Mind Your Own Business, Mr. Airplane Traveler

by admin on May 6, 2014

A story about a flight I took in 2011 with my sister and best friend.

The plane setup: 6 seats per row with an aisle between seats three and four.

The background: A couple was sitting in the row ahead of us. The wife had the window seat. The husband had the aisle seat. There was an empty seat between them. There was a family sitting in the aisle across from the husband and wife. The seated family consisted of a child, an older man and a woman. There was a fourth member of the family, another older woman who was assigned to the seat between the husband and wife. She was talking to her traveling companions and helping them settle in before she took her seat. Finally ready to sit, she asked the husband if he would get up so she could get to her seat.

He refused.

The guy requested to see her ticket. She looked shocked and asked why he would need to see her ticket. She wouldnt show it to him. Not only did he not have the right to see it, it does have her personal information on it. The flight attendant noticed something amiss and came over, looked at her ticket. The flight attendant told the man he had no right to see the ticket and demanded the man allow the woman to sit. The man refused. He insisted that he had a right to see her ticket to make sure it was her seat.

The flight attendant said the man did not work there so he had no right to see anything and demanded the man get up so the woman could slide into the row. The man kept refusing. He said he believed the woman hadn’t paid for the ticket of the little boy she was traveling with (who sat in the adjacent row with his dad) and was trying to get a free seat. The attendant told him that wasn’t true and it wasn’t the guy’s business anyway.

They kept going round and round with the guy still refusing to allow the woman access to the seat.

The flight attendant started procedures to have him removed from the flight but after being talked to by multiple attendants the man finally was going to let her sit. It was obvious however that there would be issues between the two if they sat together. In the end, the woman got moved up to 1st class, and the man was told he would be charged to cost of her seat because he refused to let her sit.

The guy’s wife stayed quiet during most of the exchange until she heard that they might get thrown off the plane and only then did she tell him to shut up and let the woman sit. He wasn’t listening to her though. When another flight attendant came around to tell him he would have to pay for an extra seat, the wife lied and said they weren’t told the woman’s ticket had been checked by the 1st attendant. The 2nd flight attendant didn’t believe her. 0504-14

{ 232 comments… read them below or add one }

Charliesmum May 6, 2014 at 8:26 am

Wow. Some people are just weird.

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Lo May 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

“In the end, the woman got moved up to 1st class, and the man was told he would be charged to cost of her seat because he refused to let her sit.”

Sweet, sweet justice

Good on the airline!

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

Exactly. The airline did all the right things here, and I’m glad the flight wasn’t sold out so that the woman could be moved. Could you imagine being stuck next to someone like that for so many hours? You know he’d be fighting everything – the armrest, getting up to use the restroom, any entertainment you may have brought, etc. Ugh.

I can understand being disappointed that there is someone sitting between – it’s always awesome to get that middle seat empty. We usually get the aisle/middle seats and the rare times when the window has been unsold, I can move over to that seat and we can relax a little easier. I could even see asking to see her ticket. But really, that would only have cause if she were asking to sit in HIS seat – I’ve seen that scam attempted before in order to score a “preferred” seat – not an empty seat. But once she refused to show him and the flight attendent verified the seat, the man had zero cause to continue to be obstinate.

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Calli Arcale May 6, 2014 at 12:10 pm

If my husband and I were assigned seats D and F and this woman had asked my hubby to get up so she could slide in next to him, I know exactly what hubby would do. He’d slide into the middle seat and offer his to her instead so she could be closer to her party. That’s the logical approach, after all, and frankly the courteous thing to do. But being a total jerk about someone sitting in seat E? Unless the objecting husband had himself paid for that seat, no way. I mean, seriously, he had to have known *someone* would eventually be sitting there. I can understand wanting to be adjacent to your husband, but why not arrange that during checkin? Or ask to swap? Trying to bluster someone else out of using the seat they paid for so that you can have an *empty* seat between you and your spouse . . . that’s sheer jerk behavior.

I was really hoping to hear about him being ejected from the flight for refusing to comply with flight crew instructions, but the way this ended is even better. The inconvenienced woman got an upgrade, and the jerk had to pay for her original seat.

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Shalamar May 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm

“I mean, seriously, he had to have known *someone* would eventually be sitting there.”

You’d think so, but I’ve encountered the eyeroll and heavy sigh from fellow passengers who apparently thought that, despite the flight being full, they’d have their row to themselves. The last time I flew, I even got a surly “That figures” from someone in the aisle seat whom I had to ask to temporarily get up so that I could sit down. (I might add that this guy repeatedly elbowed me in the ribs every time he shifted position. I get that we were packed in like sardines, and to be fair he didn’t hurt me, but he never apologized – not even once.)

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Ellie May 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

People do act surprised that they have to share the plane with others, don’t they? Coming back from our honeymoon, my husband and I boarded the plane and found another couple already sitting in our seats. The funny part was that as we stood there saying “Excuse me… excuse me…” they focused on the window and pretended not to hear us! Like maybe we would just give up and sit elsewhere. When the flight attendant came up to check our tickets and asked them to move, all they said was ‘Oh, we thought it was first-come first-serve.” Turns out they had booked seats that were not together and the woman was afraid of flying, so they just sat together anyway hoping no one would notice!

Amanda H. May 6, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Shalamar, I suspect that’s because some people get the aisle and window seats in a given row in the hopes that no one purchases the middle seat (due to inconvenience and it being a less-preferred location). My husband and I have done that before when traveling with a lap child, but then we weren’t sucky about it when 99% of the time the seat was bought anyway. We just asked to switch with whoever got it so we could be next to each other. We don’t try it anymore mostly because we have multiple children now who all need their own tickets, but also because airlines are so keen these days on overselling all their flights that there never seems to be an unsold seat anywhere.

EchoGirl May 7, 2014 at 12:41 am

Well, some people don’t know for a fact the flight’s going to be full — I’ve been on flights where I expected them to be empty and they were packed. Conversely, I’ve gotten empty seats next to me when I was sure I’d be sitting with someone — the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my mom, brother, and I each got a two-seat row to ourselves on one leg of our flight, and we were all shocked. We’d assumed there would be no open seats.

HelenB May 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

One thing that might also be happening (maybe not in this case, since it was a few years ago) is that flyers haven’t yet adjusted their mental perception of how full a flight will be, to match up with how many airlines are running the business now.

There used to be more flights, and it was more likely that if a couple purchased an aisle and a window seat, that the middle seat might not be sold. Now many airlines are offering fewer flights, making the remaining flights much, much more full.

I know that the last time I flew, I’d hoped for an empty seat in the row my husband and I were in, but the flights were packed.

Shalamar May 7, 2014 at 8:48 am

“Oh, we thought it was first-come first-serve.” Geez, Ellie, how can anyone be so obtuse?

This is a bit different, but I remember travelling in first class for business once, and a lady boarded the plane and promptly starting complaining about having to sit in economy. She pointed to the (so far) empty seats in first class and whined “Those seats aren’t even being used! Why can’t I sit there?” The flight attendant explained politely that those seats were in fact booked; the passengers just hadn’t boarded yet.

NostalgicGal May 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm

@ echogirl….
All it takes is for people to be going from hub to hub (involving one coast) and having the weather erupt viciously ugly between point A and point B for the flights to quickly become standing room and pray. I had that happen to me last summer, I hit the airport supposedly 2.5 hours early for my flight (high noon arrival for 2:35 boarding) as a walkon (no luggage and a laptop carryon) and found just that and my flight was already an hour and a half late on schedule and slipping further. And most of the space between there and where I needed to make connections was painted RED on the weather maps. I immediately started to play ‘get on board’ anything and after attempting three flights ended reticketed on my original flight now running over four hours late to board and the flight before it which had been the 1:20; boarding at the same time. I walked to the front of the line as I was on standby on that one #1 slot and said I have ticket on the next one, I’m forfeiting the standby. As it was my connector was in the air 20 minutes at the time the one I was on landed, and by the time I got onto the concourse, 45… There was no pretense on upgrade waiting by 2:30 at that airport I was trying to leave; and the next morning those that missed the last flight out of the connecting hub; accepted what had to be the smallest hopjet I had ever seen, with a non functioning bathroom (they warned us before we got on, and for some reason they couldn’t give away coffee on that flight) just to get home. It’s only going to get worse, I’m afraid…

Jen May 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

Something very similar to your hypothetical situation happened to me the very first time I flew.

My then boyfriend (now husband) and I were traveling to Las Vegas. He got Seat D (aisle seat) and I was supposed to be in Seat C (aisle seat directly across from him). There was some woman in my seat who actually should have been in Seat A, but insisted on sitting in my seat because she wasn’t feeling well. Not wanting to cause a scene since I was nervous enough about taking my first flight ever, I sat in her seat near the window. Boyfriend and his seat-mates called the flight attendant over and insisted that the woman get back in her seat because he wanted me close by in case I freaked out from my first flight. Fortunately, the flight wasn’t too crowded and she was able to be moved to another aisle seat. And fortunately, I was just fine.

But, yes, I would do the same exact thing. I think people should be able to be together as much as it would be allowed.

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AnaMaria May 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I’m sure he was upset that a stranger would be sitting between him and his wife- that’s always awkward- but why not let the poor lady sit, and then once the plane took off, ask nicely if she would like to switch so he could be next to his wife and she could be across from her family??

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JO May 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Yes, yes, yes! You said it perfectly.

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Kate May 6, 2014 at 8:37 am

This is post 9/11? The man should have been thrown off the flight. He temporarily ‘owned’ his seat, and no other. I’m actually surprised that the attendants didn’t take more action.

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

They were starting that process when he backed down. Throwing someone off causes a lot of problems too; it’s generally better to try to resolve the problem (if it can be resolved) and allow the flight to continue as is.

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Kendra May 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm

The OP doesn’t say whether it is Pre or Post 9/11. I’m guessing it is pre 9/11 because the flight attendant didn’t have the hyper response that was typical of the few months following 9/11.

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NostalgicGal May 6, 2014 at 5:05 pm

OP said it happened in 2011, which is about a decade after 9-11-2001. Yes it’s been that long.

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imc May 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

It says at the beginning that this happened in 2011. I’d say it’s after 9/11 by a decade.

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Gully May 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I did say it was 2011.

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Kendra May 7, 2014 at 10:23 am

Yep, sorry missed that.

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Gully May 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

No problem!!

Coralreef May 6, 2014 at 8:40 am

Wow… I would have thrown him out of the plane, escorted by security. The fact that he changed his mind about letting the lady take her (paid for) seat notwithstanding. He must be a joy to travel with.

On the other hand, the lady got first class on his dime.

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm

It’s actually sweeter justice for the airline to do what they did. I want to know which airline this is and send them a bouquet for creative conflict management.

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e. May 6, 2014 at 8:44 am

Wow, unbelievable! I cannot fathom how this guy thought that his seat also entitled him to an empty one next to him. However, had I been the woman assigned to the middle seat, I would have just shown the guy my ticket. It would not have occurred to me to be concerned about personal information. I think it could have cut down on a lot of drama.

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Dominic May 6, 2014 at 8:46 am

This has less to do with etiquette than plain stupidity. Good for the lady in refusing to show her ticket to a stranger, though, and good for the flight attendants for backing her up and doing their best to diffuse a potential problem by removing her from the situation (to first class–how nice).

Nowadays, when arguing with flight staff in any way can get you booted from the plane, this guy was taking quite a risk in causing a disturbance. Trying to be the “seat police” could have gotten him kicked off. And for what? It is indeed none of his business.

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PM May 6, 2014 at 8:47 am

I have to say, I feel the most sorry for the obnoxious guy’s wife in this scenario. Anyone willing to make this big of a scene over having to STAND to allow someone to sit down probably makes big embarrassing ordeals out of going to the grocery, restaurants, dry cleaners, the gas station, anywhere where Mr. Bully feels like he can get gratification by treating someone badly. Imagine living with someone who can make something that mundane so dang miserable.

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 9:12 am

I agree. He’s probably an absolute joy to travel with. Makes you wonder why she’s still with him.

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EllenS May 6, 2014 at 9:52 am

Though it explains why she is happy to have an empty seat between them.

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm

HA!

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Green123 May 8, 2014 at 3:13 am

LIKE!

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Ash K. May 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm

BOOM! That is EXACTLY what I was thinking!

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mark May 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

I’m not sure how innocent she really was based on the story.

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Daphne May 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I agree. In my experience there often is a good cop/bad cop dynamic in marriage. The “nice” spouse is usually just as much at fault IMO because they tolerate the boorish behavior. She probably even appreciates and agrees with it, because at the end of the day, she benefits just as much as he does from the empty middle seat.

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Phoenix May 6, 2014 at 10:01 am

I disagree entirely. If you read the last bit of the story, the op stated that the wife actually tried to LIE to the staff about the drama to grt out of paying the woman’s ticket. She’s nithing more than an accomplice to this mess.

Not to mention she should have tried to squah the situaion herself. She only waited till they were threatened to be thrown off did she lift her [weak] finger.

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Rap May 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

I disagree slightly in that there’s no way of knowing if the wife lied or not. If she was totally disengaged (I’m a nervous flier, I don’t pay attention) then she might have missed that part of the arguement.

I also don’t know how the airline could enforce that particular threat.

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Eileen May 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I was assuming (I know, I know) that if it drew the attention of the flight attendant to begin with, it would have had my full attention because of how embarrassed I would have been to have a husband who would act like that.

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Marozia May 6, 2014 at 3:29 pm

No doubt the husband has probably bullied his wife into agreeing with him.
I’ll bet this guy has been paying up for things for the whole of his adult life, but still considers himself right!

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Yeah, it’s very possible that she took the stance she did knowing he will inevitably take it out on her after the flight. :(

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AIP May 6, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I don’t, something tells me they were well-met.

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The Elf May 7, 2014 at 6:48 am

Entirely possible. That would explain why she’s still with him!

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Cecilia May 6, 2014 at 8:48 am

What a jerk! If I were the flight attendant, and had the authority, I would have begun procedures to have him removed before multiple attendants had to speak with him.

I think the man and wife just wanted extra space- on an airplane in coach- who doesn’t? The man was wrong for being nosy and uncooperative and the wife for lying.

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Phoebe161 May 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

Kudos to the flight attendants. Kudos to the airline for having a policy for dealing with difficult people. Kudos to the lady for not allowing the bully to look at her ticket and for allowing the flight attendants to do their job instead pitching a hissy fit. E-hell and the full price of the seat ticket for that couple.

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Rap May 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

I get it, he was rude and demanding but… what is on an airline ticket that is so personal that when faced with someone accusing you of not being assigned that seat that you can’t show it to them for fear of identity theft?

I also have to ask, a ticket, really? I fly a minumum of twice a year and have since 2001 and I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a physical airline ticket. Boarding passes yes, but the only info on a boarding pass that I recall as private is your address.

I’m sorry but while the guy was an utter jerk, and clearly wanting an empty seat, the arguement would have been ended immediately before it started if she let him see her ticket/boarding pass. Was she right to insist on the point and refuse to let him see the ticket? I suppose. But would it have saved her some time and aggravation? Yes. And unfortuneately, yes, people do play the game of calling a toddler “a lap child” and hoping that they can play the martyred parent role and get themselves an extra seat for free. He was being a jerk, particularly to press the point once a flight attendant got involved but I do get why he asked.

This might be hitting me the wrong way since I deal with the paranoid “No one can have my info” attitude all the time. Yesterday I was screamed at by a woman who wanted to know why she got a letter on a closed account. When I asked for her ssn to look up her account because a name search landed me several hundred candidates, she refused because she wasn’t comfortable providing that to me as sh didn’t know if the letter was legit or if the phone number she called on the letter was legit. I suggested she look up the company on line and call the customer service number there if she didn’t believe she was calling company x and she then berated me for not helping her until I pointed out she wouldn’t give me her account number, she wouldn’t provide enough information to look it up, and she was insisting I verify the letter was legit without actually allowing me to check her account. Ten minutes of arguing all over paranoia.

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Brit May 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

Agreed. I’d have just shown him the ticket and shut him up. It’s got my name on it and the number, I don’t care if he sees it.

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Cat May 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

And hope he is not a sociopath who will track you down to pay you back for annoying him.

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Rap May 6, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Do you think that’s likely? That the odds are so high that any random person you meet on a plane is a sociopath that seeing your boarding pass or ticket will put your life in danger?

I mean, I’m looking at a boarding pass right now. I can pretty easily put my hand over my name and address so that if I needed to, I could show my seating assignment to a boor without revealing any pertinent info, if the sociopath beside me is really such an issue.

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Michelle C Young May 10, 2014 at 1:34 am

Some people who are paranoid have good reason, possibly quite recent, to be paranoid. In my experience, the more recent the reason, the stronger the paranoia is.

Wild Irish Rose May 6, 2014 at 9:46 am

If you had ever been a victim of identity theft, you would be far more understanding about “paranoia.” It’s an absolutely hellish nightmare trying to get that fixed. And yes, I know from experience.

The woman was completely within her rights not to show her ticket to the man in the aisle seat. Personal information or not, who is he to demand to see her ticket? He’s not the flight attendant or the pilot or anyone who is legitimately entitled to see her ticket. And once the flight attendant verified that this was her seat, he should have apologized profusely and allowed her the seat to which she was assigned. The poetic justice in all this is his having to pay for her upgrade.

If he had serious doubts about the lady’s ticket, he should have called the flight attendant over immediately rather than be an insufferable boor. Where are the air marshals in all this? He should have been removed from the plane the minute he started causing trouble. This was entirely on him, not on her.

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Rap May 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

Whats on the ticket that contributes to identity theft?

Please don’t lecture me on identity theft. I work with it every day, I’ve had it happen to me as well. There’s a point where people are paranoid. I understand why, but see my example of someone wanting help but refusing to give me enough info to help her.

And yes the woman was completely within her rights and *I didn’t say she wasn’t*. What I said was is that refusing to show him the seating assignment on the ticket increased her level of hassle. What did being completely within her rights *get her*? She said no, and increased his suspicions that she was seat scamming. I mean sure, the entire flight gets to be inconvienced by two people arguing over a seat but hey, its her right to not show him the ticket that doesn’t have any info that she hasn’t already made available to hundreds of airline employees. Yes, she had the right… but what did it get her? Aside from a lengthy argument? Oh and a free upgrade.

Air marshalls are not going to intervene in seating disputes unless someone is physically violent and there aren’t air marshalls on every flight.

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Mechanistika May 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

Depending on the airline.
I’ve had boarding passes/tickets that show not just my name, but my age, my destination, who paid for my ticket, the agency I went through, the claim number of my bags, and my destination. Sometimes, my itinerary is stapled to my boarding pass, which can have my credit card number or my father’s credit card number written on it, depending on whether he paid or I did.
Sometimes copies of my passport are stapled to my boarding pass AND my itinerary, so that security can just glance at that instead of wading through my giant book o’ passports, because I’m a dual citizen AND I have an OCI AND my Indian Voting Card is on there AND a copy of my old green-card AND a book of how many times I’ve travelled.

That’s all personal information I don’t want anyone but security to see.

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Mechanistika May 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

Augh. I apologize. Destination was placed there twice.

IndieGir May 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

It got her a first class upgrade, that’s what it got her! I’m on your side, I don’t understand why she didn’t show her boarding pass. I tend to think that while the guy was a jerk, the family was probably scamming.

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Heather A May 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Except that they weren’t scamming. Several flight attendants verified to the guy that this was, indeed, the seat she paid for; meaning that the other three people (including the child) sitting across the aisle were also in their paid-for seats. There were 3 seats on each side of the aisle. They weren’t scamming and he should’ve shut his mouth the second the flight attendant verified it. If someone rudely demanded to see my ticket I would be taken aback and not in any way inclined to bow to their request. Rude and/or aggressive immediately raises red flags for me which will make me suspicious of YOU, so why would I show you anything that might have personal information that you have no right to demand? As pointed out elsewhere, he doesn’t work for the airline, he’s not the seat police, and he’s not law enforcement. Those three things immediately disqualify you from making a demand to see my ticket.

Gully May 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm

How could the family be scamming? She never hesitated to sow her ticket to the flight attendant who confirmed the seat was hers.

DannysGirl May 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm

How was the seated family scamming a seat? The OP mentions four people who used four seats. The woman, older man, and the child had the three seats across from the rude couple and the older woman, who was accosted by the rude man in the aisle seat, had the fourth seat. I see no scam here.

Library Dragon May 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

How was the family scamming? The 10 year old child was in his purchased seat?

Cat May 6, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I was raised with a sociopath. If you think that they are rare, they make up between one and three percent of the population. I have seen my brother give an eleven year old boy a loaded 12 gage shotgun and to get in his car with the child to chase some teenagers who happened to drive past our house.
He once tried to shoot a delivery man who came to the door to hand over a package we had ordered. He told our mother that she had no right to spend Dad’s money on chemo and radiation treatments when she learned she had cancer. He said she was going to die anyway, so she might just as well go on and do it.
If you have never had to deal with one of these people, you have no idea as to what they can and will do.

gb May 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm

How many times have you flown? I’ve Only been on a plane 4 times in my life and is nearly impossible to get pay security without a paid for boarding pass let alone on the plane unpaid for… And it was verified. She had the right to refuse to show Hey info, even if it was paranoid, she had the right. That guy didn’t seem like looking at it was going to satisfy him, if several flight attendants checked it. I’m surprised no one else thought that.

Wild Irish Rose May 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Okay, first of all, I wasn’t “lecturing” you on identity theft.

I have no idea what was on that woman’s ticket. But seriously, what kind of person refuses to allow a *fellow passenger* to be seated until he sees her ticket or boarding pass? This man was not any kind of authority on that plane, and he had ZERO RIGHT to demand to see her ticket. If he had a suspicion about her ticket, he should have called a flight attendant over to see about it. It was NOT his place to question the legitimacy of her ticket! If she was “scamming,” then the flight attendant would have taken care of it. I doubt that the woman was seeking a free upgrade, but I certainly wouldn’t have sat next to that jackass if I could have helped it.

Personally, I have no idea what kind of information is on a boarding pass or ticket any more. I do know this: the people for whom I work travel frequently, and they nearly always have e-tickets. And e-tickets DO have a boatload of information on them. So, no, I would not have surrendered my ticket either. It’s none of that man’s business.

And it’s “air marshal,” with one L, not two.

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Wild Irish Rose May 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Oh, and Rap, YOU don’t know what was on that ticket, either.

Rap May 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Thanks for the gracious spelling correction :)

Does that correction mean you accept my comment that its unlikely that air marshals(spelled correctly) aren’t going to intervene in a seating dispute while the plane is on the ground?

I know from my own experience flying in the US that there’s nothing on the boarding pass that I would be uncomfortable with anyone seeing. After all, in the US you’re letting people who get just a smidge above minumum wage look at your photo id with a boat load of info on it – your name, your address, and all sorts of info.

Its the woman’s *right* to say no… but did it save her any time, hassle or hostility? Or did it make things escalate? What is the likelyhood that this man was in fact, an identity thief or even better, as another poster has suggested, a sociopath who will use her info to track her down?

And yes *neither of us* know what was on the ticket. Thanks again for the lecture on what I know and for making sure to publically correct me on spelling like a child! Thats not lecturing at all :)

Brit May 7, 2014 at 3:10 am

It’s a really, really common thing to show your boarding pass to other people!

“Oh, I’m sorry, this is my seat” (flash boarding pass)

It happens all the time. Really.

And sorry but the chances of the man being a sociopath who is going to freak out on me and track me down or commit identity theft (no idea how from a boarding pass, they contain no contact details for the person) are ridiculously small and miles less than my chances of crossing a road safely.

I would take that chance.

The Elf May 7, 2014 at 6:57 am

I fly about 2-3 times a year. Hardly a frequent flyer, but not inexperienced either. I’ve never had someone ask to see my boarding pass other than a person working for security, the airline, or the airport. If it’s a common practice, I guess I’ve just been lucky. I would be taken aback that another passenger demanded to see it when I was trying to get to my designated an empty seat. It would be different if there was a seating mix-up and the seat I bought was occupied. I’d probably show it anyway, but it would depend entirely on the person’s attitude. The way this man was acting, I’d probably get more than a little stubborn about it and call over the FA right away.

Leah May 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Well, it got her security / removal for the potential of identify theft or privacy invasion. I’m making no commentary on the likelihood, or lack thereof, of such a thing happening, but asking what it got her is basically asking, why would someone do what she did? what’s in it for them? and the answer, as clearly demonstrated by responses here, is that it could have given her security of her information.

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Leah May 7, 2014 at 12:00 am

(And also, of course, it likely got her the satisfying feeling of not kowtowing to a pushy jerk. I’d have done the same for that reason alone, frankly) .

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Mer May 7, 2014 at 1:45 am

Actually, I would probably fear that that kind of guy would take my ticket and rip it or something similar when he sees that it really is the seat he is refusing me to go. Person who out of the blue without any legitimate reason asks for your personal stuff is automatically very suspicious. Especially when the person is already behaving very illogically and weirdly.

Now if she had asked for his seat, I would understand him telling that this is his seat, is she sure she is reading the seat numbers right. If she would have persisted, at that point I do think that it is reasonable for other person to ask to see the ticket, to compare to their own or to flag a flight attendant. But when somebody is asking to go to a place next to you, which is not your place to govern, there is never a reason to ask. If she would be scamming (which she did not), that would be job for flight attendant, and he should not interfere in anyway.

We do not know, apart from OP’s word, what was in the ticket, but OP states, that it had personal information on it. Now given that OP was on that same flight and thus probably also had a ticket, it is reasonable to assume that OP knows there was personal information on it or at least strongly suspects it based on his/her own ticket. Given that post does not mention which airline or which country this happened in so we could compare it to our own experiences, I’m voting for accepting OP’s word that there was some personal information on the ticket.

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Gully May 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

Hi. I am the OP. I honestly don’t remember what was printed on the ticket or boarding pass. I can tell you it was American Airlines but I can’t remember what information they post on their tickets aside from names.

gb May 8, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Do you ask think a man as rediculous as this would be satisfied by seeing her boarding pass? I don’t. After the flight attendants checked, that was proven. I think he wants to manipulate add many people add he can on the plane. Simple. As. That.

Once again, I hate when commenters get snippy at each when posting an OPINION on an ETTIQUETE board. Seesh.

NostalgicGal May 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm

After reading GB’s post, I wonder if the fellow wasn’t trying to get HIMSELF an upgrade, a free one, and wondering if he hadn’t been successful in doing so in the past… so he was going along a ‘proven’ path that had gotten him results before?

Miss-E May 7, 2014 at 6:49 am

It got her a first class seat…but normally it would get her nothing but trouble, true.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm

“Hi. I am the OP. I honestly don’t remember what was printed on the ticket or boarding pass. I can tell you it was American Airlines but I can’t remember what information they post on their tickets aside from names”

That I can answer. I am very familiar with American Airlines.

The boarding pass has only the first and last name of the passenger, honorific (“Ms”) and seat assignment. If the passenger is a member of the Aadvantage frequent flyer program, it would have their Aadvantage number and, if elite, their elite status.

The rest is all airline info: boarding time, flight number, departure time, gate number, boarding group, cabin (Economy/First etc), etc.

I keep my boarding passes until I see the miles show up in my Aadvantage account. Thus, I have a few here on my desk and am looking at them now.

Printed tickets are rare, these days. Most use e-tickets. When you buy a ticket online, you do get a flight summary, with your entire itinerary (flight numbers, seat assignments, PNR, ETD, ETA, etc.) The flight summaries I have here do not have any personal info except my name and my Aadvantage number. My address is not on my flight summary. I will note that on the flight summary, my name is at the end of the page, far away from the notation of seat assignment for the flights.

It is possible that a flight summary generated by a travel agent would be formatted with the passenger’s name and address. The only reason for a flight summary to include the passenger’s address would be if it were sent through regular postal mail. That is very rare these days. Most ticketing is done electronically. I haven’t had a true paper ticket in my hands in over 10 years.

Cecilia May 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I’d love to hear that padded coat hanger story you mentioned last week, if you feel you to telling us.

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Wild Irish Rose May 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm

I’ve submitted that story; it just hasn’t been posted yet.

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EllenS May 6, 2014 at 9:56 am

I would be happy to show my ticket to someone who is obviously confused or at least makes a polite show of “oh, I think we might be in the wrong row” or something.

I do not believe in enabling a power play. This guy had no right to set himself up as the “gatekeeper” for the row. The minute you cave to a petty tyrant, you label yourself as a “mark” and they will keep on pushing boundaries just to show you who’s boss

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Kiki May 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I believe that he would have put up a fight even if she showed him the ticket. Then, he’d have said that it was a bogus ticket or something else. If the flight attendant verified it for him and he still wasn’t convinced, what makes a person so sure that he would have valiantly stepped aside should he have seen the ticket himself? This was a power play and pure intimidation from the get-go. He was hoping that he could get what he wanted by being aggressive. In the end, he really did get exactly what he wanted (albeit he’d have to pay for it – good luck collecting on that).

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm

“In the end, he really did get exactly what he wanted (albeit he’d have to pay for it – good luck collecting on that).”

If he’s “elite”, or has any Aadvantage miles, you can be assured they will collect the fare for the empty seat. The airline has a lot of leverage when they hold thousands of your frequent flyer miles and elite status. Trust me on that one.

Also note that recently they have been cracking down on bad actors. This I know for a fact. (“Dear Jerk, Your Advantage account has been closed, your Platinum status cancelled and your frequent flyer balanced adjusted to zero. Have a nice day.”)

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gb May 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Yup. He wanted to get his way, so he was trying to manipulate the situation any way possible.

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Hard to say if you’re not there, but she might have (probably rightly) pegged him as someone trying to pick a fight right off the bat, no matter what. Her being agreeable would have marked her as “weak” to this kind of a bully, anyway, and he would have tried to use her open nature as an opening for abuse. It that case, it would have been no-win, whichever tack she chose, and it sounds like she recognized that element.

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

“Boarding passes yes, but the only info on a boarding pass that I recall as private is your address”

I suspect it was a boarding pass not a ticket, but even just an address is personal enough when dealing with someone so obviously antagonistic. I wouldn’t have wanted to give someone the time of day, much less any information that he could use against me in any way. And I don’t believe for one second that the problem would have been resolved had she just shown the ticket/boarding pass. The FA verified the paid ticket and he STILL didn’t allow her to sit!

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essie May 6, 2014 at 10:16 am

Nope, simply showing him her ticket wouldn’t have done any good. His goal wasn’t to find out if she were entitled to sit there; his goal was to prevent her from sitting there.

I’m evil enough to hope the airline charged him the same price for the empty seat that anyone else would have had to pay for booking at the last minute.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

“I’m evil enough to hope the airline charged him the same price for the empty seat that anyone else would have had to pay for booking at the last minute.”

They did, I feel sure. Last-minute, full fare, walk-up one-way rates. Quite possibly the most expensive way to buy an airline ticket.

Either that, or they dinged him for the difference between the discount Economy fare the passenger paid and full-fare First.

This was not an inexpensive lesson, believe me.

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Gully May 6, 2014 at 10:27 am

OP here. I should have been more clear about the age of the child. He looked to be about 10 or so. Definitely not a lap child. And while it would have been nice to show him her ticket/boarding pass, if it did have her address and name (I can’t remember since this flight was a few years ago) then he had no right to see it. Actually, even without that, he had no right to see it.

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LonelyHound May 6, 2014 at 10:37 am

I have seen some home printed tickets/boarding passes and they can have personal information like addresses, phone numbers, and at least the last 4 digits of one’s credit card number. As someone who has had their credit card stolen I can tell you I would refuse to show my boarding pass to any one but a flight attendant.

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Kiara May 6, 2014 at 11:09 am

Agreed as well. The only thing on my boarding pass is my name and my frequent flier number. My address is NOWHERE on it, and in over 20 years of flying, I’ve never seen one with my address on it. The woman was being obtuse and causing drama not to show it.

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Ponytail May 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I don’t see why she should have to show her ticket to someone who had no right to see it. She got on the plane, which assumes that someone in authority has seen her ticket, pass and passport (if applicable). If that didn’t suit him, then seeing her ticket wouldn’t have made any difference, and why should she kowtow to a bully ? She ended up with a nice seat, the knowledge that she’d done nothing wrong and the satisfaction that the male passenger was going to be punished for being so obnoxious.

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Library Dragon May 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm

As someone who has a unique name (I’m the only one in my state with this name) that is also easy to remember, I wouldn’t want some random, angry, demanding person to have that information. The flight attendant addressed the issue and the drama continued because he thought he could get his way . I am imagining the flight attendant looking up his passenger information and checking to see if there is a credit card associated. It would be fairly easy to charge him for the extra seat. I’ve seen it happen in business class when a passenger thought he would bully himself up from coach. The attendant didn’t argue, just pulled up the credit card info and asked him to sign the slip. He quickly moved to his assigned seat.

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Jamie May 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I disagree. The man was being obtuse and causing drama by demanding that she show it. He and his wife most likely booked their seats the way they did thinking that they’d get away with having a row to themselves, and it backfired. While I enjoy having some extra space on a plane as much as anyone, it has never, ever once occurred to me to demand to see another person’s boarding pass before they’re “allowed” to sit next to me. He didn’t work for the airline and had no legal right to demand she show her ticket.

I wouldn’t have shown my ticket to him, either, and it wouldn’t have had anything to do with not wanting him to see my personal information. He was a bully, and giving in to bullies just encourages them to keep on acting inappropriately. I bet he never pulled that stunt again after having to pay for an extra ticket.

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Never occured to me that they’d book their seats that way on purpose to get the whole row. Good catch.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm

“Never occured to me that they’d book their seats that way on purpose to get the whole row. Good catch.”

We do it all the time. It’s SOP for frequent flyers. When flying with a companion, the computer will automatically assign adjacent seats, ie window/middle or aisle/middle.

I always go right in to the seat selection page and move us to window/aisle and hope the middle seat remains unoccupied. Single middle seats (without a companion) are the last to be assigned.

If someone does show up in that seat, we just offer a swap and it’s always accepted. Totally normal.

badkitty May 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

What’s so private? Your name. Frankly, I wouldn’t want someone like that having even that much information about me. Yes, your address is on there too, which only makes it worse! So then you’ve got your full name and address floating around the head of a complete stranger who is willing to make a federal case out of an AIRPLANE SEAT, which proves he’s unstable. You’d tell that person who you are and where you live? Seriously?

(also, name and address is more than enough to contribute to identity theft, which I’m sure you know since you say you’ve experienced it)

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 1:26 pm

“Yes, your address is on there too”

Not on any boarding pass I’ve ever seen, nor any flight summary generated online by the airline. Since you have to have your boarding pass in hand to pass the gate agent and get to the jetbridge, that’s all you are likely to have handy when searching for your seat and claiming it.

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Pipkin81 May 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

He’s not an air steward or airport security so why would she have to? She had already had her ticket checked boarding the plane.

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GG May 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The woman was absolutely in the right for not showing this boor her ticket. Its not even a matter of identity theft necessarily but it is a matter of not giving into bullies. The man sounds like he wanted to be difficult for the sake of being difficult. If he believed she was scamming the airline he should have directed his concern to the flight attendants.

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AIP May 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

And he felt he could get away with it because the last X times he tried it, they showed him the ticket “to keep the peace” . Bullies become that way because they’re enabled.

The absolute hell I would’ve shown him anything. I may or may nor not have argued the toss for 10 minutes, but there is a very strong chance that me, my chattels and wares would’ve just climbed over his blasted legs. Any whinging would’ve been met with a “I’m not very motivated to care about what you want”. Or “too bad, so sad, sod off”

(being personally insulted, accused of theft and an attempt made at preventing me from using a service for which I’ve paid will, I’m sad to say, not encourage me to bend over backwards to be polite to this boor… Sorry Admin)

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Miss-E May 7, 2014 at 6:47 am

I think that the OP probably meant boarding pass when they wrote ticket. Because even if you do have a physical ticket, your seat info is rarely on there. And you’re also right that there is barely any personal information on a boarding pass. I have a long last name and most of the time it doesn’t even fit on the pass. Even if he had wanted to see an actual ticket, he’d just know her name, no address, no credit card info or anything. So that’s probably a little bit of a paranoid stance there.

That being said, I probably wouldn’t have shown the guy simply because he was being a jerk and I’m obstinate like that. And it’s true that he has no right to see it.

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Amber May 7, 2014 at 8:29 am

The point isn’t that there could have been a theft, or that there was more arguing because the ticket wasn’t shown.

The point is that he didn’t have a right to see her ticket, she didn’t have to share ANY information about herself to him that she didn’t want to, and giving in to bullies to make a situation “easier” makes a person into a doormat and feeds the bully’s sense that he can do whatever he wants to people without consequence.

If people aren’t willing to stand up for themselves in a situation of such blatant rudeness like this, they won’t be able to stand up for themselves during even worse conflicts, I think.

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manybellsdown May 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

Even if she’d shown him the ticket he probably would have had some other excuse. He didn’t believe multiple flight attendants, after all. He’d probably accuse her of making a fake ticket in Photoshop or something.

At some point, you don’t want to win that argument, since “winning” means you now have to sit next to the guy for several hours!

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badkitty May 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Exactly! People are on about how if she’d just shown him her ticket the whole thing could have been avoided… he didn’t believe the flight attendant, so what’s making everyone think he would have suddenly become reasonable if she’d shown him her personal documentation? Or that he wouldn’t have stolen it, destroyed it, or used it to make an even bigger scene?

He was trying to get some extra space without paying for it, and felt so *entitled* to the special treatment that he wouldn’t back down even in the face of authority. That’s not someone who is going to back down if one tiny request is met – he even expanded his complaint to say that she hadn’t paid for the other ticket either!

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Mechanistika May 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I’ve had someone rip my boarding pass in half in front of my face when trying to board a plane before, because they demanded to see it. I’m sure that’s what the lady thought he would do.

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Brit May 7, 2014 at 3:12 am

None of us knows what he would have done. It’s equally likely he’d have moved over.

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The Elf May 7, 2014 at 6:59 am

I doubt he would have moved over, given that he still refused after the FA verified the ticket. That’s some serious obstinance right there!

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Mer May 7, 2014 at 7:01 am

With all due respect, no it’s not. We don’t know how he would have reacted, that’s true. It is possible that he would have moved over. But observing what we know about him speaks quite clearly that there is much lower probability of him just moving over. He started the whole deal by making unnecessary and rude demands and accusations. That is the first warning sign of his character. After that through the whole interaction he continues to behave unreasonably and rudely. There is whole row of warning signs there. He did not even believe flight attendants who verified the ticket. So this is his character and the type of person he is. Everything is possible, even rain of fish, but based on what we know I say that it is nowhere near equally likely that he’d have moved over.

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Jay May 6, 2014 at 9:24 am

PM – Maybe now we know why they had an empty seat between them.

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Melanie May 6, 2014 at 9:32 am

I think I would have been tempted to clamber over him and put my foot in his lap to get to my seat :)

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Wild Irish Rose May 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Ha ha! Or stomp on his foot.

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JeanLouiseFinch May 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

I was thinking that when he refused to get up, I would have said, “OK, I’ll just sit right here on your lap.” Since I am a big woman, he probably would have hastily gotten up (or gotten squished.) Being fat should have SOME advantages.

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Lisa May 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

I am a travel agent and have a few clients who like to take a chance and book the aisle and window seat and hope that no one sits between them, but to my knowledge have never caused a stink when someone does. It would have been better for them to book aisle seats across from one another so they both have extra let room. I have to wonder how the airline was able to charge him for the cost of her seat; I don’t know how that would be possible. As for having him removed from the aircraft that is probably their last resort as it delays the flight which has a domino effect on down line flights.

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Kaymar May 6, 2014 at 10:22 am

@Lisa, I was wondering that too.. that part of the story seems embellished to me. I don’t know of anything in the contract of carriage that would allow for the airline to charge one pax for another’s upgrade, regardless of how obnoxious he was being.

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Gully May 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

OP here. The flight attendant definitely told him they were going to charge him but I do not know if it was enforceable or the flight attendant was just so pissed that he was trying to scare the guy. It was rather funny. He brought over a clipboard that I guess had a layout of the plane. He pointed at one part and said, “This is your seat.” Then pointed next to it and said, “This was her seat. But since you seem to think you own both seats, you will now be paying for that seat.”

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AIP May 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Love it!

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Calli Arcale May 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

From the way the story is told, I suspect this was offered to the man as an alternative to being escorted off by security. They do already have his credit card information at that point, so the mechanics of billing are not a problem. He could potentially raise a legal stink, arguing that he was under duress, but the airlines is likely to have the better lawyers and can afford to wait him out.

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Agree. They probably used it as a means of conflict resolution, to make him shut up or put up, so to speak. As a private company, they absolutely have the right to do so if someone is violating the terms of agreement. I’d say that interfering with their ability to do business (i.e. deliberately attempting to prevent them from fulfilling their contract with another customer) qualifies them to refuse him service.

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Skaramouche May 6, 2014 at 10:24 am

I was wondering that too. Did they really charge him and if so, how? Pretty hard to do unless they involve the police. Anyway, hopefully just the threat of it was enough to make him think twice before ever acting this way again. Re: showing or not showing proof, I agree that it was none of his business. However, it just wouldn’t have occurred to me! I would have just shown him my boarding pass. This is not to say that it would have silenced him. I just wish I could think of these things on the spot because really, it’s none of his business.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

“Did they really charge him and if so, how? Pretty hard to do unless they involve the police.”

Very easily.

They already have his credit card info and if he’s an Aadvantage member (frequent flyer program) they can suggest that if he has any problem paying for that empty seat he could find his account zeroed out and cancelled, along with loss of any “elite” status.

A lawsuit, recently, went to the US Supreme Court concerning a frequent-complainer whose account was zeroed out and cancelled. Guess who won the case. The airline.

Northwest Inc et al v Ginsberg

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Tracy May 6, 2014 at 10:39 am

I agree – this part of the story is completely unbelievable to me. I can believe the flight attendant might have SAID he’d pay for her ticket, in jest or whatever, but I do not believe for one second that they were actually able to charge him.

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Kendra May 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I don’t know. They could easily have security waiting for the couple at the destination. It would be legal because technically the guy committed theft of services by “stealing” the seat. The threat could be “pay for the seat or we call the cops and press charges.”

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JackieJormpJomp May 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

They can refuse him service, though. Suggesting he pay for another seat is well within their rights as a means of comprimise before doing what they are ultimately entitled to do: refusing him any service at all.

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Mechanistika May 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

Again, depends on the airline.
My assumption is, the informed him that since he refused to give up the seat, he’d informally “bought” the seat and would have to KEEP it that way unless he wanted to be thrown off the plane.

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badkitty May 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm

They likely charged him just as they would for someone who “unexpectedly” takes up more than one seat… they’ve already got his card number, so it’s a simple matter to add another charge. I’d guess that, while they said they were charging him for *her* new seat, they more likely charged for the seat he was refusing to let anyone use, and upgraded her to an unsold seat for free.

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Carol Ann May 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

The OP doesn’t say how old the little boy was, but children up to the age of two (I believe) can ride on a parent’s lap. It does happen that parents will fly with a lap baby in the hope that a seat next to them will remain unsold and they can put the child into it. I won’t say it happens a lot, but it does happen, and I think we may have had posts about it on EHell.

It still doesn’t make it that man’s business, however, and doesn’t give him the right to check tickets.

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Gully May 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

The child was about 10. Sorry for leaving that out.

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Carol Ann May 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for clarifying that this wasn’t a “lap baby” issue.

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

I agree that it happens, and it is wrong, but after the FA verified that the ticket/boarding pass was valid, that should have been the end of the discussion!

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Devil's Advocate May 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I don’t agree this is wrong. When there is an empty seat between two people, typically others will use this for their purse, bag, etc. Or same people will use the underseat storage intended for that seat. Did they pay for the extra space? Nope.

While I can see the difference, I don’t see the harm. I flew with my son as a lap child until he was 2. He remained in my lap. If we had the glory of an open seat (and one time an entire row) I would use the seat. Now granted I always asked the flight attendant before doing so–making sure he/she knew it was a lap child.

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I’m not talking about taking advantage of a truly empty seat to put down your lap child, Devil’s Advocate. I’m talking about using the child as an excuse to score a more desirable seat and/or displace someone else. I should have been more clear.

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Wild Irish Rose May 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

The only times I ever flew anywhere with a baby, I was required to pay for a seat and put the child’s car seat there. No lap babies allowed. That may have changed in the last 20 years, I have no idea, but that’s how it was then.

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Amanda H. May 6, 2014 at 10:00 pm

State-side, at least, children up to the age of two can ride in a parent’s lap rather than be required to have their own ticket. There are some restrictions (only one lap child per set of seats, for instance, due to how many oxygen masks there are in a given row), but that’s generally how it works on domestic flights. Also, a child over two can still sit in a parent’s lap if their 2nd birthday fell in the middle of the trip (between the flight there and the flight back).

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Tracy May 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I think this may only be on U.S. carriers? I wish it weren’t allowed.

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Devil's Advocate May 8, 2014 at 10:58 am

@ Tracy. I’m glad it is allowed for several ones. First, traveling isn’t always because you want to travel. Traveling is pretty expensive, I’m appreciate of this option. I also appreciate the option when I’m traveling with three kids and want/need to all be in the same row. Put the kid on the lap, sit in the aisle, and now I have pretty effective control over the rest of the kiddos.

Please also remember that lap children do not get their own luggage space. Meaning I don’t get to carry-on anymore luggage then you do because I have a lapchild.

What is your grief with it?

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AIP May 8, 2014 at 7:12 pm

My personal objection is safety, based on the fact that I have glued my self to countless episodes of Air Crash Investigation (Mayday). If, God forbid, an emergency happened in flight or on take-off/landing the child would have next to no protection and/or become a missile causing injury to the child and others… The same reasoning for wearing seat belts in cars. In the Flight 232, Sioux City incident, a mother put her lap child on the floor – as per industry standard at the time – and they became separated during evacuation. The toddler did not make it. I’m not sure about posting links but you could google ‘safety of lap children in a crash’ or search for the following article on the Forbes website: “Former Flight Attendant, Crash Survivor Leads 24 Year Battle To Change Flying Rules For Young Children”

Small children have occasionally survived crashed that others have not because they are cocooned in the seat space, and their legs aren’t long enough to get trapped. A baby or toddler reliant on a parent overcoming the laws of physics is far less so.
Please don’t think I’m trying to scare or cause guilt to anyone. I genuinely love flying and these programmes have made me even more appreciative of the safety supports that in place to protect me and other passengers. Air travel is incredibly safe as lessons may get learned and applied by law to help ensure that nobody else has to suffer like that ever again. That can mean negative impacts, including cost, however. But there is always a good reason for any action.

I am totally with you on the luggage issue, it’s beyond unfair to have to purchase a seat and not get an allowance, especially as kids aren’t light travellers!

Rap541 May 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I’ll say it.

Its crowded enough with three people in small seats, and when you add a lap child, for all that parents say they aren’t taking up room, they are. So now there’s three and half people in the three person row and if you so much as twitch or shift position, you’ll wake the baby or wake the mother or both and you’re expected to smile and love it as the lapchild shrieks and poos inches away from you because the second you complain, you’re a monster who hates children.

To be perfectly fair, I’ve ridden with incredibly considerate parents with lap children. I have also ridden with people who were incredibly entitled and rude over their kids. At least if the kid is in a carseat in its own seat, there’s room for everyone to breathe. When someone has their thirty pound 23 month old toddler on their lap, I want to point out that their being cheap means everyone in the row is uncomfortable due to them.

I don’t… but I trust you don’t offer to trade to sit next to people with lapchildren to show your solidarity either.

Sarah May 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

The last time I was unfortunate enough to be in a seat that was next to a lap child (a boy about a year and a half old), the kid climbed over me to look out the window, pulled on my hair, and wiped boogers on my sleeve. The parent was very apologetic, but it’s something that wouldn’t have happened if the kid was in his own seat.

Requiring a child to be in their own seat means that there will be a buffer between the child and a stranger. Either it’s a two-seat aisle and you have the row to yourself, or you have a three-seat aisle and you can sit between your child and the other passenger.

It also seems incredibly unsafe, since the child is not, and cannot be, buckled in.

EchoGirl July 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm

@AIP, I heard about one FA who was on a flight that crashed and one lap child (out of I believe 4) didn’t survive who’s spent the rest of her life since lobbying for a change in policy that would require all children to have their own seats, because as they were preparing for the crash she realized their safety measures weren’t adequate but at that point it was too late to do anything about it.

NostalgicGal May 11, 2014 at 1:49 am

Read something recently, about two different flights, hitting turbulence. First one a 21 month old went airborne, ended up three seat rows ahead of where the mother was and pretty badly hurt. Second one, about 15 month old hit the overhead, hit a seat, hit the door on the overhead then hit the aisle floor. Flight diverted and landed in a shoebox runway to get the kid medical help. That’s probably why some airlines have tightened that restriction!

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The Elf May 12, 2014 at 7:59 am

The FAA does not prohibit lap children, but strongly discourages it due to turbulence issues.
http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/

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LonelyHound May 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

There was one time I am glad I had a flight attendant like the flight attendants in the story! I was in college and flying home for the summer when the story takes place. When I and my row mate boarded we found a very large man seated in our row. Now, this in and of itself means nothing. My row mate had the window and I had the aisle so he was in the middle. The problem was he was so large he took up half the window seat and half the aisle seat. There was no room for anyone to sit in the same row with him. He literally took up the whole aisle! My row mate and I were forced to wait at the back of the plane until boarding completed. Both of us were nervous because this was the last flight of the day and we were both stuck in a layover city (neither of us started in that city nor was it where we wanted to end up). When boarding finished the only seats available were the “seats” in our original row and one seat in the row across from our original seats where the man’s equally large buddy was sitting. The flight attendant informed the buddy that he was to move across the aisle and the man that he would have to move to the window seat. The men objected profusely. I mean, right now they were going to have plenty of space at mine and my row mate’s expense. The flight attendant informed them they could sit in the same row or pay for the four extra seats they were taking up. They chose to move, and my row mate and I got to fly home.

I realize flying is not the most enjoyable experience in the world. However, if you are miserable you can be sure some of the other people are miserable.

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Nannerdoman May 6, 2014 at 10:37 am

Wow. Who died and left this guy king? The woman was absolutely correct to refuse to show him her ticket. Had she done so, thus rewarding his bullying behavior, it would only have gotten worse.

And good on the airline for making His Nibs pay for the empty seat!

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 6, 2014 at 11:01 am

I don’t think this is an etiquette issue. The man in OP’s story appears to be running a scam- wherein he hopes that his aggression will force the woman entitled to sit between him and his spouse to find a seat elsewhere. The flight attendants did, basically, cave in to his demands. They should have had him removed from the plane for criminal conduct and had him added to a “no fly” list for their company. The “you will be charged for her seat” line of reasoning would allow him to dispute the charge with his credit card company. They may also have had to initiate civil proceedings to collect. How much more effective it would have been to have proceeded along the lines of their first course of action and have him removed. If the plane had already separated from the boarding ramp’s seal, making removal difficult- they could instead have had him met by law enforcement upon arrival. In my opinion- they should have! Instead, he likely got by with his bad conduct entirely.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm

“The “you will be charged for her seat” line of reasoning would allow him to dispute the charge with his credit card company.”

The credit card dispute would have gone nowhere. He did buy a ticket, then incurred additional charges. Just like baggage charges. Try disputing baggage charges. You’ll lose.

Unstated, but more likely, the flight attendants might have mentioned loss of accumulated frequent flyer miles or elite status. That’s a common consequence for bad behavior.

(I know for a fact that American Airlines has, recently, cracked down on a lot of bad actors, especially those violating the terms and conditions of the frequent flyer mile program by selling, trading or bartering their accumulated miles.)

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AMC May 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

The guy reeks of entitlement and control issues. Props to the airline and attendants for making him pay for the woman’s seat.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 7:14 pm

“The guy reeks of entitlement and control issues. Props to the airline and attendants for making him pay for the woman’s seat.”

We have a name for those types: DYKWIA.

Do You Know Who I Am?

They are, quite possibly, the most-loathed of fellow passengers, even lower than crying babies and seat-kicking toddlers. Babies and toddlers don’t know any better. DYKWIAs are old enough to know better.

An old, but still funny, urban legend. “Do you know who I am?” “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention? There is a gentleman at the podium who does not know who he is. Would someone please come forward and assist him?”

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Miss-E May 8, 2014 at 6:40 am

I always hope that urban legend is true. I’ve never understood why someone would ever utter that line. I worked in a grocery store for years and years and was once dealing with a (totally legitimate) customer complaint about one of my cashiers (he had been rude to her). I was completely on her side but she was getting herself more and more riled up as she spoke until she finally exploded “DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO I AM?? I COULD BUY AND SELL HIM!!” …major faux pas because she was a WASPy white woman and he was from Ghana. I was so furious that I just leveled with her and said “do you honestly think that saying that will make me MORE inclined to help you? Has anyone in the history of the world ever said that and gotten a positive response?” Shockingly, she actually did calm down after that.

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Rap May 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

Hate to disappoint you, but I hear that one all the time. I am continually amazed as well at the large number of close personal friends to my ceo who apparently routinely call him up to let him know what a terrible employee I am for not knowing their special relationship.

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NostalgicGal May 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

The woman wasn’t in the wrong; the fellow had no right to see the pass, though. I have had to show someone a boarding pass once and I put my thumb and fingers over what didn’t need to be seen other than this flight number, today, and the seat number and letter… the boor just wanted the free seat space. Even if the woman had immediately shown up and claimed the seat I bet if he was seated first he would have still raised the stink. Kudos that the attendants wouldn’t let him have his way and leave the woman stranded.

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lakey May 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

I’m glad the airline handled it the way they did. I witnessed an incident in a movie theater that still makes me angry. There is a row in the theater where there was a seat designed for wheelchairs. It had a regular seat with an empty space next to it so that the wheelchair can be in the empty space, and the person accompanying the wheelchair bound person can sit next to them in the regular seat.

A man had taken the seat next to the wheelchair space, which is fine, there was no indication that the handicapped spot was needed. However, when 2 people came in, one in a wheelchair, they asked if he would move so that they could have the handicapped space. He refused to move. A theater employee came in and told the guy he needed to move. Half the theater was empty so there were plenty of good seats left. He refused. It got a bit ugly because other people in the theater were yelling at him to move. He refused, and the theater employee didn’t make him. I suppose they may not have been able to legally make him move.

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Aunt4God May 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I’m sorry, but he did not need to move. There are always more than one set of seats/spaces in that row so more than one handicapped person can come with friends/family. The guy already there may have been in the middle set, thus the best, but that doesn’t mean he needs to move. He also may have had an invisible handicap himself that meant that climbing stairs was not possible. It would have been nice if he had explained something like that, but it’s not required or something that they can force him to explain. I myself usually sit in that set due to difficulties with stairs, but if I find the middle set taken, I will take another set or, if I’m having an okay/good day, go up one stair to the next row. I really don’t even see how the theater employee had grounds to ask him to move either.

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Miss-E May 8, 2014 at 6:44 am

But an invisible handicap wouldn’t entitle him to a seat next to the handicapped space. That’s like saying a person deserves the handicapped bathroom stall because they suffer from depression. All seats are equal in a movie theater. If the handicapped person was able to wheel over to that row then the theater had ramps and not stairs (maybe both), if he made it to the seat he could make it to another.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

It’s not known if he could have reasonably “made it to another seat”. Some people with back issues, problem knees, in treatment for cancer with chemo, cancer survivors, other issues like MS, pulmonary function compromised, CHF…. there are reasons why people cannot tackle ramps or an extra stair on a given day- even if on another they could manage it. And guess what? He doesn’t have to “prove” his condition or even engage with those who question him. It’s counterproductive and often it’s without foundation. The accommodation is there for those who need it- whoever they may be.

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Aunt4God May 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Most theaters have ramps to the main aisleway, which is where the handicapped seats are. They then have stairs that go up and down to the rest of the seats. I can usually make it just fine up the ramp to the main aisle, but if I’m having a bad day, lifting my foot to go up one step can be excruciating. Can you tell that by looking at me? No, you can’t. Just because a person has made it to one seat, does not mean they are able to make it to another.

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NostalgicGal May 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

Comment on how to charge someone… if you are in the seat you were assigned, all they have to do is look on their flight/boarding manifest and look up who held that seat reservation on that flight; and they can thus submit to the credit card company ‘additional charges’ with the reasons.
(one flight during hectic traffic backed up everything, a fellow had a coach seat and a cardboard box of ‘vitally important stuff’ that they wouldn’t let him bring on; though the flight had valet-check (strollers and that at the front in a special stuffspace). He fired up his smartphone, clicked a seat upgrade (I heard him mention miles-cashin) and showed the phone to the boarding stewardess (this was right at the door to the plane!) and she took the box and escorted him to his new seat.)

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JD May 6, 2014 at 11:39 am

I wouldn’t have shown him my boarding pass/ticket, either, and privacy has nothing to do with it. If my paperwork got me through security and the boarding gate and all that, then who is he to question its legitimacy? The man was basically calling her a crook, and I don’t blame her for refusing to cooperate with his intimidation ploy. What a jerk. Whether he had to pay for her upgrade or not, I don’t care — I’m just relieved she didn’t have to sit between this couple of jerks.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:57 pm

” If my paperwork got me through security and the boarding gate and all that, then who is he to question its legitimacy?”

She could be honestly mistaken and claiming the wrong seat. It happens. Been there, done that more than once.

I check my own boarding pass, look at the row numbers and politely apologize.

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Leah May 7, 2014 at 4:52 am

so, then he says “can you double check and make sure you’ve got the right seat?” he doesn’t demand to look himself. as I said in another comment, that’s implying she can’t do it right herself. it’s patronizing, controlling, and also, none of his business.

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manybellsdown May 7, 2014 at 9:25 am

Yes, I’ve gotten in the wrong row myself. “Whoops so sorry, I misread the number!” and I move. I do recall once when I was a child, the flight had been oversold and people with valid tickets were in the seats we also had tickets for. The only time I’ve flown first-class: the airline bumped us up because it was their error.

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MsDani313 May 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

I had a man in first class do this to me after I upgraded at the gate. He refused to let me sit in the window seat until I showed him my boarding pass. He kept repeating that there is no way I could afford the first class seat. Even after the flight attendant verified my boarding pass (because I too refused to show a random man my ticket) he continued to say that I could not afford the seat. Once the FA mentioned removing him from the plane he relented and I took my seat. THe kept talking as though we were having a conversation even though I never responded to him.

There is just something about airplanes that make people feel entitled to encroach on others’ space. He even criticized my choice of tablet when I began reading a book on it. And just prior to me putting my headphones on he criticized the brand and told me he could afford nicer headphones. When I removed my headphones to ask the FA for a water he criticized my choice and remarked that clearly I had never flown first class before because every drink was free and I chose water and didn’t specify what kind because I did not know any better. He kept on like this for 4 hours. Even though I had my headphones in I could hear the drone of his voice and during the interim between songs I caught brief audio of his superior life. All while wearing a fake Rolex and an ill fitting suit!

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EllenS May 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Actually, MsDani, it sounds to me like that guy was trying very hard – and badly – to pick you up. It’s called “negging” and is supposed to make a person feel vulnerable and keep them engaging with the “artist”.
Sounds like you gave that “artist” all the attention he deserved – zero.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 7:04 pm

“I had a man in first class do this to me after I upgraded at the gate.”

I’ve seen that kind of thing many times. They are morons, pulling a power strip on a young woman.

Just ignore them.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I am a frequent flyer.

People traveling together in Coach often book aisle and window seats, hoping the middle seat remains empty. I do that all the time when traveling with my husband. If someone shows up to sit in the middle, we just offer a trade so we can sit together and converse without having to go across a stranger. This happens all the time.

I can absolutely understand Aisle Seat Guy wanting to see the boarding pass of the person moving into the middle seat. He wanted to make sure Middle Seat Lady was in the correct row, on the correct side of the aisle. No problem there. She need only show her boarding pass with her seat assignment and all would have been well. Her flat-out refusal to show Aisle Seat Guy her boarding pass only made him more convinced she was not claiming her proper seat. I can’t say I blame him for staying seated until convinced Middle Seat Lady was assigned to that seat.

There’s another, legitimate, reason to confirm Middle Seat Lady’s boarding pass with her seat assignment. These days, Coach seats are sold with variable prices. More desirable seats (exit row, front of aircraft, more legroom, aisle, etc) are sold at a premium price and less desirable seats (back of aircraft, less legroom, middle, etc) are cheaper. The names of these seats vary with the airline: Main Cabin Extra, Economy Plus, etc.

It is very common for passengers assigned to less desirable cheaper seats to “poach” more desirable seats by simply moving into them. Aisle Seat Guy might have paid extra for his extra space, extra legroom, front of aircraft seat and resented a “poacher” moving in between him and his wife without having paid the extra cost for the seat. He might have watched the seating chart for his flight and moved himself and wife into aisle/window seats with the coveted empty middle seat.

I can absolutely understand him wanting to make sure Middle Seat Lady was legitimately assigned to that seat and not a poacher.

Boarding passes have very little personal info on them. I have a stack here on my desk, from my two recent trips. My first and last name are there plus honorific (Ms). My frequent flyer number is there. My “Aadvantage Gold” status is there. The rest is flight number, seat assignment, date, origin, destination, airline, etc.

I wouldn’t have a single problem showing another passenger my boarding pass in order to establish my right to my assigned seat.

So far, so good.

However, Middle Seat Lady did have a problem with showing her boarding pass to a random stranger and quite properly showed her boarding pass to a flight attendant. Once the flight attendant confirmed she was at the correct seat, Aisle Seat Guy should have let her pass.

When he did not let her pass, at the flight attendant’s request, he was in violation of FAA regulations in that a passenger must comply with the request of flight crew. There are various remedies available to the airline should a passenger fail to comply with the request of the flight crew, including removal from the airplane and arrest. Moving Middle Seat Lady to another seat, even First Class, then charging Aisle Seat Guy the full fare walk-up cost of the empty seat was probably the “least bad” for him. It could have been much worse.

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Ripple May 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

By your definition, a middle seat is an undesirable seat, less leg room, etc. So why would the woman want to “poach” an undesirable seat? She didn’t ask the man to move over so she could get the aisle seat, she asked him to get up so she could get into the middle seat. Once the flight attendant confirmed that she did indeed have the right to the seat, the man should have stood up and let her in instead of involving all the other flight attendants, be threatened with security, etc.

As for information showing on the ticket, unless your name is Jane Smith, just your name could be enough to lead to identity theft. My name is very unusual and would almost certainly only be linked to me. I wouldn’t want someone not authorized to see it either.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm

“By your definition, a middle seat is an undesirable seat, less leg room, etc”

Middle seats are not necessarily undesireable. Airlines sell premium economy seats towards the front of the plane, including middle seats. As you get towards the rear of the plane, you’ll see some middle seats do not have a premium, while their corresponding aisle and windows seats do. Farther back, none of the seats have a premium. It’s all part of the airline voodoo called Yield Management.

Go to an airline website, such as aa.com, delta.com or united.com and look at seatmaps. You’ll see a pattern of the premium extra-cost seats, seats reserved for “elites”, etc. AA calls them “Main Cabin Extra”. United calls them Economy Plus. Delta calls them Economy Comfort.

Check it out yourself. https://www.aa.com/seatmap/viewSeatsSubmit.do
Put in flight 2424, LAX to DFW, and some date months from now. You’ll see a seatmap, complete with MCE and elite reserved seats. The number of stars on the seat indicate the premium price.

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Tracy May 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm

But even if it’s a premium middle seat, it’s still generally considered less desirable than the two seats next to it.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

“But even if it’s a premium middle seat, it’s still generally considered less desirable than the two seats next to it.”

True.

That’s why the extra cost for a Main Cabin Extra middle seat is usually a bit less than the aisle and windows seats next to it.

People like to sit near the front, even if in a middle seat, especially when they have a tight connection.

Kirst May 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm

It’s none of his business if the woman claiming the middle seat is in the right seat or not. If she’s in the wrong seat, the person who has that seat number will come along, and she will have to move to the correct seat. He’s not the seat police. Never in my life has another passenger refused to let me take my seat on a plane unless they can check my ticket, and I’ve never heard of it happening to anyone else either. He was bang out of order, and I’m sorry they didn’t throw him off the flight. He has no right to assume or imply she’s in the wrong seat, he has no right to question her or be the arbiter of who gets to sit where, and I really can’t understand why you think he does.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

” If she’s in the wrong seat, the person who has that seat number will come along, and she will have to move to the correct seat. ”

Maybe and maybe not. That seat might still be unassigned, in which case no one will come along. Aisle Seat Guy will end up sitting next to Middle Seat Lady, who was actually assigned to another seat. Aisle Seat Guy would lose the additional space and comfort he otherwise would have had with the empty middle seat.

If you are really worried about the person seeing your name on your boarding pass, just put your thumb over your name and show the part with the seat number. That should be enough.

It is indeed common for someone to sit in the wrong seat, by mistake. Usually they get in the wrong row. I’ve done it, myself. The usual procedure is for the newly arriving passenger to check his/her own boarding pass just to make sure of their own seat assignment, then politely say “I think you are in my seat.” At that point, the seated passenger looks at their own boarding pass and says “Dang, I missed it by a row.”, then moves. This happens ALL THE TIME. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

If for some reason both passengers happen to have the same seat assignment, due to some computer glitch, it’s up to the flight attendants to sort it out. Most of the time they follow the “possession is 90% of the law” policy and reseat the later arriving passenger. (A good reason to board as soon as you can, not dawdle around and be the last person aboard.)

I do not believe Aisle Seat Guy was out of line asking to see Middle Seat Lady’s boarding pass, or at least the part with her seat assignment. The fact that Aisle Seat Guy continued to be a jerk even after the seat assignment was confirmed by the flight attendant was a real lucky break for Middle Seat Lady. She ended up in First Class.

An alternate, and more probably scenario, would be for Aisle Seat Guy to follow the crew member’s instruction, get up, and let Middle Seat Lady take her seat. THEN, good luck should Middle Seat Lady need to go to the lav later. Aisle Seat Guy could very well cover his ears with headphone, close his eyes and ignore any requests from Middle Seat Lady to get up so she can go to the loo. If he’s even more of a jerk, he could tell her to call a flight attendant and only when instructed by a crew member will he get up out of his seat. In Coach, flight attendants don’t usually answer call bells promptly, so it might be a while before before she gets any relief. If ever. Aisle Seat Guy could continue to be a jerk by remaining seated as the plane empties of passengers, making Middle Seat Lady the last one to deplane. Bummer if she has a tight connection.

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Mer May 7, 2014 at 7:53 am

The extra space and comfort was not his in anyway, he had no right to the extra space anymore than the assumed poacher. Where it really goes is that by trying to stop somebody else being poacher he actually is poacher himself trying to take advantage of extra space and comfort he did not pay for (that is, the extra empty seat in this hypothetical situation).

The important thing in this post is that the man did not try to look after his own seat but seat that was not his. Seat mix-ups are common, of course, and as you said, they often resolve themselves after polite “are you sure this is your seat, I thought it was mine.” and then both check their tickets. But it is not really relevant here, one has no reason to start seat mix-up discussion when someone is trying to sit on a empty seat.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

“he actually is poacher himself trying to take advantage of extra space and comfort he did not pay for (that is, the extra empty seat in this hypothetical situation).”

Actually, it occurred to me, later, that there might have been a legitimate entitlement. I failed to mention it before in other comments.

American Airlines (and I assume others) used to have an “elite” benefit in that they would try to not assign middle seats next to “elites” in Coach, until the plane was full. In other words, if Aisle Seat Guy was an “elite” frequent flyer, and if this airline was one that still extends the empty middle seat benefit to “elites”, he very well could have been legitimately entitled to an empty middle seat until all seats were sold. Aisle Seat Guy might also have been on an airline, such as AA, that has discontinued the empty middle seat benefit to “elites” but Aisle Seat Guy might be unaware of the loss of the benefit.

I’m not excusing his behavior. It was atrocious. On a frequent flyer forum, he would be raked over the coals. (“You, sir, are a jerk.”)

I’m just saying he might have a partial leg to stand on. If he truly has this “elite” benefit and if he saw other empty middle seats, then I can understand his questioning the seat assignment.

As I mentioned in another comment, loss of “elite” status and/or getting booted out of the airline frequent flyer program is a powerful threat the airline holds over those in the program. They do have some leverage to make good on the threat to charge him for the empty seat, or Middle Seat Lady’s first class upgrade.

(For those unfamiliar with airline ffm programs, “elites” are people who have traveled X number of miles or spent Y number of money on tickets or affiliates such as credit cards. There are levels of elite-ness: Aadvantage Gold, Platinum, Executive Platinum and Concierge Key on AA. I am Lifetime Gold due to my million plus lifetime miles. Elites are the airlines’ best customers, and they extend lots of perks to us that others do not get.)

Leah May 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

But his demanding to see it implies that he either thinks she is a liar or too stupid to read her own ticket. If a seat must be verified, at least the flight attendants have some authority so it is less insulting for them to do it. A fellow passenger at the same level as myself doing this would make me feel insulted to the extreme. Not his place to act like he has authority over her, much less regarding her own seat.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm

“But his demanding to see it implies that he either thinks she is a liar or too stupid to read her own ticket.”

It happens that people get mixed up or don’t read the row numbers properly. It’s not a matter of lying or stupidity. I’ve done it, myself, and I don’t consider myself to be either a liar or stupid. Sometimes the seat numbers on the overhead bins are not exactly above the seat row.

It is unusual to ask to see the boarding pass of a seatmate, but if the guy got on the plane truly believing he had an empty middle seat between him and his wife, a passenger claiming that seat might be suspicious. There are those who compulsively check seat maps on their smartphones right up until the point the aircraft door is closed. (That would be me.)

Middle Seat Lady was out of line up until the flight attendant confirmed her seat assignment. When Aisle Seat Guy refused to follow the crew member’s request, the worm turned and he was in violation.

Personally, I would never have taken it that far. I would have showed Aisle Seat Guy my boarding pass without any hesitation.

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Leah May 7, 2014 at 5:13 am

I agree it’s unusual for someone to ask- none of the scenarios you’ve outlined regarding how people handle incorrect seating has mentioned, as an option, one passenger demanding to see another’s paperwork. and I guess my point is that by making that unusual move, he crossed into rudeness. it’s not his job to look at passes for possibly-misreading customers. it’s not his right, either, because even if that middle seat would have otherwise been empty, it wasn’t his seat to enjoy. and based on the responses here I think a lot of people would feel as I did if such a demand was made to me- insulted and encroached upon. and that makes it rude.

I think we are in agreement more or less, but perhaps we differ in being offended by his attitude (I would be, you sound like it wouldn’t bother you). I do think, though, that the woman refusing to show her pass to him was a legitimate move not to be dismissed as having gained her nothing and caused more trouble. I feel his behavior was unacceptable and so I would have also refused to participate in it. even if it did escalate the argument.
maybe it’s a matter of priorities. to me, and it sounds like to her, the fuss caused was well worth standing up to the rude invasive behavior.

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Mer May 7, 2014 at 8:00 am

But it still really does not matter if the seat should be empty or not. If you did not buy it, you have no right to it anymore than any other passenger on the plane. If you feel that you have right to try to keep it free, everybody else has right to try to get to it. It’s no-man’s space. It is only up to the airline if they want to prevent seat switching. And all he knows, flight attendants might have ordered woman to move to the empty seat, due to anything. And none is his business, not if the seat next to him is empty or not, no matter what the reservations said, not why there is somebody sitting there or any other seat on the plane, not if the other person is sitting on her own seat or not, as long as we are not talking about seat he has paid money for.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

I basically agree with you. I agree fully Aisle Seat Guy was a big jerk.

After writing comments yesterday, I remembered that American Airlines used to extend a benefit to “elites” in that they would attempt to keep middle seats empty adjacent to “elites”. As the seats got assigned, middle seats next to “elites” would be the last filled.

It’s possible that Aisle Seat Guy was “elite” and either knew of that benefit and/or might not know if the benefit has been discontinued. The airlines do not exactly tout the loss of benefits to their best customers. Loss of benefits is usually announced in small print. There is a slim chance he truly was entitled to an empty middle seat until all others were assigned, or legitimately believed he was so entitled.

No matter, he was a jerk.

Had I been Aisle Seat Guy/Gal and had I questioned the assignment of the middle seat believing I had the “elite” empty middle benefit? I would have gotten up, found a flight attendant and quietly asked for confirmation of that seat assignment.

Margaret May 7, 2014 at 10:33 am

In this case, the woman likely had the correct row since she booked with her family, who was seated across the aisle.

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Rap May 7, 2014 at 10:43 am

(raises hand) I can’t tell you how many times I have misread the seating and gotten asked to check my boarding pass.

And fear of identity theft and random sociopaths aside, I would have shown my boarding pass as well because with a normal person, it would shut them up and with a belligerent person, I get to be the person telling the flight attendent “yes I showed him my boarding pass and he still won’t let me sit”.

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Mer May 7, 2014 at 7:24 am

That really is no reason to ask the boarding pass, because none of the above is the man’s business. The lady was not trying to claim his seat. It is also not his business if somebody moves for better places without paying the difference, unless of course they are trying to steal his place while doing so. He paid for his own seats and not for those around him. It is not the passenger’s job or right to govern any of these things. If they have concerns, they should contact flight attendants who may or may not want to deal with the situation. However, even then it is questionable. After all, somebody claiming empty seat does not affect the other person in any different way that flight with person having booked that seat beforehand. It’s outside the passenger’s hands and not his business.

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HelenB May 7, 2014 at 8:21 am

But, it was still not his job to be the seat police. Just because someone is afraid that another passenger may try to poach a premium seat, doesn’t give that person the right to demand to see proof before “letting” a person sit in a seat. Unless someone has also purchased the middle seat and know it to be theirs, they have no rights to it, and are in no position to be the guardian on their aisle.

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kingsrings May 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

It’s absolutely none of the man’s business, nor your business, what kind of seat another passenger has, what they paid for, etc. They are under no obligation to show anybody but the airline employees that info, no matter how impersonal it may be.

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Cat May 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

No, I would not give my home address to someone who demands it. It is not my job to kowtow to someone who decides to be the seat police on a plane. If he questions my right to be there, he can call the flight attendant. When she tells him to move, he must move.
He should have been removed from the plane and not allowed to fly on that airline again. Once he proves that everyone has to give in to his demands, there are no limits to what he will insist upon next.
I have no patience with bullies of any age.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

“He should have been removed from the plane and not allowed to fly on that airline again.”

Every airline has policies as to what behavior constitutes what consequence. Some are banned for life, others are taken off a given flight, others are issued a warning. I personally witnessed a passenger get arrested upon arrival at LAX.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the pilot. I am asking you to all remain seated when we pull up to the gate. The police are here to arrest a passenger who is now in the back row of Coach. Once that passenger has been removed, I will turn off the seat belt sign and you all can deplane as usual.” What was his offense? He was really really drunk and belligerent. The flight was 10 hours, from London, so by the time we got to Los Angeles, he had plenty of time to sober up, duct-taped to the back row in Coach and handcuffed.

American Airlines frequent flyers often suspect there are “buzzards” in the passenger’s record. Get enough buzzards, and the consequences of your actions escalate. Good passengers get “eagles”, by contrast.

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AS May 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Wow! That is incredible. Kudos to the flight who seemed to have done the right thing. My sympathies for the wife of that man!

This reminds of an incidence that happened in a flight I was traveling a while ago. I was not directly involved, but heard the conversation between a woman and the flight attendants. It was a trans-Atlantic flight, in December, with 3-4-3 arrangement of seats per row. This woman, who was sitting 2 rows behind me was lying down on 3 seats on one side of the aircraft (I had seen her lying down). Then, the passengers who were assigned te seats got in, and she was grumpy about letting them sit. She called the flight attendants and said that she had requested a seat with an empty seat next to her, as she was not feeling too well and wanted to lie down. The flight attendants tried to explain to her, over and over, that the flight was fully booked, and there was not a single empty seat. She kept arguing, and at some point, I guess she just gave up. I later heard her complain to whoever would listen, but that was about it.
(By the way, she didn’t seem contagious. Thank Goodness!).

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Leigh May 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I am amazed at the number of people who think they have the right to see a boarding pass that does not belong to them. The gentleman was clearly being an arrogant jerk, and to suggest that the woman was out of line for not bowing to his demands is way off. She DID show her boarding pass to the flight attendant, and that should be ENOUGH for any other paying person on that plane. I don’t care if you fly every single day, that does not give you the right to be the airplane seat/boarding pass monitor, and if someone thinks that frequent flying gives you that right, then perhaps you should re-evaluate your own sense of entitlement. He had no more right to ask to see her boarding pass than she did to demand that he show his to HER before she sat down. The situation was handled well by the flight crew, and I commend them for their grace and professionalism.

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Mary Bernard May 6, 2014 at 8:12 pm

“I am amazed at the number of people who think they have the right to see a boarding pass that does not belong to them.”

I once asked to see someone else’s boarding pass. I had booked an aisle seat. When I got to my row, I saw that a guy was sitting in my aisle seat. The woman in the middle seat and the man in the window seat appeared to be a couple. I said to the guy in my seat, “I believe you’re in my seat. May I please see your boarding pass?” I guess you were amazed that I had the absolute gall to ask to see his boarding pass.

He said, “Oh, is this your seat? I had the window seat. This woman [meaning the woman in the middle seat] had this seat, and that man [meaning the man in the window seat] had the middle seat across the aisle. He asked me if I would trade seats with him so that he could sit with his wife.”

“Oh, I see,” I said, as I stood there and waited for him to get up and give me my seat. Eventually he said, “Oh, you want your seat,” and I said that I did, and he got up and moved to the middle seat across the aisle. IMHO he had some nerve agreeing to trade seats with the man in the middle seat across the aisle, but sitting in my aisle seat instead of the crummy seat he traded for. So, was I in the wrong for wanting to see his boarding pass?

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Charliesmum May 7, 2014 at 6:57 am

To be fair, you could have just shown him your pass with the seat number on it. That’s what I probably would have done.

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badkitty May 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

Yes. You could have flashed yours, since you were apparently so keen to swap names and the like. Or you could have just done what I usually do, which is say “excuse me,” then visibly check your own boarding pass, glance up at the number above the row, then say “I’m in this seat” or “may I have my seat, please?” repeating the seat number if necessary.

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Mary Bernard May 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

He never told me his name, and I never told him my name, and we never saw each other’s boarding passes, so I have no idea why you claim that I was so keen to swap names. On another flight, when I got to my seat, it was taken, and after that person showed me her boarding pass, I realized that both of us had been assigned to the same seat number. So it wasn’t her fault that she was sitting in my seat. I just wanted to be sure that that hadn’t happened again. Do you still think that I was so keen to swap names with someone whose name I never found out and never asked for?

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badkitty May 8, 2014 at 10:54 am

You asked to see his boarding pass. His boarding pass has his name on it. He didn’t show it to you, which is perfectly correct, but you did ask for it, which is not.

MsDani313 May 7, 2014 at 10:10 am

The difference is that he was in your seat. In the original story the seat did not belong to the entitled man. You paid for that seat and therefore had the right to question the person sitting in it. The man in the story did not pay for the middle seat so he had no right to question the woman requesting to sit in it.

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Mary Bernard May 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Yes, I know that my story was different, because the man was in my seat, but Leigh said, “I am amazed at the number of people who think they have the right to see a boarding pass that does not belong to them.” I just wanted to show that there can be a valid reason for seeing someone else’s boarding pass. I was once on a flight where someone else was in my seat, and after I saw her boarding pass, I realized that both of us had been assigned the same seat number. So the first person who got to the seat got to sit down.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

What you did was fine. No problem.

People swap seats before the airplane door closes and while late-arriving passengers are still coming on board. They do so at their own risk.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm

All the bells and whistles about being a frequent traveler or being in a “gold club” where middle seats are preserved for the privileged really don’t change the basic chemistry of this social transaction. To wit- man attempts to control a seat he did not pay for, exhibits fairly extreme antisocial behavior in the face of having been proven wrong by an airline employee, and may (or may not) have suffered fiscal and legal consequences. Everything else is just window dressing. Interesting- but purely speculative.

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Freq Flyer May 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I agree the guy was totally a jerk.

I hope they charged him a bundle for the last -minute full fare ticket. For those who question how they were able to charge him, remember that flight attendants have portable credit card machines. Usually they are used for in-flight purchases, such as food or alcoholic beverages in Coach. They could also be used for a new ticket or upgrade. The flight attendant could have presented the guy with a choice. Either pay $xxx now or get off the plane.

I am pointing out there is some justification in an American Airlines “elite” thinking that the middle seat should be vacant and anyone claiming that seat might be mistaken. Had I been in that situation in an aisle seat, I would have quietly contacted a flight attendant and asked him/her to check the flight manifest, especially if my smartphone seatmap showed an unassigned seat and/or other middle seats were unoccupied. Starting a fight with the passenger is totally out of line.

Besides, the “empty middle seat if possible” benefit no longer exists on American Airlines. The OP has confirmed it was AA.

(Parenthetically: A friend of mine busted up her knee the morning before flying home. She limped to the airport, limped to the gate then limped on the plane. Once seated, she realized that in no way could she sit in that cramped seat for 5 hours with a bum knee. She asked a flight attendant about upgrading to First. The FA brought out a credit card machine, the fare difference was paid, and my friend was moved up front to a vacant seat. It’s routine.)

Kimstu May 8, 2014 at 6:57 am

From your story, it sounds as though the boarding-pass information was unnecessary. You could have just said “Excuse me, I believe you’re in my seat”, without asking to see his boarding pass, and the situation would have played out the same way.

I agree with previous posters that while it’s fine for passengers to show their boarding passes to other passengers if they want to, it is rather presumptuous and rude to request another passenger to do so. In general, any request along the lines of “Show me your papers” should be made only by an official with enforcement responsibilities.

On an airplane, only flight attendants and other airline personnel should ask to see other people’s boarding passes. If there’s a dispute between passengers about who belongs in a particular seat, that’s the time to get the flight attendant involved.

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Karen May 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

I recently travel abroad with my boyfriend (but came back with my fiancee!), and he had the window while I had the aisle. We hoped the middle seat would be unoccupied, but on one leg there was a person in the middle when we got there. We asked if she would like the aisle, as we were traveling together, and she was so appreciative! She kept telling me how “thrilled” she was not to have to climb over anyone. It was only a six hour flight and I promptly fell asleep, so I’m not sure how many times she got up!

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The Elf May 6, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Congratulations!

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 7:02 pm

“I recently travel abroad with my boyfriend (but came back with my fiancee!), and he had the window while I had the aisle. We hoped the middle seat would be unoccupied, but on one leg there was a person in the middle when we got there. We asked if she would like the aisle, as we were traveling together, and she was so appreciative! ”

This is far more common. My husband and I always offer a swap if we are aisle/window and the middle guy comes along. They are always very appreciative.

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Vicki May 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I wouldn’t want to show my full name to a random stranger who started by acting as though he had a right to keep me from the seat I had paid for. Some of us have uncommon names: full name plus having seen my face might well be enough to let said rude bully track me down online. And if I already know someone resents my presence, I don’t want them calling me by name, whether or not I know theirs.

I’ve sometimes asked for aisle and window for myself and my companion. We do that figuring that if someone else has the middle seat, we can offer them a swap, and they’re usually happy to accept. (I’m sure there are people who prefer middle seats, but not many, and such a person could of course say no: I’m making an offer, not a demand.)

FreqFlyer: I wonder what would have happened if the OP had told the self-appointed gatekeeper to show her *his* boarding pass/seat assignment first. What you say about him suspecting that she had moved to a better seat than she paid for would be equally likely in reverse.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm

“FreqFlyer: I wonder what would have happened if the OP had told the self-appointed gatekeeper to show her *his* boarding pass/seat assignment first. What you say about him suspecting that she had moved to a better seat than she paid for would be equally likely in reverse.”

She very well could have done that, and I would not have blamed her a bit.

I have over a million miles in the AA frequent flyer mile program, most of which were in Coach. I am pretty much used to what is considered normal polite behavior on board a plane. Neither Middle Seat Lady nor Aisle Seat Guy were blameless here.

He was a jerk, she was more of a jerk, then he was a bigger jerk, then the flight attendant separated them. I have HUGE admiration for flight attendants, and I always make a point of thanking them for doing a superb job while I’m in flight.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Really, WHO acts like this guy? Soup to nuts he’s a problem. As for the revenge idea you offer, a simple “excuse me” and rising to one’s feet is the universal signal for “I need to pass”. Anyone who tried to interfere would find the reality of the attempt far more difficult to sustain than your hypothetical scenario. The simple desire not to risk injury to one’s feet and person is enough to move anyone possessed of even a wisp of sanity.

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The Elf May 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

“Wisp of sanity”. That would be the problem.

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kingsrings May 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Regardless of how secure showing this man her ticket would have been, the point is is that he has absolutely no right to that info! Only the airline employees do. Why should she do something that she doesn’t need to?

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm

“Why should she do something that she doesn’t need to?”

Because Aisle Seat Guy has the power to make her flight miserable if she sits next to him. Want to go to the loo? Aisle Seat Guy could refuse to get up and let her out. He could hum tunelessly the entire flight. Blow giant bubbles with gum. “Accidentally” spill his Bloody Mary in her lap during turbulence.

There’s no upside to ticking up your seatmate. Best to be super-polite.

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Rowan May 7, 2014 at 3:54 am

He probably would’ve done that anyway cos she had the gall to have paid for the seat where he wanted to put his newspaper / do the “my gonads are the size of grapefruit” knee sprawl.

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Rap May 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

I think people are getting bogged down in the “she has every right to say no” arguement and ignoring the unpleasant reality that standing on principle is nice in theory but rarely has the pay off this woman recieved. Sure she doesn’t need to show him her boarding pass – but the only reason this situation resolves well for the woman is because the guy was overly belligerent. Identity theft and possible sociopath issues aside – and looking at an old boarding pass, its really not impossible to cover your name and just show the seating assignment – he asked to see it, she refused, and had the guy not been extremely aggressive – and had there been no first class available – she would have been stuck sitting next to the guy who could indeed make the entire flight miserable.

I have to explain this to people daily – yes, you have the right to refuse or stand on principle over process a, b or c, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be inconvienced. There are consequences. That doesn’t mean this guy wasn’t rude, but really, the surprise here is that it did work out well for the woman.

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The Elf May 7, 2014 at 10:43 am

Yes, you make a good point when dealing with someone making a reasonable and polite but unnecessary request. You’re stuck in that plane with them, you might as well try to get along.

But I’d bet good money that the guy didn’t politely ask to see her boarding pass, even if you think it is reasonable that he ask. He probably made a big stink of it in the asking, or copped an attitude, based on the craziness that followed. I mean – he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the seat assignment when *multiple flight attendants* verified it. Yeah, that doesn’t strike me as a reasonable man. When dealing with a person like that, you can assume that there is nothing you are going to do to please them. Your very existence is the “problem”. You can hope to appease him (unlikely) by showing the pass, or you can make a stand and refuse, calling in the authorities as soon as you can.

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Rap May 7, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Well, to be fair, we will never know what he might have done. But… I work with people in a customer service setting, and a lot of times, guys copping an attitude (and I agree btw that he probably wasn’t pleasant) usually just need a light tap smack to calm down. My read on the situation? He thought, wrongly I might add, that he was about to lose a nice spacious empty seat to someone he thought was scamming. She shows him the boarding pass – he has two ways to respond – he lets her sit, or he accuses her of falsifying a boarding pass. Even with guys copping attitudes, most aren’t going to make a huge scene when they’re completely in the wrong. Showing him the boarding pass shuts him down, how does he argue it?

I agree with Frequent Flyer in that she showed him some attitude back – she certainly had the *right* but it didn’t lead to her being any less inconvienced, because now this guy has his dander up over how he’s being refused to see the proof despite his “rights” and now he’s angry and irrational over it. I completely agree that there’s always going to be *that* guy who isn’t going to be pleased…. but I don’t like to work from the assumption that every guy is *that* guy and things do go a lot smoother when I’m more flexible. Like I said, standing on principle about her rights worked out well for this woman this time…. but the situation might not have blown up if she showed him her boarding pass and there was just as much of a chance that she’d be getting his elbow in her side the entire trip.

The Elf May 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm

“Showing him the boarding pass shuts him down, how does he argue it?”

Great question, but argue it he did after the flight attendant verified the seat assignment! Someone willing to do that right up to the point of nearly getting thrown off the plane (!) would not be satisfied by showing him the boarding pass right off. He’s *that* guy, I suspect.

Rap May 7, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I agree that this guy was likely *that* guy but MOST people aren’t that guy. I mean, honestly, I really don’t understand why this guy wasn’t deplaned, he’s clearly not willing to follow instructions from the flight attendants and that’s usually the *big* criteria.

Kimstu May 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

I think the best response in a situation like that if you don’t want to show your boarding pass to another passenger (and as I noted above, it IS rather presumptuous for one passenger to papers-check another) is “parallel compliance”. That is, you don’t do exactly what you’re being asked to do, but you cheerfully and voluntarily do something else that will produce the same result.

So instead of showing your boarding pass to the presumptuous fellow-passenger, you say politely, “Oh certainly, I’ll get a flight attendant to confirm for you that this is my seat, or to straighten things out if there’s been a double-booking”.

Not with the tone of “You mean bully, I’m gonna tell teacher on you!”, but rather “I’m helpfully resolving this potential conflict by asking for the assistance of an official who will know the facts”.

z_squared82 May 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

What gets my goat is something completely different. He wanted to make sure she had the right seat, okay. She didn’t want to show him, fine. The flight attendant confirmed it was the correct seat, brilliant. He starts a downward spiral of ridiculousness, definitely.

But what does the woman’s payment or non-payment of the boy’s ticket have to do with it? Maybe his grandmother paid for the ticket. Maybe it was paid with miles. It’s irrelevant. The woman wanted to sit in the seat she was assigned. The boy across the aisle was immaterial to the argument so I don’t understand why the argumentative man brought it up.

Color me confused.

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Gully May 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm

It seemed like he believed the woman had bought a ticket for herself but then got the child on the flight for free and gave him her seat. If the kid was a toddler this would make sense because you don’t have to pay for a toddler because they are expected to sit on your lap. The kid was 10 though so I don’t get how that would work.

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NostalgicGal May 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Now you know some of the whys that though I can’t afford first class, I DO: book as early as possible for the date I want to fly-usually 2-3 months in advance minimum (embrace the 3-4 hour layover, just in case of snags in connecting; the under an hour are tempting and those have bitten me every time), pay for seat assignment if that’s what it takes so I have the needed window seat for my claustro issues and have that confirmed (CONFIRMED!!!!!) well before I hit the airport, on any and all legs of the trip, ship my luggage ahead of me (with time so it’s there the day before I hit the airport) and I am a ‘walkon’ which means I am carrying at most a laptop, my phone, my meds, and my travel papers.

With a window seat and in ‘walkon’ status (no checked baggage and almost zero carryon, the bag will go under the seat guaranteed) I usually board right after first class as I can step right on and sit down AND BE OUT OF THE WAY as the rest get on and board and settle, as I am at the furthest from aisle and don’t need overhead either getting on or off. Only other one is that I will get that armrest down, and glue an elbow to it and keep it there.

Empty middle seat? Gods I could wish. When I fly with spouse we book window and middle; and if it’s bigger than a 727 swap seats after the seatbelt sign goes off then swap back when the light comes on again for landing. He’s much taller and gets a bit more room at the window UNLESS it’s a smaller jet in which case the curve of the hull and the overhead bit doesn’t give him as much room.

I do agree further with some of the other posters, that if the fellow was so insistent on seeing HER ticket, if I was the FA I would have checked HIS ticket as well. That did smell a bit. Though I think it was mentioned the seating manifest was looked at and it seems he was in his correct seat; and the woman was just trying to claim hers. He could open a dispute with his CC company over the charge, but the airline would have given the reason why the charge and it’d be pretty hard to dispute.

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Freq Flyer May 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm

“Now you know some of the whys that though I can’t afford first class, I DO: book as early as possible for the date I want to fly-usually 2-3 months in advance minimum (embrace the 3-4 hour layover, just in case of snags in connecting; the under an hour are tempting and those have bitten me every time), pay for seat assignment if that’s what it takes so I have the needed window seat for my claustro issues and have that confirmed (CONFIRMED!!!!!) well before I hit the airport, on any and all legs of the trip, ship my luggage ahead of me (with time so it’s there the day before I hit the airport) and I am a ‘walkon’ which means I am carrying at most a laptop, my phone, my meds, and my travel papers.”

Excellent strategy. I commend you.

If you are so inclined, and if you tend to fly the same airline on most trips, you might consider getting the airline affiliated credit card. Every major airline has one. Typically, you get one free checked bag, priority boarding ahead of the riff-raff and other perks.

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Kimberly May 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I’ve shown my boarding pass to people in discussions/arguments about seats. But I held it so the seat assignment was the only thing visible.

1. time I was right but the people had been move to my seat because of their misbehavior. Sis (5 yo) and I (9 yo) got upgraded to emergency row because we knew that trying to open the door midflight was a bad thing to do.

2. I was sick as a dog with a combo sinus/airplane headache. I was in the wrong seat because I misread the tags. Since it was an case of aisle for an aisle situation the gentleman took pity on me and just took my seat after telling the crew about the situation and getting their OK.

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LizaJane May 6, 2014 at 9:49 pm

People are saying she could have avoided the issue by showing him her boarding pass/ticket. Why should she do it just because he wanted her to?
HE could have avoided the whole thing by not being a jerk.

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JeanLouiseFinch May 6, 2014 at 10:36 pm

This story just demonstrates that there are some people that cannot be trusted on public transportation. On the other hand, can you imagine how badly this guy probably drives?

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patty May 7, 2014 at 1:13 am

Nostalgic Gal, those are all good points you make, but I do have to disagree with one comment of yours. I think the person who is stuck in the middle seat should have both armrests. They have so little else!

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Amanda H. May 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

I’m inclined to say that everyone is only entitled to the armrest that has their volume controls (in case of in-flight entertainment) and seat reclining button. ;)

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NostalgicGal May 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Patty, I have been next to people that should have had two seats and thus I stake out that armrest FIRST as I am usually on the plane and in my seat before middle seat shows. I can unglue the elbow if I don’t have to defend my seat space, and I understand, I have been middle (travelling with my tall hubby, then we swap middle and window depending on what part of the flight it is) and I know how little space that is. I respect the rights of those of generous build but I paid for my seat and I’m not giving someone half my seat if they should not fit their seat.

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Medowynd May 7, 2014 at 1:38 am

On one flight I took, there was a teenager sitting next to her friend in the aisle seat. I always book an aisle seat. The girl did not want to move and suggested that I take her middle seat two rows down. I said that was not going to happen and she still refused to move. I called the flight attendant over and the girl reluctantly returned to her seat. She tried to stand near my seat and talk over my head, during the flight. That lasted about thirty seconds and I rang the call button. The girls were in huff, not my problem, read my book and ignored the snappy comments.

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Leah May 7, 2014 at 4:56 am

after all, you just said yourself you “check (your) own boarding pass …” you dont hand it off to another passenger to check. why? because you can do it yourself, and it’s nobody else’s business!

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Leah May 7, 2014 at 5:26 am

no, you weren’t, but asking him to check it himself, and asking a flight attendant to check it if you didn’t believe him, would have accomplished the same end, without

1. doing something many people (at least in these comments, and I suspect elsewhere) find rude; and

2. attempting to assume Seat Police authority that wasn’t yours to assume.

why not just ask an attendant if you dont trust asking him to tell you honestly? it’s their job, and i imagine theyd appreciate being asked to help rather than dealing with upset people should the person you asked not appreciate your assumption of authority (and again, based on comments here, odds of that are good).

(sorry for no caps, my phone is refusing to.use them for some reason) .

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ketchup May 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

No one gets to see my ticket. My name is actually so unique that I’m the only one on this planet who has it.

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crella May 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

“Because Aisle Seat Guy has the power to make her flight miserable if she sits next to him. Want to go to the loo? Aisle Seat Guy could refuse to get up and let her out. He could hum tunelessly the entire flight. Blow giant bubbles with gum. “Accidentally” spill his Bloody Mary in her lap during turbulence. ”

He might, but he would be in the wrong. I can see what you are saying, that if you don’t do what he asks he could make the flight miserable, but to me this just seems like knuckling under to a bully. I don’t think any other passenger has the right to look at any of my documents, they have no right to demand them. ‘Are you sure you have the right seat?’ , prompting me to look at my own boarding pass to confirm, is a reasonable question, ‘Show me your boarding pass’ is not. Bullies rely on people’s fear of repercussion to bully.

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Alli May 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Geez, if they hadn’t moved the lady to first class, this guy likely would have been arrested. I mean, really, is a night in jail, missing your trip, possibly having trouble flying in the future, and explaining that arrest on your record for every background check ever really worth this little hissy fit? Because I just can’t fathom it.

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Tara May 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm

I really don’t think this is an etiquette infraction. This is just nutjob behavior.

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Mojo May 8, 2014 at 5:28 am

You can’t get past security without a ticket. How could he think she didn’t have one?

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the-not-so-divine-miss-M May 8, 2014 at 5:56 am

I would never, ever risk anyone seeing my name on my boarding pass. Like one other commenter, I am the only person in the world with my name. I would try to show my boarding pass with only the seat visible, but then I’ve experienced people with an apparent need to hold the pass who then try to grab it. Snatching it out of their reach would only escalate the situation. Far better to just get an attendant over to referee the match instead.

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The Elf May 9, 2014 at 7:33 am

Until I married, I was one of two in the country with my first and last name, the other being a cousin – we were named after the same relative. And we had different middles, so the full versions were unique. I think people with more common names don’t understand how identifiable that makes us! And with this internet age, identifiable means trackable. If I had not taken my husband’s much more common surname, and if my first name hadn’t become more common with time, I’d be very, very careful about who knew my entire name.

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AD May 8, 2014 at 9:13 am

Good on the airline. It’s nice to see rules enforced and justice served in these situations.

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leticia May 9, 2014 at 6:40 am

I had a similar experience. My husband and I were on a short flight, so the plane was small. He is quite tall so he always asks for aisle seats. I was in the window seat of the same row of three. Another couple came to our row: the woman had the aisle seat of the opposite row and the man had the middle seat of our row, between my husband and me. We offered to let him sit on the window seat, explaining that my husband needed the extra space of the aisle for his legs. He refused: he wanted us to let him sit in the aisle seat because his wife was afraid of flying and he wanted to hold hands with her, and they also WANTED an aisle seat.
We told him we couldn’t do anything else for him. He could sit in the middle seat, the one that was assigned to him in his boarding pass, or in the window one, his choice. He started to make a scene and told us that he just had a very large drink so he would be going to the bathroom a lot if we made him sit anywhere but in the aisle seat.
The flight attendant heard his “threat” and changed us to a pair of much better seats, with more leg space for my husband.

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Enna May 10, 2014 at 6:00 am

I would be more inclinded to have him removed from the flight. After all you don’t know how he is going to behave – I hope the crew infromed security and customs of this man and they kept him waiting a long time while they tripple searched his bags.

I was watching a boarder programme based in Austrailia or New Zealand – one passanger kicked a sniffer dog on purpose and the dog handlers really took him task over it besides seraching him.

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honoria May 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Anyone who googles my name can find me very easily.
I would not have shown it to that man, either.

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