Guy Turned Down $1,500 To Switch Economy Seats

Filed Under: Videos

This story is pretty incredible, and I don’t really know what to make of it.

NFL star Cam Newton, who allegedly makes $20 million per year, was flying from Paris to the US on Friday. Apparently he was supposed to fly from Paris to Charlotte in American business class but missed his flight, and the only other option to get him home was to fly American from Paris to Dallas in economy.

I think this is probably a good time to mention that there’s almost certainly another way he could have crossed the Atlantic in business class that day, so a little bit of research may have gone a long way. I’m guessing that was just the only way American could get him there, or more accurately, the only way an American representative claimed they could get him there. Too bad he didn’t know that last-minute is often the best time to use miles for international first and business class tickets. 😉

That’s besides the point, though…

He was then stuck on a flight from Paris to Dallas in a regular economy seat. He’s 6’5″, so when he boarded he allegedly offered the guy in the exit row $1,500 to switch seats with him. He seemed to be in a regular economy aisle seat, so getting $1,500 for switching seats on a flight is insanely awesome. That’s basically $150 per hour.

The surprising part? The guy said no.

Here’s the video a fellow passenger took:

It goes without saying that it’s the guy’s prerogative to turn down the request, so we can’t blame him for that in any way. However, I’m sure many of us are saying “I would’ve taken that in a heartbeat.”

Of course we don’t know the full context here, though I would imagine that 99% of people would say yes to a seat change like this. That’s especially true when you consider this is in economy. I imagine if $1,500 weren’t anything to the guy in the exit row then he may have also considered booking business class (which I’m sure you could easily find for an extra $3,000 roundtrip).

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While we’ll probably never know why the guy said no, I do have a general theory, which is true of so many things at airports and on planes. I feel like when people get on planes they take a “survival of the fittest” approach. There’s a high level of distrust in everyone else, and we are so on edge that we don’t agree to things we’d agree to on the ground.

For example, my American flight yesterday was oversold, and they were offering to rebook people on a flight three hours later in exchange for a $700 voucher. They struggled to get takers.

Now, admittedly it’s only an American Airlines voucher and not cash, but even so, I think many people (or at least enough people) would objectively consider that to be worthwhile. However, we have such a high level of distrust in the airline industry that we suddenly lose any trust in things.

I guess my last question is why Cam Newton didn’t up his offer. Was $1,500 his “best and final” price on not being totally miserable for 10 hours? Was he paying in cash, and that’s all the cash he had? Shouldn’t he have tried to ask other people as well, or even asked people in business class to switch for more? Maybe the next time Cam needs a lift he can grab one with another team, like the Red Sox on a luxury 777.

What’s your theory on this situation?

Comments
  1. a minority person dressed in a top hat and pimp shirt offering $1500 to switch economy seats, that guy probably thought it was a scam

  2. Another article says that the guy who refused the offer was sitting next to 2 of his companions, so that is a big factor as well. The article also says Cam had a companion, so maybe it was for 2 seats, or prob the entire row??

  3. Us aviation experts are laughing at this one. Who turns down $1500 cash for an economy seat ?
    Also funny all the people that accuse the football star of being cheap and not purchasing a first class seat. It is peak travel high season surely that flight was full.

  4. The bigger question here is: why in heaven is he flying AA?
    I’m sure there must have been more pleasant options.

  5. I would have had no idea who Cam Newton was and would have thought it was strange to be offered that much money.

  6. Who ? Most people wouldn’t have a clue NFL – yawn. Some random guy thinks it’s acceptable to flash his money around.

    Most people might have assumed this was a scam and perhaps report it to the crew

  7. Yeah. I would’ve immediately thought it was a scam. If Cam pulled out an ID and was like hey I’m Cam newton of the panthers then it might’ve been different. There’s very little chance I would’ve immediately recognized him.

  8. Ahhh @anon, should just change it to “Q”anon and MAGA. Minority, code for Black. Please do yourself a favor and call it like it is and stop hiding behind your stereotypical rhetoric. BTW, white folks where “pimp” shirts as well. Just ask Robert Graham.

  9. @Ron: AA is the only airline with nonstop service from CDG to Charlotte so even if there were more pleasant options on paper, any benefits would likely have been eviscerated if 1 or even 2 layovers–probably somewhere like JFK, EWR, or ORD–were required.

    @Neil S. and @Icarus: Every person in the Charlotte region–even those who do not follow NFL football–would know exactly who Cam Newton is. Panthers news, billboards, and events are ubiquitous year-round throughout NC and SC, especially in Charlotte; you can actually see Panthers stadium when flying in or out of the airport. So any passengers with a final destination in CLT or anywhere in the Carolinas would have known him. If the passenger was merely connecting in CLT and didn’t follow the NFL, perhaps Cam would have been unrecognized, but to most of the people on the plane, I suspect he would have been instantly recognizable.

  10. I am sure the trade was involving a middle seat as this is what AA offered me the last time I was downgraded from business to economy after missing a connection due another one of their maintenance issue. On top of this, the reimbursement I got made this economy ticket twice more expensive than if I had booked economy to begin with. The following week, I was downgraded on AC received proper refund, 1500 Aéroplan and a 150$ voucher. I will never be scammed by AA again!

  11. @allen. Still to the vast majority of people .. a DYKWIA And you speak for the entire population of Charlotte and claim they know who he is ? Lol

  12. The reason why I don’t accept airline voucher offers, even when they’re nominally of high value (like the $700 voucher for 3 hour delay example) is the short 12-month expiry window. Most people don’t travel that often and aren’t committed to a single airline. So, a $700 United voucher that expires within 12 months is worth much less than face value to me. I may fly United once a year, but likely not more than that, so the probability of me being able to use the voucher, no matter it’s value is limited. If airlines weren’t so stingy and were to offer vouchers with 3, 4 or even 5-year expiry, I would be much more willing to accept being bumped in exchange.

  13. @Anon if you’re going to post comments like that at least have the guts to identify yourself.
    As for me, it would really depend. I’ve rarely been asked to switch and I’ve usually said no. I pick certain seats for a reason. I’m also 6’4 and would not have given up an exit row seat easily. But for $1500. yeah probably.

  14. Seems weird if he made the offer to just one guy. There are a number of exit-row seats on the plane.

  15. Look little schlong-man, never assume that the agent could have booked him another way. If you travel so much, then you would know that is is summer travel season and very few if any flights available on flights.

    You make a big deal about trusting the airlines but you attack before you even get out of the gate. Ignorance is no excuse DH.

  16. Guy is there with his family on a long haul flight. I don’t think it strange at all that he would refuse this. What this highlights is just how crappy AA economy seats are.

  17. Funny how some folks think they can buy anything. Ivecseen plenty of guys his size sit in economy seats. I’m sure it’s not the most comfortable, but doable. I may have made the switch if I was traveling alone, but generally people select those seats for a reason.

  18. “What’s your theory on this situation?”

    Aisle seat dude is either dumb or has lots of cash or both

  19. The airline would not allow this. If they switched the airline would make them go to their assigned seats. End of story

  20. Why did he only offer it to that one guy? There’s 9 seats in the exit row if it was a 3-3-3 configuration 787 that would normally fly that route

  21. Who is this person? Why is this a story? I’m genuinely confused by this- and I see it reported in some “news” outlets. Is this really “news”?

  22. On a flight to Portland one of the trailblazers needed the aisle seat I was in and I moved. I didn’t know who he was just that he needed my seat more than I did.

  23. Because not everyone is a peasant that would drool at the mouth at $1500 that they didnt have in the first place anyway and would have to subject themselves to more agony in order to obtain.

  24. I wouldn’t switch either, but it has nothing to do with being distrustful. Traveling with my spouse was important and the extra room was important to him too.
    People think money is the be all and end all. I turned down a thousand dollar a day request to use my poor house for filming a new movie with Robert Dinero that’s in prepreduction. Afterwards someone told us the house they selected has been mobbed by people and nobody in the neighborhood could get in or out for days. We didn’t want to upend our lives for Hollywood and they thought that was weird!

    On the other hand, if the guy had explained that he was worried his legs would cramp up–offering no money–my family would probably have offered to help somehow. Even if we all moved together. Money makes it seem like he doesn’t really need it.

  25. I wouldn’t switch either, but it has nothing to do with being distrustful. Traveling with my spouse was important and the extra room was important to him too.
    People think money is the be all and end all. I turned down a thousand dollar a day request to use my “poor” house for filming a new movie with Robert Dinero that’s in prepreduction. They thought I sas a peasant who would drool over it, and meetining the famous Dinero. I don’t care and don’t even like his work.
    Afterwards someone told us the house they selected has been mobbed by people and nobody in the neighborhood could get in or out for days. We didn’t want to upend our lives–and our neighbors’ lives– for Hollywood. They thought that was weird!

    On the other hand, if the guy had explained that he was worried his legs would cramp up–offering no money–my family would probably have offered to help somehow. Even if we all moved together. Money makes it seem like he doesn’t really need it.

  26. Sorry for the duplicate comment above.

    It’s silly to call the man “stupid” and “probably MAGA,” since you don’t know his reasons. I didn’t vote for Trump, but wouldn’t want to upend my family like that.

  27. The guy was trying to do Cam a favor and send him to his spot at the back of the plane. I think he knew Cam would appreciate the feeling up arriving in Charlotte of being behind a good line – something Cam hasn’t experienced in years.

  28. @Kevin.

    “Funny how some folks think they can buy anything“. Almost everything is for sale but the buyer has to offer a proper amount for the sale to occur. Nothing wrong with asking if the person is interested in a transaction.

    I’m nowhere near 6’5” and I think economy would be a nightmare at that size.

  29. Due to the guys height/weight. I would’ve volunteered my seat to him if I would’ve been comfortable enough in a regular isle. Whatever happened to humanity! I don’t know the whole story, but from what I’ve read I definitely would’ve given up my seat for free.

  30. I’m super lost. People think they wouldn’t recognize Cam Newton. I get that. Maybe you don’t follow football, but realistically how many 6 5, 260 lb ATHLETIC BUILT individuals have you sat next to? What else you think that person does? Work at McDonald’s ?

    In regard to Cam, if he makes $20m a year or even if he got taxed crazy and made $10m that’s still $28k a day. Just buy a different business class flight, it wouldn’t even hurt his pockets.

  31. I would have changed the seat after he explained why he needed to change,if it was because his legs cramp I would have changed without asking for money,kindness have a way to go around.

  32. @Allen

    Sorry but you are wrong. My husband and I live in the Charlotte area and we absolutely would not recognize Cam Newton. We know his name and know that he has done some great things for the community but given that we have zero interest in football we’ve never paid any attention to what he looks like.

  33. No way in Hades I’d have switched. I worked hard to get that exit row seat, and that space is important to me. More than a crummy 1500.

  34. “The reason why I don’t accept airline voucher offers, even when they’re nominally of high value (like the $700 voucher for 3 hour delay example) is the short 12-month expiry window. Most people don’t travel that often and aren’t committed to a single airline. So, a $700 United voucher that expires within 12 months is worth much less than face value to me. I may fly United once a year, but likely not more than that, so the probability of me being able to use the voucher, no matter it’s value is limited. If airlines weren’t so stingy and were to offer vouchers with 3, 4 or even 5-year expiry, I would be much more willing to accept being bumped in exchange.”

    I fly so much that the last thing I want is a stinkin’ voucher for MORE flying. Now if the airlines offered cash, they’d probably get a lot more takers even if the value is less (e.g. give $200 cash instead of a $700 voucher). If you get involuntarily bumped you can get a check on the spot for what the law says they must give you, so the agents have the ability to write checks for paying people to take other flights in place of issuing vouchers.

  35. I agree with anon.
    This guy probably is tall also and doesn’t want to trade seats and have a miserable flight only to see that it was a scam.

    I’m also wondering why Cam didn’t just try to switch seats with someone in business class, just have a $5000 trade or something…

  36. Allen says:
    June 24, 2019 at 9:59 am
    If the passenger was merely connecting in CLT and didn’t follow the NFL, perhaps Cam would have been unrecognized, but to most of the people on the plane, I suspect he would have been instantly recognizable.

    I would not have recognized Cam Newton. Of my home team, I only recognize about 2 players. Sorry.

    If he told me his name, I would have to think. Vaguely familiar but not certain. I just watch the players run around but tend to ignore names except for my home team.

  37. Some posters say he could have flown a different flight and not on AA.

    Very limited.

    CDG-CLT is a 1 pm departure, which he missed.

    1:30 DL to DTW, he probably wouldn’t make it.

    3:25 pm AA to DFW, he took that one.

    3:40 pm AF to DTW, 787, is a possibility.

    3:45 pm DL to ATL, 777, is a possibility.

    All of these arrive 11:55 pm to 12:17 am. The AA flights arrive at 12:11 am.

    That’s it unless he wants to stay overnight in a hotel in NY or somewhere else.

  38. I am a Packer fan thru and thru. But I would have definatly recognized Cam. I would have swaped seats with him for a promise to send me two side line home game tickets for the 2019 season. At least I would have seen his integrity and honesty. Chance worth taking

  39. Um, $1,500 to switch with someone in first class makes no sense. I don’t know what the actual ticket cost, but I did a quick Google search and the price that popped up was $5,000 to $10,000 for a first class seat from Paris to Dallas. That means the minimum he should have offered was $5,000 and, if he really wanted the seat, he should have offered $15,000. Or, perhaps something more valuable as is: “I’ll get you a pair of tickets to the next Super Bowl.”

  40. I’m 6’4″ and I have more legroom in a regular coach seat than in an exit row. I can fully extend my legs under the seat in front of me. In an exit row you usually have a solid bulkhead in front of you and can never fully extend your legs; they’re perpetually bent.

    Plus, don’t people in the exit rows need to be ‘approved’ by the cabin crew?

  41. People here bring race into everything. It’s a simple discussion on$1500 to switch seats. And yes I would do it in a heartbeat no matter who the person was. I’m “No Peasant”. Just part time f the working class

  42. Honestly I’ve always been opposed to 5’3 people in extended legroom seating. No one can control the rate at which they grow in height. As a mother with a son that was 6’1 at the age of 11 who had no other choice but to pay 2x’s the upgrade only to arrive at times and see a 4foot person seated with their legs crossed underneath themselves and mychild cramped bc they booked earlier. The airlines clearly need a better answer. Perhaps height at time of booking since necessity should trump desire.
    Btw. At 6ft myself. I would have relinquished my seat for free and i have done so. #payitforwardforfree

  43. A great study on greed. Some people can be bought while, for others, money isn’t the only factor in life.

    The guy chose the exit row for a reason. He obviously chose comfort over cash, and I do not blame him one bit.

  44. Was it a middle seat he was trying to trade way? I yes, then my minimum price is $10 MIL. If it was an isle or window, he can have my exit row for $500.

  45. The worst part about this story is that they are making the guy out to be a racist for not taking the money. I am 6’2″ 230 and need the exit row on a 3 hours flight and for a 10 hour flight may have offered the same. That being said, I would not have given it up for $3000 and his MANAGER or travel person should be fired for him being in that situation to begin with.

  46. I would have turned it down. I’m extremely claustrophobic and have had a panic attack in a regular economy aisle seat.

  47. The other guy could have been worth more $$$ than him. Or the guy was rushing back for (hopefully not) a sick friend/family.

  48. self entitlement of the newly rich, new money is usually the worse…

    next time, whoever you are, don’t miss your flight and you would have been in your business class seat.

    For $ 1,500, he could have almost bought a real ticket, why didn’t he just buy a ticket on any airline.

    Fake (and useless) news

  49. William

    5, 260 lb ATHLETIC BUILT individuals have you sat next to? What else you think that person does?

    Stupid and ludicrous comment. Not ever 6 ft 5 person is a basketball player, in fact, most are not.

  50. Re Lucky being offered a $700 AA voucher to take a later flight. I would have asked for cash on the spot, or no deal. A voucher ties you to a AA flight, and it would have an expiry date too. Cash is far more versatile!

  51. That passenger was 6’4”. So why would he take the 1500 bucks. He would have suffered just as much. I would have turned it down, and would have advised him that for next time, he read OMAAT.

  52. Would not have moved. Here’s why:

    1. Even if he showed me the money, as soon as I said I’ll move, he’s under no obligation to pay me. None whatsoever. All he needs to say to the flight attendant is “he said he’d move.” It’s your word against his that compensation was offered. Then it becomes a cliched “I’m rich and famous, on social media, and he’s a nobody, who do you think is going to make more trouble for you and your airline?” situation.
    2. It’s a taxable amount of money.
    3. It’s not generally a good idea as a random schmo to be carrying a ton of money through a CBP checkpoint. Good luck getting “Cam” to stick around to attest to being the guy who gave you the money once you land in DFW. He already got what he wanted out of you.
    4. Cam Newton is worth $45 million and supposedly earns $20m/year. He could arrange a NetJets (or one of their competitors) charter.
    5. There’s more than one economy exit row on widebodies like this, why is the story that this *one guy* turned him down?
    6. Owing to #1, I have every right at any time to demand my original seat back. My name’s on the boarding pass for that seat. Trading seats is entirely down to etiquette, and honestly there should likely be a law against swapping for cash since the second you enter the plane you’re on private property. Swapping seats for money would be a hell of a way to launder petty amounts of cash rather cheaply over several flights.

    It’s just a lot of potential hassle for not enough monetary gain. “Cam” would’ve probably had far more luck offering the guy and his companions luxury box seats for a Panthers home/away game at the venue of the guy’s choosing. He can probably make that happen for free and that’d be way more valuable an experience than $1500 cash in hand.

  53. I’d have taken $1500 to trade an exit row for a regular aisle. As for the $700 voucher, I’d want to have another AA flight already in mind for me to consider it.

  54. I value my comfort more than I value 1500 USD. On top of that, I don’t know him nor would I care, so I would just politely refuse.

  55. Thinking about that.. My 1st time Flying CX F a few days ago, selected my seat a long time ago, really wanted 2 or 1A but only got 2K. F was full (probably for you know what reason) and a lady (traveling alone) insisted on switching from 1K for whatever reason I couldn’t really grasp (partially due to language barrier).. Seems weird to me and requires some nerve to request seat swap on F (at least that’s how I feel it), so sad she didn’t offer even $500 I would jump in and even gladly give my Krug allocation for her!

  56. @P. Dye – I highly doubt Cam Newton would get free luxury box seats to any venue. Players don’t get luxury box seats unless they pay for them – only the head coach (usually) gets a luxury box as part of their contract but they still have to pay taxes. The NFL is super strict about what players can receive and most things go against the team’s salary cap.

    As far as the voucher goes, my coworker’s in-laws work for United and he says that you can ask for cash instead of a voucher. He said most people don’t know that and the airlines obviously don’t advertise it. I don’t know if this is true. I turned down an $800 voucher on Delta once to get bumped to a flight a few hours later. I was flying back home from a business trip but I don’t fly very often so I wasn’t prepared for the offer. Looking back, I should’ve taken it but I was tired and just wanted to get home. Taking the offer would’ve meant I would get home after midnight and I really didn’t know if I would get a chance to use it since I never fly Delta – I only flew Delta because I had limited options through my company. It was after this trip that my coworker told me I could’ve received cash. Had I known that then, I probably would’ve been inclined to take it.

  57. I’m the odd one out here but there is no way I’d switch my seat for $1500 if I was in the exit row. I’m 6’4″ and need that extra space during a flight. $1500 sounds appealing but it’s not worth my comfort for 10 hours.

  58. Hilarious! The NFL guy sounds like a moron. Such an easy problem to remedy. 1) offer someone in first class $5K for their aisle seat and be prepared to increase the $, or 2) buy a new tix on an airline that can accommodate your size and schedule.

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