Flying home last week was an interesting experience. One of the exciting things was that it was the first domestic AA flight I’ve been on that has individual entertainment systems at each seat. That certainly made the four hour flight more fun! But the most interesting stuff happened at the beginning.
On this particular trip I was gone for a week. After a long week away from home I hoped I’d get upgraded, but flying on Friday I knew the chances were slim. Since I had a short time to get to my connecting flight I picked a seat up front; and since I had tons of work to do I needed an aisle. As we were waiting to board, the gate agent called me up. Did I get lucky and get upgraded? I wondered as I made my way to the counter. Alas, no. She asked if I would switch seats so a mother and child could sit together. My new seat would still be an aisle, but would be in the exit row. I was a little worried about my connection, but she assured me there would be plenty of time to make it. So I got on the plane, stowed my gear, and sat down.
The plane was mostly full when I woman stopped at my row. I stood up, assuming she needed to get into the middle seat. She then said that her boyfriend was in the middle seat across the aisle, and would I please be willing to switch so that they could sit together? I told her that unfortunately I had to work and needed access to my bag. She asked if I was sure, I said I was, and she sat down. She then leaned across me to ask the guy sitting across the aisle from me if he would switch. He said the same thing I did—that he had work to do and was sorry but couldn’t switch. He also said it was a lot to ask for someone to change to a middle seat for a four hour flight, which I agreed with. She then proceeded to ask every single flight attendant who passed us if there were other seats for them to move to. Finally, after twenty minutes of her pestering people the guy across the aisle said he would switch.
Here’s the deal. This bugged me on so many levels. First of all, the guy across from me was right—it is a lot to ask someone to give up their aisle seat for a long flight. Having to say no made me feel really mean, but everything I said was true. I needed to work, I needed access to my bag, and to be honest I get claustrophobic if I sit somewhere besides the aisle for longer than two hours. Not to mention I had already given up an even better seat so people could sit together. Finally, they were in the exit row, for Pete’s sake! Most people would have been thrilled to be there.
I just really don’t like that I felt so guilty for saying no to something that I don’t think should have been asked in the first place. They didn’t even realize they weren’t sitting together until they got on the plane. If it were so important that they be next to one another they should have checked ahead of time!
Readers, what do you think? Should I have changed seats? Was the lady out of line? What do you do when asked to change seats?
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