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WIBU re: couple hogging spare seat on plane

(129 Posts)
eslteacher Sun 24-Mar-13 14:02:58

It's a trivial one, but whatever!

So DP and I took a 9 hour flight the other day. Tickets suggested we would have adjacent seats, but due to a weirdly out of synch aisle numbering system on the plane, we ended up being an aisle and a row apart on a plane set out like this:


So he was in C and I was in D, but not on the same row. Could just about talk, but with much straining, shoulder-tapping and leaning backwards/forwards into the aisle, and with the noise of the plane and people coming down the aisle all the time it was all very awkard and uncomfortable.

Anyway, there was a couple in seats A and B on the same row as me (in D), but when the plane doors closed no one had sat in C. Perfect, I thought, DP can move into that seat. As I leant forward and said this to him, the man of the couple immediately moved onto the spare seat, and started piling their bags and coats onto the empty seat now bewteen them. The woman tapped me on the shoulder while I was mid sentence to DP, and said very firmly that they would be keeping the seat for themselves so as to be 'more comfortable' during the flight. I smiled and explained our predicament with the weird numbering and how we'd like to sit together, thinking they hadn't understood, but they just kept shrugging and broken recording me with 'no, we're keeping the seat so we can make ourselves more comfortable', while adding more and more of their stuff onto the spare seat.

At this point another random lady sitting in front on them got involved and told them they were being selfish, but they just blanked her, closed their eyes and pretended to go to sleep.

I wanted to get the air hostess involved, but DP (who reeeally hates arguments and is massively non confrontational) said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting next to them anyway now and he really didn't 't want to have to make a big scene to get the seat. So, much to my anger they ended up getting to keep their seat, while I was left to seeth with rage during the whole flight.

So anyway, since I had 9 boring hours to reflect on this I did wonder at one point if they had just as much right to the spare seat to be 'more comfortable' as we did for the purpose of sitting next to each other. AIBU in thinking they were selfish, or were they being no more selfish than us?

CandyCrushed Sun 24-Mar-13 14:27:04

I think it was a bit pushy of them but not exactly crime of the century. I think that if they nabbed it first then fair play to them.

Is there a reason you didnt book seats next to each other to start with?

eslteacher Sun 24-Mar-13 14:29:28

Hmm, interesting split of opinion so's good to see both sides.

I do feel the need to say that thezebrawearspurple we are not loud or gobby, and I'm not sure where you got that from unless its the fact that yes like most couples we would like to be able to quietly speak to each other, on and off, over the course of 9 stationary hours..

thezebrawearspurple Sun 24-Mar-13 14:31:34

Sorry for that assumption op, not sure where I got it frombiscuit

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 24-Mar-13 14:34:01

Had they paid for the seat possibly? Maybe they had had someone else in their party that couldn't make it at the last minute.

ShellyBoobs Sun 24-Mar-13 14:50:16

I would find it incredibly difficult to be arsed about who sits where.

I fly several times per month for work and if I'm travelling with colleagues, I often sit away from them purposely. I just don't see the need to sit next to someone just because you're travelling with them.

For holiday flights I'll make sure DD is sat with either OH or me but other than that we don't particularly try to sit near eachother.

Just sit wherever and read or otherwise entertain yourself instead of getting upset at not being glued at the hip to your DH!

Flights are something to be tolerated, not enjoyed, IMO.

Maat Sun 24-Mar-13 14:50:54

It would have been nice of them to let you have the seat.

However, I think if I was in their position, I would be more uncomfortable stuck in the middle seat with a stranger on the aisle as I feel claustrophobic - so I don't think it was just about having a seat for their bags.

You were only inconvenienced by not being able to chat easily.

Follyfoot Sun 24-Mar-13 15:00:47

There is a moment at the start of a long flight when the doors close and you realise that the empty seat next you is not going to be filled. Its always really nice when that happens. I hate being in the middle of three seats so if there was an empty seat next to me, that would be wonderful and it would be tempting to consider it was 'free' for my use. When the seatbelt light goes out, there's often a bit of a free for all and if they got it first, thats their good luck really.

OrangeFireandGoldashes Sun 24-Mar-13 15:03:45

Am I the only one wondering how much hand luggage the other couple had with them, and why the cabin crew didn't ask them to secure the bags in the overhead lockers when doing the pre-flight check? I've been told off before for not having pushed my handbag far enough under the seat in front!

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 24-Mar-13 15:06:29

OP... however 'non-confrontational' you say your husband is, surely if he would have wanted to sit nearer, he could have and would have made that happen, wouldn't he?

squeakytoy Sun 24-Mar-13 15:07:42

This is why I always prebook seats. It removes the problem.

Also, I should have been taking a flight with my husband and my mum some years ago. My mum died two weeks before the trip. Her seat was all booked and paid for. I didnt want anyone else sitting on the 3 seat section with us.

Montybojangles Sun 24-Mar-13 15:09:43

Having been a woman squeezed in the middle seat between my (average sided) OH and a stranger (another average build man), I would have done exactly the same thing as that couple in their situation. 9 hours is an awfully long time to be squeezed between two blokes who hog the armrests.
Take it as a life lesson to check more carefully next time you book your seats. It's never bothered me if I've had to sit apart from those I am travelling with, always carry a book, or music to listen to.

eslteacher Sun 24-Mar-13 15:10:25

CandyCrushed, there was no online check in available and were not asked to state seating preferences at check in. We checked in early and assumed we'd be put together, saw our tickets were for supposedly the same row in adjacent seats, and thought no more of it.

OrangeFire - there was a massive bag decanting operation going on in the middle seat before take off, ie getting things out of bags and piling them on the seat. I think they did put bags back under seats/into lockers when flight took off, I guess it was just coats/blankets/pillows/books etc there at that point.

lljkk Sun 24-Mar-13 15:13:16

yanbu ,they were territorial & selfish. I don't get it, either.

Welovegrapes Sun 24-Mar-13 15:15:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eslteacher Sun 24-Mar-13 15:22:08

I agree Welovegrapes! It's interesting that some posters think we were being unreasonable for not going further to claim the seat, whereas others think we were being unreasonable for already having made way too much of a fuss as it was...

thebody Sun 24-Mar-13 15:23:35

The only dread on a flight is sitting by the toddler from hell!!!

They were rude. You and your dh are pussies and should have spoken to cabin crew as soon as you realised the mix up and they would have sorted it.

You didn't so can't really complain.

BegoniaBampot Sun 24-Mar-13 15:24:54

They sound very rude but maybe your husband was happy for some peace and quiet you should have farted all over rude couple or got up to go to the loo every 5 mins if it meant climbing over them.

GreenLeafTea Sun 24-Mar-13 15:25:55

You should have just asked one of the flight attendants if they could have found you two seats together. They often can if the flight isn't full.

cocolepew Sun 24-Mar-13 15:31:02

They were incredibly rude.

VBisme Sun 24-Mar-13 15:33:54

The seat was free, everyones seat was allocated. They saw an empty seat and used it, not sure why you feel you had more right to it than them.

CandyCrushed Sun 24-Mar-13 15:39:02

No online check in for a 9 hour flight! Yikes! There must have been some way to book your seats beforehand. What about families?

At least you will know for next time to ask to sit together when you check in confused

They were rude but had as much right to claim the seats anyone else.

TheRealFellatio Sun 24-Mar-13 15:45:49

The seat didn't belong to anyone so whoever got their first gets it really

Yes. that. ^

It is one of life's great joys to find that there is a spare seat next to you on a plane so you can spread out a bit. Unless it was a case of separating a young child from its parent I'd be extremely reluctant to give up that benefit to cater to someone else's whim instead. Only one person can benefit from an unclaimed seat and I don't really see how anyone can argue that they have priority over anyone else in this situation. Both sets of people are looking to gain an advantage that they are not strictly entitled to, so it has to be the nearest person, unless someone else gets there first, imo.

Those people clearly checked in early in the hope of that single seat not being filled, and you clearly didn't check in early enough or you'd have managed to sit together. Your loss.

No-one chats much on a plane anyway.

BegoniaBampot Sun 24-Mar-13 15:54:37

Yes,we all give a silent yeah when we have a spare seat next to us. But if someone explained they would like their other half/ child or whatever to sit there then who would continue to sit their hogging it for their handbag of hanky. Saying that, was on long haul recently and the plane had loads of spare rows (4 seats together). The scramble once the seat let sign was off was funny. Luckily I had a whole 4 seats to myself!

ModernToss Sun 24-Mar-13 16:04:14

I can't imagine not saying yes in this couple's position.

Me neither, but flying brings out the very worst in people. There's a special level of hell reserved for those arseholes who push their seat backwards into your knees without so much as an 'Excuse me' or 'Do you mind?'

LinusVanPelt Sun 24-Mar-13 16:04:51


It wasn't important for you to have your DH beside you (as others have said, it would have been different if you were travelling with your young child or someone else who needed looking after), except for your own comfort and convenience.

It wasn't important for them to have an empty seat between them, except for their own comfort and convenience.

They were no more selfish than you were. It would have been kind of them to let you have the seat, and it would have been kind of you not to have made an issue of letting them keep the seat. As it stood, with them getting there first and you trying to make them feel guilty about doing exactly what you were going to do (i.e. claim the good fortune of an empty seat as your own), I think good for them for letting you pressure them into prioritising your comfort over their own.

The only person I feel sorry for in this situation is the person sitting next to your DH, who must have been temporarily delighted to think that the empty seat was going to be besider her / him, only to be disappointed when you didn't succeed in getting your own way. smile

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