Let me preface this post by stating I look at things mostly from a logical point of view and nothing I say or do is meant with any disrespect. I have respect for my fellow passengers and have usually obliged requests to move so people can sit together, all else being EQUAL.
Now, this is a situation that happened to me last weekend on my trip to Anchorage and back. I had booked the trip back in July after noticing some great fares ex-NYC and BOS to ANC. Having done this trip in 2013 as well, I knew the upgrades would be tough for an ExPlat on AA (both my DFW-ANC and ANC-DFW cleared at the gate). So I decided it would be worth it to me to use 2 eVIP upgrades to confirm my first class seats. I selected 2E and it was done.
Fast forward to last weekend I checked in for my return ANC-DFW segment, all was good. I hung out in the AS Board Room for what seemed like forever, and due to boredom I did check the available seats in F and there were a handful open including 2A and 2F. I also checked the AA app on my iPad and sure enough, the upgrade list was pretty long, so I PROBABLY would have received the battlefield upgrade. No matter, I was confirmed and that always sets my mind at ease. I watched my plane land from DFW a little late, around 8p. Our departure was scheduled for 8:45p and still showed on time.
So, I headed to the gate in no rush around 8:20p. Boarding was still in progress so I just used the Priority AAccess lane and went right onboard through door 2L. Since I was boarding last in the F cabin I knew finding overhead space might be tough, but I found a spot for my roll aboard bag. As I was lifting my bag into the overhead bin, I overheard 2A speaking to 2F “I think that’s him, I’ll go ahead and ask him for you.”
I knew what was coming at that point…
I walked further forward to my seat and was about to sit down. Then 2A half gets up and says loud enough for the entire F cabin to hear, “excuse me sir, but would you mind switching seats with the PREGNANT lady in 2F so she doesn’t have to climb over you to use the restroom the entire flight.” All eyes are on me in the F cabin but I’ve got pretty thick skin. I simply told him “sorry, I don’t do window seats.” The look on his face was mild shock, and he mumbled to himself “don’t do window seats…well, ok then.” That was that, he then sat back down.
The flight ended up being delayed an hour on the ground, but eventually we took off. Being an AVgeek I would LOVE to have a window seat and watch the world fly by below me, however I also know my bodily limits and functions, so I specifically select aisle seats when I travel. I don’t like having to bother my seat mate every time I need to get up. On this particular flight, it was roughly 6 hours in the air and probably because the FOOD was so bad I drank more than usual and had to get up to use the bathroom 3 times. So did my seat mate in 2F, and she was very courteous to me 2 of the 3 times by getting up to go at the same times I did. That’s also what I try to do when I have no choice but a window seat, so I appreciated that.
So, here’s my take
Traveling can be stressful and not a whole heck of alot of fun when you’re on crutches, pregnant, or just feeling sick. But if you have a situation where you need more space or comfort, you need to be willing to pay for it, either by purchasing it outright or using instruments to upgrade. In the end I could have probably received a complimentary ExPlat upgrade at the gate in ANC. But did I really want to risk it on a 6 hour red-eye? Nope, and that’s one reason I used an instrument to confirm the upgrade. Seeing as 2A and 2F were empty seats an hour prior to departure, and were related in some way, I’m going to assume they received upgrades at the gate. Unfortunately, gate upgrades are given whatever seats are left and that’s what happened here.
Now, like I said above, all else being equal, I don’t mind switching (i.e. and aisle for aisle). But when that’s not the case, it won’t happen with me no matter how nicely I’m asked. That’s just me. While perhaps relevant, and may have an effect on the psyche of some people, bringing up the fact that 2F is pregnant and needs an aisle seat only brings me back to my point above. If you need it, you should pay to confirm it in advance. The other thing about this situation is that it was totally unnecessary to ask so loud that the entire cabin could hear. I don’t know if it was intentional to try to make me feel guilty or not, but it was nonetheless unnecessary. That being said, I do understand the other side of the argument and can appreciate it. All you can do is ask, and maybe next time if you ask on a 2 hour flight…I’ll say yes.
P.S. The views and opinions of each individual writer does NOT reflect the opinions of another or the general Fly2Travel blog.