How Not to Get an Aisle Seat

Old May 30th, 2006, 02:15 PM
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KT
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How Not to Get an Aisle Seat

I don't usually post whines, but this sad story of airline impoliteness actually amused me at the time with its presumption.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were flying from SFO to Munich in cattle class, and had selected aisle seats across from each other months in advance. When we boarded, both of our seats were firmly occupied by a couple, though the rest of the row was empty. We showed them our bording passes, and politley asked to see theirs. They had the two center seats in the center section. We explained the lettering system, thinking that perhaps they were new to air travel.

That's when the husband said that he had a heart condition and his wife had arthritis, so they needed aisle seats. (I'm not sure about how an aisle seat helps with a heart condition....) We asked whether they'd asked fo help in getting suitable seats at booking or boarding. He just repeated that they wanted these seats and weren't moving. We suggested asking the flight attendant to help find them other seats. No dice.

As it happened, I was having moderately bad back pain myself at the time, so I didn't have too much patience for their self-help solution. Perhaps if they'd asked first, I might have taken pity, but grabbing our seats and refusing to leave wasn't the way to persuade me. Finally, when we said we were going to get the FA to straighten things out, they moved.

So for those of you who ask how to book good seats, you could try their technique. Just get on board and pick out the ones you want.

P.S. They never did ask the FA for help, but they walked the aisles asking people to switch until they found some soft touches who did. That's when we saw them haul two huge carry-ons from the overhead--rather amazingly, considered their frail health.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:24 PM
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That stinks. It's amazing how rude people can be.

What I like to do when I fly is book a window and an aisle. Usually it works out that no one sits between us as the middle seats are the last ones they fill. But if someone does show up, one of us takes the middle so we can sit next to each other, and the person who was supposed to be in the center is happy because they now have a better seat.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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Kt, sounds like you were put it the unfortunate position of having to play the heavy. That is, somehow it's "your fault" (in their eyes) if you didn't give up the seats that were rightly yours.

If it were an hour flight, I really wouldn't care, but San Francisco to Munich? I don't think so. That was premeditated rudeness on their part. Glad you held your ground.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:21 PM
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I guess they thuoght they were flying on Southwest.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:45 PM
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SamH, good one!!

KT, you did the right thing and it was THEY who were rude. On long flights I also prefer an aisle seat. Like you, I might give it up if someone asks politely, but they're not going to just take it from me. Well done on your part.

You've given me a great idea with this technique for getting the best seats, when you said just take a seat you like. Next time I fly overseas, I will sit in First Class and hope nobody complains. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky, the seat won't already be taken, and nobody will ever know. heehee....
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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That's pretty amazing. On my vacations, I really don't like being asked to change seats in most cases. I pick my seat out way in advance too (in fact, I think I've had the same seat number so often it's almost become my lucky number). There are exceptions.

However, I've had people in the center seats of business class on trans-Atlantic flights - 2-3-2, ask to switch my aisle seat for theirs. "Uh, no thank you." But I don't even like being put on the spot.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 06:24 PM
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And you know what else? Since the rest of the row was emppty, they had no way of knowing when they sat down that my seat, the aisle seat in the outer 3-seat section (seat C), didn't belong to somebody who wanted to sit next to somebody in seat B. For all they knew or cared, they'd just split up a couple or family. That's one reason I was so amazed--I mean, it would never occur to me to just pick a seat like that.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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Wow, can I relate to this one!

A few years back, I had to fly unexpectedly from Ottawa to Newfoundland because my father was critically ill and not expected to live. I always book a window seat, far far in advance. This time, I was lucky to get one on short notice. I was paying compassionate fare (which still was way, way higher than all the other economy pax). I wanted to be left alone in my window seat to contemplate the view and all of life's great mysteries, looking for meaning to it all.

Our flight stopped in Montreal for an hour, where I deplaned to stretch my legs. I left all of my belongings in the seat back pocket, under the seat in front and a book and bag of chips on the seat itself. When I reboarded, I found a newly-boarded mom and 6 year old daughter in my row, occupying the window and aisle seats. All of my stuff had been unceremoniously dumped into the middle seat!

"Ummmm. - I believe your daughter is sitting in my seat?"

" Well - she's only 6 and she wants a window seat - I'm sure you don't mind!"

" Umm - well, yes actually I do. I'll be happy to change seats with her later for a short time so she can see the scenery for a short while."

Much huffing and hmphhing and finally a change back.

After I settled back into my seat, I started to feel a bit bad.

Until the mom and daughter started conversing in French, assuming that I didn't, as an anglohone understand. Wrong!

"Mommy - why can't I have the window seat ?"

"Because that's a bad, mean woman"

The conversation went on to reveal that mom and daughter were flying down to PEI for the 10-15th time in 2 years to stay at the family summer home and flying free on hubby's business privileges. Daughter did not care to even look out the window at all, as it was all old hat to her.

It's a matter of "entitlement", and it pretty much sucks - whatever the reason.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 06:33 PM
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Two recent experience:

1. Flying on Continental's 735. You have to see the map to understand:

http://seatguru.com/airlines/Contine...37-500_New.php

I have one of the best 2 seats in coach, 14F. When I boarded, a young couple - who look highly educated & educated - were sitting at 14E & F. I walked up there, told them I have the window seat. The girl tried to play dumb and pretend she doesn't know which seat is D, E or F; I walked through Row 12 and just stood right in front of her (again, look at the map) until she moved.

I mean, that's a prized seat. You think the person who knows about and who can reserve that seat will give it up? You must be kidding.

2. Flying CO's 772 EWR-HKG. I have my favorite seat, 44A. http://seatguru.com/airlines/Contine...ng_777-200.php
Well, when I boarded, a guy was already in 44B, so after I settled, I started chatting with him, about Hong Kong, China travel, etc. Then, an older lady with a walking stick showed up and demanded his seat. Turned out, he has something like 42B, and was hoping the 44B won't show. Yeah, good luck with that. It was around Christmas and there were 20 people on the waitlist just to get on. What a crook.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:10 PM
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I do recall one other time in particular that somebody stole my seat. It was in business class! (Sure, you get a a more polite class of people up there--yeah, right.) I've only flown business a couple of times, so this was a big treat for me (Amsterdam-SFO). I'd picked out a nice seat, based on things including the way I normally turn and sprawl when I sleep.

When I boarded, some college-age guy was in my seat. He wanted to be near his parents who were across the aisle (and who had given him the ticket as a gift). It wasn't that big a deal, so I took the seat next to it, which was his. But alas I was too polite to say what I was thinking: "Jeeze, how about asking first? Were you raised by wolves?"

Turns out that he said about three words to his parents on the whole flight, too.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:19 PM
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Saharabee, that's pretty funny. I hope you were thoughtful enough, even in your state of distress, to wish the two a nice vacation. In French, of course.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:38 PM
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14F on a CO 735 is pretty much wasted on a short person, imho
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:47 PM
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Hahaha... Yeah, those two seats 14A/F are so nice. I usually put my small carryon on the floor as a foot rest, if someone's sitting in 12B/E. If nobody's there, I can even put my leg up on that armrest.

In fact, it's probably better than the domestic FC on the 735s.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 08:38 PM
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I have a big soft spot in my heart for the elderly, so I'll play the devil's advocate and say it could be that they "needed" aisle seats to get up and walk around on a long flight b/c of their conditions (arthritis and more urgently, a heart condition- clots are a factor). But still, pretty darn rude. If they'd just notified a flight attendent before boarding, I'm sure the proper avenues would've yielded them some mercy.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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Planes,concerts,ballgames.... rude people have the nerve to take someone else's seat,without a thought of the annoyance they're causing.I think alot of them bank on the other person not wanting to create a scene...send em' packing-usually back to the nosebleeds or their middle seat!
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Old May 31st, 2006, 06:23 AM
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I agree with Carrybean about being put on the spot. I donít mind being asked to swap aisle for aisle, or middle for middle, but aisle for middle? Iíd gladly help, and I have, if itís an even swap and politely asked.

After all of these years of flying, I guess Iíve been lucky not to have seen the rudeness that KT and others have run into. Maybe I should not check-in my naivety, thinking that no one would purposely take anotherís seat.

Sarahbee, please tell me you let the lady (incorrect word, but it will have to do here) that you spoke French! Ah, I wanted to hear about the look on her face!
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Old May 31st, 2006, 08:28 AM
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Philosophy is apparently: you can get away with whatever you can get away with. If the other guy blinks, you win.

Where else do we see that?
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Old May 31st, 2006, 08:39 AM
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On a flight from Dallas/Ft Worth to Delhi, I had the aisle seat on a 3 side. We stopped in London for an hour and I and the lady in the window seat got off to buy some sandwiches.

When we returned, a man was in my seat and his wife in the window. They had been in middle seats on the last leg and wanted aisle/window . . . they would not move. I started off being nice but he kept saying his wife wanted a window and that we could have their seats.

I went to the FA and she asked them to move but they refused. The lady originally in the window seat didn't want to cause a scene so she agreed to move to their middle seats.

I'm old, 5'2", 120 lbs but I told the guy he could either get out of my seat or I'd throw him out, his choice. He begrunginly moved to the middle (empty) seat next to his interloper wife. Needless to say, we didn't bond on the long flight.

I'll never understand how some people can be so rude.

Sandy (in Denton)
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Old May 31st, 2006, 09:46 AM
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Lynnejoe, I tend to be considerate of the elderly, too, but this couple wasn't elderly--they looked about my age. Anyway, as you said, the solution still isn't to grab somebody else's seat. Neither my elderly mom who walks with a cane nor my good friend who has a wheelchair would be as pushy as those folks were.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 09:53 AM
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Go get 'em Sandy! Well done.

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