two shoes who are going to send an arrow into my heart, I have family members who need help, but I have always sent someone along with that person to help them, or paid for help along the way!

  92. I recently flew Nashville to LA on Southwest which was a full flight and boarded in the B group but there was still overhead locker space available when group C boarded probably because they allow 2 free checked bags which saves all the drama.

  93. Kind of on the subject. When my husband and I travel together, if in Y, I always put him in the better seat (I’m EXP) and if only 1 UG clears, I have him take the Biz/FC seat and I stay in Y, but in the better seat.

  94. @dln
    Your difficult situation is not caused by other pax who weren’t willing to switch seats with you.

    “without nearby adjacent seats in many cases due to equipment change, routing, airline changed seats we had picked, etc factors not in our control for lax- hnl”

    I have a hard time believing this happens ‘very frequently’. Even so, you could pay to pre-select the seats. Why would someone inconvenience themselves for nothing. How much do you value your time spent sitting next to each other on a flight? $50? $100? Put up a $50 bill and ask the pax nicely, I’m sure you’ll get 90% success rate in no time 😉

  95. @jo145…so, you have short legs and you are short, so people feel sorry for you and want to help…not the case for everyone…I would not give up my seat either just so two cheap people who did not plan ahead could sit together. If you want to sit together – plan ahead and pay for it. Poor planning on someone else’s part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Some people!

  96. I am the guy that ALWAYS says no to swap requests. On principle. Unless I get offered an UG to a higher class..which has never happened.

    Am I an asshole? Probably. Do I care? Hell no. I will never see any of those people again. People who worry too much about how they are perceived by the other pax, or revert to ignorant, superstitious ideas like “karma”. If you are worried about getting the evil eye, you have the wrong perspective. I personally enjoy watching someone indignant steam in anger for the rest of the flight because I know they are suffering for their impudence.

    Of course, being asked to downgrade is more than just a’s an outright insult and should be treated as such. No courtesy owed…I have laughed in the face of the two people who have asked me to move back to coach in the past. It’s what they deserve. Am I a jerk? Yes..but not nearly as much of a jerk as the person asking me to give up my F seat for a coach one.

    See, seating on a plane is a competition. We are all jockeying for that better position. If I am sitting in the primo seat, it’s because I won it by proper planning, paying extra for it, or having status with the airline due to frequent flying. And even in a run of the mill, average seat, swapping is a end up away from your bin and your stuff, or further back etc. If I have the seat, I WON it. I win, you lose. End of story. When you are winning a race, you don’t run back into give your medal to the guy in 8th place simply because he really really wants it and thinks he’s entitled. You don’t give up your Mercedes S Class to the guy with the Aveo because he really really wants it. You want to sit where I am sitting? PAY FOR IT.

    If someone is too stupid to use seat selection when they book, or too CHEAP, then they deserve to sit in the middle seat near the toilets in the back. It’s not don’t get your seating when you arrive at the airport anymore. Doubly so for anyone who wants to sit with a companion..if it’s THAT important to sit near your spouse, then book seats together. Same for travelling with your crotch spawn.

    Separated couples? Who cares? Adults can be apart for a few hours. Kids? Ask the staff..don’t put me out to solve your problem. Self-entitled parents are already a curse on society..newsflash..I don’t care about your kids. It gives you no more entitlement than anyone else.

    Seating screwed up by cancellations, aircraft swaps, and operational issues? Too sad. STILL NOT MY PROBLEM!! You should count yourself lucky that you have a seat at ALL.

    I never bother with explanations. I just throw out an abrupt “No”. Further arguments or attitude and I ring the call button.

    People who get upgraded and then mad that they are not sitting together? Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth…you will be fine apart. Just enjoy biz or first and shut up.

    And before anyone rants about “Common Courtesy”, I should point out that common courtesy first and foremost means leaving other people alone and not foisting your problems on them.

  97. @Emirates4Ever – I have a feeling it’s your attitude that’s the problem, not your face.

    @MichaelDunfee – best story ever!!

  98. Some pax have very unrealistic expectations when it comes to downgraded seat swapping and oversized carry on luggage. It’s nice to help people in need, BUT not if it makes me the loser…

  99. On the flipside, I’ve in two occasions offered a seat swap so that two people (friends/couple) who sat to my left and right could sit together… and in both occasions my offer was declined! In the first, an FA came out in my rescue before I even asked for it. The second one was amusing, though. After declining my offer to swap seats, they actually had the nerve to ask if it was OK for them to use MY folding table (I was flying Y) to put THEIR food & drinks!

    So yeah, some people… madness!

  100. On the flipside, I’ve on two occasions offered a seat swap so that two people (friends/couple) who sat to my left and right could sit together… and in both occasions my offer was declined! In the first, an FA came out in my rescue before I even asked for it. The second one was amusing, though. After declining my offer to swap seats, they actually had the nerve to ask if it was OK for them to use MY folding table (I was flying Y) to put THEIR food & drinks!

    So yeah, some people… madness!

  101. MDW>LGA (Full plane i got early bird) after watching stressed out kid I offered to move so Ma could seat next to kid .Ma was like so what (Kid was crying) Fa asked if I moved I said yes (Thinking will I get arrested ? ) she later gave a free Drink . Remember no matter what u do people are watching .

  102. I got 5 hours of stink eye from a woman who I refused to swap seats with on Hawaiian airlines At the gate her and her husband upgraded to First but were told they would not be sitting together. When I said no she then went to the flight attendant who told that no one has to give up their booked seat. She then went to everyone on the plan asking if they would swap seats and when they refused she had the nerve to say “You’re just as selfish as him” (referring to me). At that point the Pilot came out and told her that she needs to sit down and stop complaining and insulting everyone. She then started screaming that we are all selfish. Finally the gate agent came on, reminder her that they would not be seated together and offered to refund their upgrade and move them back to their original seats so they could sit together. The husband said we will go back. She then wept the entire flight while her husband slept, but to be passive-aggressive she kept using the first class bathroom during the flight until she was told she has to use the bathroom in her cabin which she was sitting next to. Finally in Hawaii, it seems her luggage was left behind at SFO and karma did it’s job.

  103. @John Bernier geez I need a drink after reading that! So they were using points to upgrade? Funny how it’s the people who are selfish themselves always accuse everyone else of being so.

    What seat numbers did they have in F? Obviously not ones favourable enough for anyone to want to sit in.

    Often when pax decide to remain ‘together in Y’ those seats have already been reassigned to others when the upgrade is done so it gets messy and super annoying for gate agents who are trying to get the flight out on time.

  104. Sounds like EDDY BAKER (an above poster) would often make this type of unreasonable, cheap request and is keen that when he does, isn’t called out on it !!!

    This absolutely is a valid travel related article.
    The woman’s name is not released & a photo of her is not provided so I think the article is quite restrained & perfectly reasonable.

  105. I generally find people aren’t selfish. As long as they are not going to be put out too much they’ll generally comply with a reasonable & ‘fair’ switch. I have back & neck problems and given the different orientation of seat vs arm rest etc… choose my seat accordingly as some setups are more comfortable for me than others (whereas other people probably have no preference for comfort or perhaps the opposite !).
    So it might seem selfish of someone not to switch but you don’t know their personal circumstances and you should have absolutely no expectation upon them.
    I also think the way people are observed to behave prior to making a request of someone to move & the manner in which they ask plays a part. Some people you see being rude at the gate or during boarding you don’t really feel like helping !!

  106. Last week I had a fellow passenger walk onto the plane and looked at the center economy plus seat next to me. She looked at me and said “would you mind moving to the center seat because “they” are going to be cramped”…pointing at her TWO CHIHUAHUA’s! When I chuckled and said no, she had the nerve to say…”well they will probably be crawling all over for room.”

  107. @AdamW What a nerve. In other words “if you don’t give me what I want you’re gonna pay for it.” Did the dogs stay in their crate like they’re supposed to as pets or did they climb all over their ‘assistance biatch’ during the flight? Wonder if she’d even paid for economy plus and had a regular seat further back?

  108. To me, asking someone to give up their seat is no better than panhandling..”give me something for nothing to meet MY needs”.

    Want the seat? Book it. Airline problems? Be grateful you are on the plane at all. Kids? Get an FA to sort it out.

    A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

  109. I am a single female with multiple orthopedic surgeries, I plan months ahead for my seat (aisle) near the front. Being single I frequently get asked to switch seats for couples that upgrade to business, I always pick seat 2C I will often change my date to fly just to get this seat. My left shoulder doesn’t function well so I try to get off the plane quickly( not annoyingly though), depending on the plane and whats in my bag I sometimes need help pushing it up those last 2 inches, and I can get it down by myself. When I was younger I was excited to help someone else before my public service job injured my shoulder. It is difficult for me to sit in seat F to hand things back and forth with the FA. I look younger and less broken than I am, I just wish people would not just assume that you should change to a seat just because they ask. Its also difficult to get to the restroom from the window seats (Ive also had 14 orthopedic surgeries). I think if you really want to sit next to your person you should plan ahead. I will switch seats if it does exacerbate my daily pain points. I think some people thing just because they ask nicely its a done deal. When i do fly with someone I never plot and plan to ask someone to change seats or I know that I can survive 3 hours or so without them. IMHO

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