In fact, if you’re anything like me, you check your seat so often it borders on slight obsession. Maybe this will be the time that ideal aisle seat in the Main Cabin Extra section appears! But as much as it surprises me I find that there are still passengers who don’t look at their seat assignment prior to their flight, and are shocked—shocked, I tell you!—that they are sitting in the middle. Or in the last row. Or next to a lav. Or—the horrors!—they’re not sitting next to their significant other.
What happens then? They ask to switch seats with someone. I witness it on almost every flight—the traveler pauses by their row, looks surprised, double checks with their boarding pass, and then the wheels start turning. Who around here is the biggest sucker? they wonder as the look at the nearby rows. I’ve even heard of people deliberately sitting in the wrong seat and refusing to move!
I’m actually lucky—while I see people asking to switch seats all the time, I don’t get asked that often. (Although when I do it’s a doozy, like the post linked above.) In fact the Home Warrior and I were discussing seat switching this weekend. He assumed that because Southwest doesn’t have assigned seats that people would ask to switch more—maybe they have less respect for the non-assigned seats? But in my experience it’s actually been the opposite—people know that Southwest has a slightly chaotic boarding system and almost expect to get a bad seat. But on American and other airlines that assign seats people expect good seats and then are surprised when they don’t get them.
The last time I flew, I saw at least three people ask to switch seats with someone. The main reason given was that they wanted to sit with their traveling companion. I totally understand wanting to sit by your friends or family, but people have ample opportunity to make sure they are sitting where they want before their flight. So for those who don’t fly often, please check your seat assignment before you get to the airport. If it’s not a seat you’re happy with, you have a few options. You can change your seat yourself (often times this requires a fee) or you can contact customer support and see if they can help you.
If you are traveling with small children and you aren’t seated together, please ask a flight attendant or gate agent for assistance. (Although obviously it’s best if you check your seat assignment ahead of time!)
Remember, once you get on the plane it’s a terrible time to ask someone to switch with you. Chances are good the person in that aisle seat you’re coveting paid a premium for it, whether in cash or time. And if someone asks you to switch with them, you are perfectly within your rights to say, “No thank you. I’m comfortable here.” If someone harasses you or refuses to move out of your seat get a flight attendant to help you.
Readers, do you witness people attempting to switch seats often? Do you see it more on airlines that don’t assign seats or those that do?
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