Plane passenger sparks debate after refusing to swap seats with mum

Sarah Carty
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
A woman was left fuming after a mum asked her to sit in the middle seat so she could sit next to her kids. Photo: Getty Images

If you’re a frequent flyer in economy class, you’ll know how important it is to check in online and pick your seat before you get to the airport.

Otherwise, you’ll more than likely be left with the middle seat of a row, especially if you’re on your own and there are families and couples requesting seats beside each other.

But one woman has stirred a debate online, after she revealed that she refused to move from her aisle seat when a mother asked her to swap with her on a 14-hour flight.

“I booked an aisle seat on a 14-hour flight months in advance and immediately upon sitting down a lady asked if I would mind switching to a middle seat so she could sit near her kids,” the woman wrote on a Quora thread.

“I told her no and she got upset. How should I have handled this?”

Many people agreed with the woman that she shouldn’t be the one lumped with the middle seat just because the mum hadn’t booked her seats earlier in advance.

It was a 14-hour flight and the woman booked the aisle seat months in advance. Photo: Getty Images

“You're not obligated to anyone to change seats. And nobody should board a plane with the expectation that someone should switch with them when they had an opportunity to do so officially beforehand,” one person said.

“You did the right thing. Like you most of us chose our seat because that is the seat we wanted. It was almost rude of her to ask you to switch seats. I have been asked to switch with people even that also had an aisle seat but I do not. In those cases it is because I had already situated my stuff in the overhead and switching it around would be a delay,” another person said.

A commenter pointed out that asking somebody to give up their aisle seat to sit in the middle was a ‘huge ask’ and it would have turned the trip from a ‘tough adventure to a royal pain’.

One woman said she would have assessed the ages of the kids to see if there would be ‘potential issues’ throughout the flight if they weren’t sitting next to their mother.

“I would say something like ‘Hey, let’s see if we can sort this out by making a few arrangements’. The flight attendants don’t want unsurpervised kids or even crappy attitudes more than anyone else,” she said.

Another person said the woman should have shown a bit of compassion and let the woman sit beside her kids.

“If the lady was travelling with small kids who needed her help , then maybe we will have to be the better person here and give away our seat. Sometimes there are situations where humanity is much bigger than money. Everyone has different ways of looking at situations and i am not judging but just my two cents,” she said.

Oh the joys of long haul flights.

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