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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?

MrsKoala Mon 25-Mar-13 16:41:17

But Shew they didn't give their bags priority, her DH already had a seat, just one row along. They gave their comfort priority over the couple chatting. they just put their stuff on the seat to mark it as unavailable - i presume it was their arms and legs which received the benefit of the extra seat, not their bags. I would also not move my child who had a seat onto my lap so someone who already had a seat could have a chat.

shewhowines Mon 25-Mar-13 16:32:58

You have the moral high ground here I think. Your need was greater than theirs. The random woman thought so too.

At least you can rest easy on the fact that loads of the surrounding people occupied themselves for 9 hours, thinking how selfish these people were, too.

I think it is unreasonable not to move a child onto your knee to let an adult sit down. It's even more U to give your bags a priority over people.

There are some very selfish people in this world.

MrsKoala Mon 25-Mar-13 16:27:18

hhmmm i must say i would have done exactly what the couple did. I have really bad knees (numerous surgeries, metal pins etc) and we always try to get 3 seats with one between, if possible, so i can sit diagonally. I would say me not being in agony and wincing for 9 hours trumps peoples need to have a chat.

I have also developed neighbour repelling tactics. I sit down and immediately get out egg sandwiches and eat them with my mouth open while smiling madly at people as they survey for seating. It ensures i am always the last person to be sat next to grin

woozlebear Mon 25-Mar-13 16:16:10

How does anyone have any greater claim to a spare seat than anyone else?

The coincidental timing you describe makes them seem a bit childish, but otoh you sound a bit childish too, tbh, to get so wound up about it.

I don't think I'd be able to outright refuse someone who asked of their DP took a seat next to me, otoh the way you describe the effort you and your DP were going to to talk to each other accross aisles/rows, maybe they were worried if he sat next to them he'd be gabbing away for 9 hours?

All's fair in love, war and long haul flights smile

CandyCrushed Mon 25-Mar-13 16:14:40

I like to sit next to my partner/kids when I fly and I always make sure this happens by not using economy airlines and making sure I can always book my seat ahead of time. I also use SeatGuru.

I still think YABU. I bet you could have prebooked your seats if you had wanted. You chose not to prebook therefore I think you shouldn't be annoyed that you didn't get the seats you wanted.

knittingirl Mon 25-Mar-13 15:24:35

So the other couple ended up with an extra seat which they hadn't paid for, whereas your dh would have taken the empty seat and vacated his, thus only taking the seat he had paid for. From that point of view, they were being selfish and didn't have any "right" to lay claim to the seat.

OTOH, I don't think it's worth getting your knickers in a twist about smile

eslteacher Mon 25-Mar-13 14:36:41

Technically we were on the plane first, way before they got on. I would also be highly surprised if they checked in before us, since we were in the front 10% of the queue. But I take your point that they moved physically into the free seat first. We were going to wait til after take off.

I'd love to have seen their reaction to me taking their middle seat. Somehow I doubt they would have accepted that.

What about all the other people in middle seats on the plane, most of whom will have had a stranger on one side?

I'm surprised this thread has got so far - I think every angle of analysis has been covered, and there still seems to be roughly a 50-50 YABU/YANBU divide. Looks like stalemate to me...

Oh and if you were really put out you could have insisted on having their extra seat in the middle and I'm guessing they still would rather upgrade their middle seat. I've sat in the window with one of my family members sitting in the aisle with a stranger sat between us and we've declined swapping because we wanted aisle and window and sat there deliberately.

Yes that is my perspective OP. I don't expect to sit with my DH on a flight. I definitely prefer to do so, but then I also definitely prefer not to be wedged in the middle seat next to a stranger.

You are looking at it as them getting an extra seat whereas I'm looking at it as them getting to 'upgrade' their yucky middle seat to an aisle and gaining an extra seat in the process.

Either way you were both looking to gain a seat that neither of you were entitled to but hoping for and they were there first. You shouldn't have assumed you could move there without asking them first anyway at which point they probably would have told you that they were planning to switch seats as soon as the doors closed.

eslteacher Mon 25-Mar-13 14:13:48

lol comfy, I love your mathematical workings. Especially as they end up validating my stance wink

Yes, random lady next to DP and in front of offending couple, was part of a couple herself. Maybe this is why she saw fit to intervene and tell offending couple they were being selfish, she wanted DP to move thus getting that spare seat and 10/10 flight herself!

cumfy Mon 25-Mar-13 12:57:44

Hmmmm, well to be fair, I've thought about this even more hmmhmm....

What about the people in DH's row (was that "random woman" in a couple ?)

We really need to consider the utility of all 3 sets (couples?) of people.

Were it to be the case that DH's flight-companions were a couple (and I think from the description they were) then they would have had a 10/10 flight if DH had moved, and thus the total utility of all 3 "couples" would be maximised in riverboat's configuration.

So actually I have changed my mind to YANBU.blushgrin

cumfy Mon 25-Mar-13 12:22:55

Put another way:

If you had a return 9 hr flight with a seating arrangement per leg would you prefer to have:

1. each half of the seating configuration, as happened
2. each half of the seating configuration, as you proposed

I would strongly prefer 1, and think most people would.

cumfy Mon 25-Mar-13 12:15:17

Whereas having a spare seat next to you is a massive luxury

YY. This is really my point (upthread) about maximising the "utility" or happiness of the 2 couples:

As it was they had a 10/10 flight you had a 5/10. Average 7.5
If riverboat's solution was adopted it would have been 7/10 them and 6/10 for you. Average 6.5

Indeed it's precisely the point that it's a massive luxury for them and only somewhat less inconvenient for you that makes their solution better.

Do you see that bigger picture ?

Katiepoes Mon 25-Mar-13 12:08:26

By the way Barred - stowing bags is only needed for takeoff and landing.

Katiepoes Mon 25-Mar-13 12:07:37

They were making the most of the space, I would have done the same. How is your comfort sitting next to your husband more important? I fly frequently for work and trust me, that extra space from having no neighbour is not something I'd hand over easily.

tomverlaine Mon 25-Mar-13 11:49:29

YABU- if your DH had been moved then one of the couple would have had the middle seat crammed in which would have been horrible for nine hours. So their downside was worse than yours -

Welovegrapes Mon 25-Mar-13 11:41:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MintyyAeroEgg Mon 25-Mar-13 11:33:29

riverboat - come on, you know people just like to be contrary Marys on here smile.

BarredfromhavingStella Mon 25-Mar-13 11:31:24

Why didn't the cabin crew tell them to stow the bags either in the overhead lockers or under the seats as is the requirement on any flight? hmm

eslteacher Mon 25-Mar-13 11:09:29

Well I guess I thought they were selfish because sitting with your travelling companion/s is a reasonably normal expectation, seeing as airlines don't just randomly allocate people all over the place thinking no one will care.

Sitting in a middle seat, again normal expectation given that a good proportion of seats on any plane are middle seats.

Whereas having a spare seat next to you is a massive luxury. And they wanted their luxury over my reasonable expectation.

But I see from this thread that a lot of people see sitting with your companion as a luxury, rather than something they would expect by default or even particularly want. Which surprises me, but I absolutely agree that if you have that perspective, I am just as selfish as the couple in my post.

samandi Mon 25-Mar-13 09:21:21

They were being rude and selfish. And actually you did have more right to it if you had requested (or wanted) seats next to each other. Selecting seats is so much more complicated these days. I tried with DP to select better seats for our flight, we checked in 48 hrs in advance as requested but there were apparently only two seats sitting together left! Work that one out.

DiscoDonkey Mon 25-Mar-13 09:18:56

Another time we on a flight and everyone was boarding the plane a lady sat on the aisle seat was already seated with her baby and had started to feed it and refused to move to let us sit down! "I will move when my baby finished feeding" even when the stewardess came along she was adamant she wasn't moving. The stewardess wasn't taking any shit though as it was going to hold up the flight and she did move eventually, but seriously wtf?!

DiscoDonkey Mon 25-Mar-13 09:14:37

They were selfish IMO. But flights seem to bring out the worst in people. I spent a flight seething because the single man sat next who was built like a Arnold swartznegger was offered a spare seat in first class if he wanted it but he declined! So I spent the flight in the middle seat pressed up against dh. Honestly the bloke was huge why? Why would you decline a first class seat? The stewardess did offer it to me but it seemed a tad mean to leave dh on his own in cattle class. See me? Considerate. Body builder? Knob.

TheRealFellatio Mon 25-Mar-13 09:03:51

Exactly Self.

Why was it being selfish? Both of you wanted the seat. No one likes sitting in the middle seat anymore than they like being separated from the rest of the party.

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