Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: BuffaloFang on October 09, 2012, 06:33:10 PM

Title: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: BuffaloFang on October 09, 2012, 06:33:10 PM
Just curious about what eHellions think.

Suppose a couple are flying together. Would you think it rude for the couple to select a window and an aisle seat (leaving the center seat empty) on the hopes that if the plane isn't full, nobody will choose to sit between them? The assumption being that if someone does purchase the seat between them, it's relatively easy to talk the center seat person into swapping for an aisle or a window. (and if the center seat person declines to swap, the couple doesn't mind sitting apart) Does your opinion change if it's a premium seat (like an exit row)? Thanks!
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Hillia on October 09, 2012, 06:37:32 PM
Not rude at all to hope for an empty seat.  As long as you're willing to work with the person who takes the middle seat, I don't see a problem at all.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: SiotehCat on October 09, 2012, 06:39:49 PM
I think its rude to ask someone to switch seats because of something you did deliberately.

It puts the other person on the spot and could make them uncomfortable if they refuse.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Two Ravens on October 09, 2012, 07:07:52 PM
I think its fine for a regular seat, but wishful thinking for a premium row seat like an exit row. If you manage to score two seats in an exit row, I would just sit together since I have never seen a middle exit row seat empty.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: SamiHami on October 09, 2012, 07:09:27 PM
It's not rude to ask, as long as you can accept "no" as an answer graciously.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: blahblahblah on October 09, 2012, 07:15:37 PM
Quote
I think its fine for a regular seat, but wishful thinking for a premium row seat like an exit row. If you manage to score two seats in an exit row, I would just sit together since I have never seen a middle exit row seat empty.
Really? In my experience, I've found that the middle exit row seats are more likely to be empty than other middle row seats. I usually fly JetBlue, which charges an extra $65 if you want to sit in the "extra legroom" exit rows, so I just assume that a lot of people aren't willing to shell out the extra cash for a bit of extra legroom if it means they have to be squashed in the middle.

Edited because "I've found that the middle exit row seats are more likely to be empty than other middle exit row seats" makes no sense. ::)
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: kherbert05 on October 09, 2012, 07:27:36 PM
I think it is fine to offer middle person to switch to their choice of seats. I don't know anyone that prefers the middle seat. If the person declines, I do think it is rude to talk over them during the flight, because you each are basically screaming in the middle person's ear.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: C0mputerGeek on October 09, 2012, 07:48:37 PM
Just curious about what eHellions think.

Suppose a couple are flying together. Would you think it rude for the couple to select a window and an aisle seat (leaving the center seat empty) on the hopes that if the plane isn't full, nobody will choose to sit between them? The assumption being that if someone does purchase the seat between them, it's relatively easy to talk the center seat person into swapping for an aisle or a window. (and if the center seat person declines to swap, the couple doesn't mind sitting apart) Does your opinion change if it's a premium seat (like an exit row)? Thanks!

My response is based on the fact that, during my Road Warrior years, I saw not a single person snatch up the middle seat on a plane as some sort of highly coveted spot.

I would say not rude. I very much doubt that someone will refuse to switch out of a middle to an aisle or window.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: buvezdevin on October 09, 2012, 07:54:01 PM
I agree - not rude to book and hope, provided that hope doesn't transmute to expectation.

Once had it happen that I was the middle seat between such a couple.  He, with an aisle seat, asked if I would take his girlfriend's window seat.  I declined to take the window, as I prefer not to see outside the plane (often triggers nervousness about flying, for me) but said I would trade for his aisle seat.  He eventually agreed, didn't seem happy, but it was his choice to book seats not together, and risk having a middle seat occupier who doesn't like the window seat - so he could have kept the aisle and sat apart from girlfriend, or lose the aisle seat.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 09, 2012, 07:57:21 PM
Like buvezdevin, I would be willing to trade for an aisle seat but I wouldn't be willing to trade for a window seat.  I have some mild claustrophobia and the window seat would raise my blood pressure for the whole flight.

I don't think you are rude as long as you are willing to accept that the middle person would have a preference for one seat over the other.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: kareng57 on October 09, 2012, 09:05:20 PM
I think it's fine, and it's not comparable to asking someone to switch seats in a different setting such as in a theatre.  While I know that many people prefer a window or aisle seat - I honestly can't imagine that someone would prefer the middle seat.  It's kind of the worst of both worlds.....If it was a couple travelling together, I'd guess that either one of them would happily switch with Middle-Seat passenger, depending on whether he/she preferred aisle or window.  If only one of them would be willing to swap, then it's best not to offer.  Of course, everyone has to graciously accept it if for some reason Middle Seater decides that he/she would prefer the status quo.

Re the exit row - I'd think that you might have to check with the flight attendants, because that row is supposed to contain fairly able-bodied people who are able to open the exit doors.  Of course it shouldn't matter exactly where they are seated as long as it's in the same row - but better safe than sorry.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Tea Drinker on October 09, 2012, 09:23:50 PM
When I've done this, I've phrased the suggestion as "would you like to change seats with me?" so that if they don't want to for whatever reason, they can say "no, thank you." Yes, they would probably realize that I was asking for my own sake: but etiquette is partly about giving each other an easy out, so I make it an offer, not a request.

If I felt that I needed to sit next to my traveling companion, I would select adjoining seats and accept that this meant one of us would definitely be in the middle seat.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on October 09, 2012, 09:39:15 PM
It's not rude to ask, as long as you can accept "no" as an answer graciously.

POD to this.

And Murphy's Law says you'll probably get the one person in the world who LOVES the middle seat, and doesn't want to trade!  :P
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Figgie on October 09, 2012, 09:48:53 PM
I think that it is fairly common for traveling companions to book an aisle and window seat, hoping that the middle seat remains open.  To increase the odds of this, I would choose seats as far back in the plane as possible, as often those seats are the last to be filled.  Also, if there is someone in the middle seat, be willing to let that person choose whether they want an aisle or a window seat if they agree to your polite request to change seats. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: kareng57 on October 09, 2012, 10:03:39 PM
I think that it is fairly common for traveling companions to book an aisle and window seat, hoping that the middle seat remains open.  To increase the odds of this, I would choose seats as far back in the plane as possible, as often those seats are the last to be filled.  Also, if there is someone in the middle seat, be willing to let that person choose whether they want an aisle or a window seat if they agree to your polite request to change seats.


Another option for a couple is to choose opposite-row aisle seats.  Late Dh and I did this the last couple of times that we flew.  Naturally hand-holding will be kind of difficult  :) but at least the two of us could communicate without talking "over" another passenger.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: BuffaloFang on October 09, 2012, 10:18:04 PM
I think that it is fairly common for traveling companions to book an aisle and window seat, hoping that the middle seat remains open.  To increase the odds of this, I would choose seats as far back in the plane as possible, as often those seats are the last to be filled.  Also, if there is someone in the middle seat, be willing to let that person choose whether they want an aisle or a window seat if they agree to your polite request to change seats.


Another option for a couple is to choose opposite-row aisle seats.  Late Dh and I did this the last couple of times that we flew.  Naturally hand-holding will be kind of difficult  :) but at least the two of us could communicate without talking "over" another passenger.

I think this is what made me rethink the situation.  Perhaps another couple would be happy with across-the-aisle seats, (ie, it could have been couple A, Split Couple B, and Couple C) but since the seats are seemingly taken, they end up choosing a less optimal seat elsewhere on the plane.

Thanks for the responses everyone!
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Cosmasia on October 10, 2012, 01:03:43 AM
I think everyone else has voiced it really well so I just want to say something that came to mind, in the case of the stranger declining to switch.

You have to be sure you and your partner are able to fly without talking much to each other. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I hate hate haaaate when I'm stuck between two people (in a class, at a show, anywhere really) who keep talking in front of/behind me to each other. I feel like I have to stay back or have to lean forward, and it's just really distracting. I also have anxiety so it kind of makes it worse that I basically have no peace.

Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sweetonsno on October 10, 2012, 01:52:10 AM
I think everyone else has voiced it really well so I just want to say something that came to mind, in the case of the stranger declining to switch.

You have to be sure you and your partner are able to fly without talking much to each other. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I hate hate haaaate when I'm stuck between two people (in a class, at a show, anywhere really) who keep talking in front of/behind me to each other. I feel like I have to stay back or have to lean forward, and it's just really distracting. I also have anxiety so it kind of makes it worse that I basically have no peace.

ITA. It's not rude to hope you get an empty seat, but it is rude to act like you have an empty seat when you don't. Talking over the person in the middle (or passing things back and forth, or trying to watch the same DVD) are all no-nos.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: cicero on October 10, 2012, 02:41:36 AM
I think that it is fairly common for traveling companions to book an aisle and window seat, hoping that the middle seat remains open.  To increase the odds of this, I would choose seats as far back in the plane as possible, as often those seats are the last to be filled.  Also, if there is someone in the middle seat, be willing to let that person choose whether they want an aisle or a window seat if they agree to your polite request to change seats.


Another option for a couple is to choose opposite-row aisle seats.  Late Dh and I did this the last couple of times that we flew.  Naturally hand-holding will be kind of difficult  :) but at least the two of us could communicate without talking "over" another passenger.
On a 12 hour flight i once took (it was a last minute for me so i got the last seat on the flight) -  configuration was 3 4 3  and i had the second seat on the middle section (so i had one person on my right and two on my left. yeah, lots of fun). i had a very nice elderly lady on my right and i realized that her husband was sitting across the aisle from her so i offered her my seat if they wanted to sit together. She said "oh no thanks darling, this is close enough for me"  ;D
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: wx4caster on October 10, 2012, 07:26:59 AM
I think everyone else has voiced it really well so I just want to say something that came to mind, in the case of the stranger declining to switch.

You have to be sure you and your partner are able to fly without talking much to each other. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I hate hate haaaate when I'm stuck between two people (in a class, at a show, anywhere really) who keep talking in front of/behind me to each other. I feel like I have to stay back or have to lean forward, and it's just really distracting. I also have anxiety so it kind of makes it worse that I basically have no peace.

This. Cosmasia's wording is so much more polite than what I was thinking.   ;)
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: cattlekid on October 10, 2012, 07:27:29 AM
This is our mode of operation on Southwest.  Since there is no assigned seating, you can often take the aisle and window seats and not get anyone sitting between you unless it is a really crowded flight.  I never thought about it as possibly being rude, I just thought about it as self-preservation because I need an aisle to help with legroom and my husband needs extra space in general.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: platypus109 on October 10, 2012, 01:42:41 PM
I'd say it depends on the reason for the empty middle seat.  A few years back I'd been assigned an aisle seat only to encounter a mother with her two small (toddler age) children sitting in my seat because the airline had assigned them separate seats.  As I didn't feel comfortable forcing a mother to sit without her children, I was forced to take her middle seat - between a large couple that easily weighed in the high 200's or 300's.   I'm not small myself and was in the lower 200's at the time of this story and these people dwarfed me in terms of circumference.  It was clear they'd selected an aisle and a window so as to avoid having to pay for an additional seat.  When I asked the couple if either one wanted to sit in the middle they both declined - as was their right; however, I ended up spending the next four hours sandwiched between  people who had to put their weight on me just to sit in their seat.  If anything had happened I am certain I would have had extreme difficulty getting out of my seat. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: rashea on October 10, 2012, 01:47:39 PM
I'd say it depends on the reason for the empty middle seat.  A few years back I'd been assigned an aisle seat only to encounter a mother with her two small (toddler age) children sitting in my seat because the airline had assigned them separate seats.  As I didn't feel comfortable forcing a mother to sit without her children, I was forced to take her middle seat - between a large couple that easily weighed in the high 200's or 300's.   I'm not small myself and was in the lower 200's at the time of this story and these people dwarfed me in terms of circumference.  It was clear they'd selected an aisle and a window so as to avoid having to pay for an additional seat.  When I asked the couple if either one wanted to sit in the middle they both declined - as was their right; however, I ended up spending the next four hours sandwiched between  people who had to put their weight on me just to sit in their seat.  If anything had happened I am certain I would have had extreme difficulty getting out of my seat.

In this situation I would have insisted that they not be in my seat. Sorry, but you do not get to lean on me simply because the airline doesn't provide appropriate room for larger people. I would say they were very rude.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 10, 2012, 01:58:26 PM
I think I'd have rather sat with the two toddlers...   ;)
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: snowdragon on October 10, 2012, 02:02:50 PM
I'd say it depends on the reason for the empty middle seat.  A few years back I'd been assigned an aisle seat only to encounter a mother with her two small (toddler age) children sitting in my seat because the airline had assigned them separate seats.  As I didn't feel comfortable forcing a mother to sit without her children, I was forced to take her middle seat - between a large couple that easily weighed in the high 200's or 300's.   I'm not small myself and was in the lower 200's at the time of this story and these people dwarfed me in terms of circumference.  It was clear they'd selected an aisle and a window so as to avoid having to pay for an additional seat.  When I asked the couple if either one wanted to sit in the middle they both declined - as was their right; however, I ended up spending the next four hours sandwiched between  people who had to put their weight on me just to sit in their seat.  If anything had happened I am certain I would have had extreme difficulty getting out of my seat.

In this situation I would have insisted that they not be in my seat. Sorry, but you do not get to lean on me simply because the airline doesn't provide appropriate room for larger people. I would say they were very rude.


 I would have refused to  switch with the kids and let the FA work it out. I am not spending any amount of time in physical contact with strangers because someone took my seat.  There are ways for the FA to deal  with this that the average passenger doesn't have - and I think you were really nice, all of the other adults not so much.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: NyaChan on October 10, 2012, 02:11:45 PM
I think it depends on the situation for me - in the one described here, I'd politely decline to give up my seat - because 1) the mother just took it without even asking and 2) the other seat was extremely uncomfortable.  Otherwise, I'd give it up because I still remember with a good bit of gratitude an Australian gentleman who gave up his seat for me when I was little-

A flight was overcrowded and they put me, about 6-7 years old, about 10 rows away from my mom on an international flight.  I was seated in a window seat by a young woman originally and was okay, but she then switched with an older man.  To my 7 year old eyes, he was really creepy, I felt boxed into my seat as he knew the passenger in front of us and was loudly talking and gesturing wildly. I just sat there silently crying until I heard my name - my mom was in the aisle seat across from a the nice gentleman and when she explained what had happened and asked nicely, he gave up his aisle seat to go sit in the window seat where I was.  The older lady next to me whispered that she was glad I was sitting next to her now so that she could put her feet up without worrying about her skirt slipping - it was a good flight after that!
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 10, 2012, 02:16:29 PM
I'm willing to give up my seat to help out a situation like when a family gets split up.  However, if I'm giving up my aisle seat, I'm only willing to accept another aisle seat.  If you can make that happen, I'll gladly move to help someone out.  But if you can't?  Sorry, I'm not moving.

(I have mild claustrophobia and am a bit of a nervous flyer.  So I'm up and down to the washroom a lot.  Aisle seat keeps it all in check.  Don't have an aisle seat?  I'd probably be puking in short order from nerves and motion sickness.  I can handle either the motion or the nerves on their own.  Put the two together?  Not so much.)
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: GratefulMaria on October 10, 2012, 02:47:30 PM
I was the middle person in a row of three, couple had the aisle and window seats and had already settled their things into mine early in the boarding process.  They looked very dismayed but didn't ask to switch and refused (politely) when I offered.  I think any civil behavior that doesn't treat your fellow paying passenger like an intruder should be fine.   :)
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on October 10, 2012, 03:34:42 PM
I think it depends on the situation for me - in the one described here, I'd politely decline to give up my seat - because 1) the mother just took it without even asking and 2) the other seat was extremely uncomfortable.  Otherwise, I'd give it up because I still remember with a good bit of gratitude an Australian gentleman who gave up his seat for me when I was little-

Not saying that you don't have the right to decline to give up your seat, but I would give the mother a little bit of slack here.  She has two small toddlers, and it's unlikely she can leave them at separate seats while waiting for the people who have the right to those seats to come.  So I can understand that she decided to keep them with her, even if it means they were sitting on other people's seats for a little bit.  For all we know she had appealed to the flight attendant and the flight attendant told her to sit there with her kids while waiting for Platypus to come.  I hope she at least asked Platypus politely about switching seats.  Of course Platypus has the right to decline, as well as to go to the flight attendant to find a solution. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Betelnut on October 10, 2012, 06:53:51 PM
Once I'm settled and strapped in with my bag tucked in below, I don't want to move.  Inertia, I guess.  So I might not move if asked.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: bopper on October 11, 2012, 08:20:09 AM
I think I would have taken one look at the replacement seat situation and gone back to the mom and say that switching to that seat isn't going work out for you so she needs to talk to the Flight Attendent about another solution.

Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: MindsEye on October 11, 2012, 08:33:22 AM
I'm willing to give up my seat to help out a situation like when a family gets split up.  However, if I'm giving up my aisle seat, I'm only willing to accept another aisle seat.  If you can make that happen, I'll gladly move to help someone out.  But if you can't?  Sorry, I'm not moving.

Ditto.  If you want me to give up the seat that I selected when I booked my ticket (and may have paid extra money for, in the case of economy plus seats) then I will only give it up for an equal or better seat. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: fountainof on October 11, 2012, 09:49:29 AM
When I went on a flight when I was 18, I had some sort of baby/toddler situation, I don't recall exactly but the FA asked me to move to a middle seat somewhere else because the kids had to sit on the parents' laps so they wanted the whole row.  I would have been okay staying beside the parents and kids as long as I got the window as I had headphones and I would have just ignored them but I didn't want to sit in the middle at all.  Instead I was bumped to a first class window seat and enjoyed it!  I even got a meal!  So I think it is best sometimes to approach the FA in the case of people sitting in wrong seats, and stick to your guns as sometimes there are better options than accepting two large people touching you all flight.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 12, 2012, 12:04:48 AM
I do this all the time when pre-selecting seats on the plane.  If you look at the seat choices on the seat map, especially on a flight that is mostly full, it is the aisle/windows that fill up first with many middles empty. 

If someone sits in the middle, like they did on our flight from Helsinki to Paris recently, my husband asked if she wanted the aisle and she agreed.  We had a great convo with the girl who recently moved to Helsinki for a job and was going home to Paris for a visit.  I think she enjoyed practicing her english with us.

Had she said no, we would have politely accepted her decision and not pursued it any further. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Herim on October 12, 2012, 11:17:59 AM
Sometime it is.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Sophia on October 12, 2012, 01:45:19 PM
I think it is not rude, particularly if you offer the choice of who to switch with.  Some people like me prefer the window. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on October 12, 2012, 03:57:48 PM
It does seem rude to me but I don't think I can articulate why.  It feels like using your status as a couple to manipulate the likelihood of getting more space which increases the chance of a single traveler having to sit between strangers.

Realistically, the odds of a couple having to sit apart are low; almost always someone will be willing to swap out from being seated in the middle if they can.  So the move gives couples an advantage that single people don't have in getting a favourable seating situation.  That is why I never do this when traveling with my husband. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: BuffaloFang on October 12, 2012, 04:27:38 PM
I think it is not rude, particularly if you offer the choice of who to switch with.  Some people like me prefer the window.

So what if the couple was only willing to give up the aisle seat? Ie, if you only wanted the window, then the couple declines to swap at all? would that be rude? 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: BuffaloFang on October 12, 2012, 04:29:49 PM
It does seem rude to me but I don't think I can articulate why.  It feels like using your status as a couple to manipulate the likelihood of getting more space which increases the chance of a single traveler having to sit between strangers.

Realistically, the odds of a couple having to sit apart are low; almost always someone will be willing to swap out from being seated in the middle if they can.  So the move gives couples an advantage that single people don't have in getting a favourable seating situation.  That is why I never do this when traveling with my husband.

Could you please explain?  Wouldn't timing of your booking plays a bigger factor - if the couple booked last minute it's likely they'd have to sit apart in various middle seats as well, no? and if you booked before the couple, you could choose either aisle or window?
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Jaina on October 12, 2012, 06:07:13 PM
I think everyone else has voiced it really well so I just want to say something that came to mind, in the case of the stranger declining to switch.

You have to be sure you and your partner are able to fly without talking much to each other. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I hate hate haaaate when I'm stuck between two people (in a class, at a show, anywhere really) who keep talking in front of/behind me to each other. I feel like I have to stay back or have to lean forward, and it's just really distracting. I also have anxiety so it kind of makes it worse that I basically have no peace.

ITA. It's not rude to hope you get an empty seat, but it is rude to act like you have an empty seat when you don't. Talking over the person in the middle (or passing things back and forth, or trying to watch the same DVD) are all no-nos.

Agreed, it's not fun when that happens. My husband experienced it recently while flying for work-- he was sandwiched between two people who clearly knew each other and chatted over him throughout the flight. Is there any polite way of asking people to stop, when they do that?
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Onyx_TKD on October 12, 2012, 06:08:25 PM
It does seem rude to me but I don't think I can articulate why.  It feels like using your status as a couple to manipulate the likelihood of getting more space which increases the chance of a single traveler having to sit between strangers.

Realistically, the odds of a couple having to sit apart are low; almost always someone will be willing to swap out from being seated in the middle if they can.  So the move gives couples an advantage that single people don't have in getting a favourable seating situation.  That is why I never do this when traveling with my husband.

Could you please explain?  Wouldn't timing of your booking plays a bigger factor - if the couple booked last minute it's likely they'd have to sit apart in various middle seats as well, no? and if you booked before the couple, you could choose either aisle or window?

I think what Miss Unleaded is getting at is this:

A couple booking early enough that there are full rows available is guaranteed to avoid the worst-case scenario of being stuck between two strangers--if they book side-by-side seats, one will be against either the window or aisle and the other will be in the middle between their partner and a stranger (or an empty seat, but that's unlikely unless the plane is empty enough for all the rows to have two people or fewer). If the couple chooses an aisle and window seat, they increase the likelihood of having the undesirable middle seat remain empty, at the risk of ending up with a stranger sitting between them. However, because the middle seat between two strangers is undesirable, if it is booked, they will probably be able to trade back to the side-by-side seats they initially passed up. IOW, the couple uses the fact that they are traveling together to increase their odds of having an empty seat between them while taking only a very small risk of ending up in a worse seating situation than if they chose side-by-side seats. OTOH, if they're successful in keeping that middle seat empty, they ensure that another passenger must sit between two strangers rather than an aisle/window seat next to one stranger--i.e., their actions have directly worsened the seating situation for that other passenger stuck in the middle.

YMMV whether you think this is just life or whether you think it's unfair gaming of the system, but I think that's what Miss Unleaded is getting at. I personally would choose not to use this trick for the same reason.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Sophia on October 12, 2012, 10:44:54 PM
I think it is not rude, particularly if you offer the choice of who to switch with.  Some people like me prefer the window.

So what if the couple was only willing to give up the aisle seat? Ie, if you only wanted the window, then the couple declines to swap at all? would that be rude?

They'd be right on the line.  They would also run a greater risk of being told No just out of stubbornness. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on October 13, 2012, 01:55:04 PM
It does seem rude to me but I don't think I can articulate why.  It feels like using your status as a couple to manipulate the likelihood of getting more space which increases the chance of a single traveler having to sit between strangers.

Realistically, the odds of a couple having to sit apart are low; almost always someone will be willing to swap out from being seated in the middle if they can.  So the move gives couples an advantage that single people don't have in getting a favourable seating situation.  That is why I never do this when traveling with my husband.

Could you please explain?  Wouldn't timing of your booking plays a bigger factor - if the couple booked last minute it's likely they'd have to sit apart in various middle seats as well, no? and if you booked before the couple, you could choose either aisle or window?

I think what Miss Unleaded is getting at is this:
  • Most people would rather sit next to someone they know (i.e., their partner) than sit next to a stranger.
  • Most people would rather sit next to one stranger (i.e., aisle seat, window seat, or middle seat next to someone they know) than sit between two strangers.
  • Most people would like best of all to have an empty seat next to them, thus giving them extra room.

A couple booking early enough that there are full rows available is guaranteed to avoid the worst-case scenario of being stuck between two strangers--if they book side-by-side seats, one will be against either the window or aisle and the other will be in the middle between their partner and a stranger (or an empty seat, but that's unlikely unless the plane is empty enough for all the rows to have two people or fewer). If the couple chooses an aisle and window seat, they increase the likelihood of having the undesirable middle seat remain empty, at the risk of ending up with a stranger sitting between them. However, because the middle seat between two strangers is undesirable, if it is booked, they will probably be able to trade back to the side-by-side seats they initially passed up. IOW, the couple uses the fact that they are traveling together to increase their odds of having an empty seat between them while taking only a very small risk of ending up in a worse seating situation than if they chose side-by-side seats. OTOH, if they're successful in keeping that middle seat empty, they ensure that another passenger must sit between two strangers rather than an aisle/window seat next to one stranger--i.e., their actions have directly worsened the seating situation for that other passenger stuck in the middle.

YMMV whether you think this is just life or whether you think it's unfair gaming of the system, but I think that's what Miss Unleaded is getting at. I personally would choose not to use this trick for the same reason.

Yes that's it.  You did a much better job of explaining it than I did. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 13, 2012, 02:03:54 PM
The odds of sitting next to a stranger when traveling alone is pretty much 100% .   If seated in the.middle seat traveling alone, again odds are 100%.   

Everyone has ample opportunity to choose their seats most of the time.  If I get online in enough time to.choose a window and aisle for us, there is nothing wrong with that.  A solo traveler has same opportunity to choose their seat.  First come, first served. 

As I said upthread, the middle seats fill up last no matter single or companion travelers. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: GeauxTigers on October 14, 2012, 02:21:50 PM
Couples who desire to sit next to each other also have the option of selecting an airline that flies planes with 2-seat configurations in economy - regional jets, MD-80s, 767s, and larger aircraft in certain configurations. Seatguru is your friend - when booking your ticket you can usually see exactly which configuration is scheduled by looking at the seat chart on the airlines' website and looking at the number and arrangments of the first/business class seats. Of course, the airlines may switch planes at any time.

There's always the option to purchase seats in a premium cabin.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Nuts&Makeup on October 14, 2012, 05:16:42 PM
I don't think it's rude, but I think its getting to be an unrealistic hope that the middle won't be used. I have had to fly several times this year and  each one was filled. Those middle seats are excellent places for the airline employees flying on standby!
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: miranova on October 14, 2012, 06:03:11 PM
I agree that every person, whether coupled or single, has the same opportunity to book their preferred seat ahead of time.  Therefore it can not be rude for couples who book first to choose what they prefer.  Yes it is rude to talk around someone, but that is a seperate issue.  That is what it rude, not the booking of preferred seats for whatever reason.  Someone's thought process can't be rude, only their actions.  Booking two particular seats is not rude.  The rude things would be:  not taking no for an answer when offering a switch, sighing or acting otherwise annoyed when the stranger refuses, or talking over a stranger the whole flight.  If the couple just sits there and does their own thing the whole flight, I can't see how this could inconvenience the single traveler in any way, any differently than sitting next to two unrelated strangers would.  So their internal motivation makes no difference as long as they don't act rudely.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Betelnut on October 14, 2012, 06:06:49 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Lindee on October 14, 2012, 06:25:25 PM
On the last few international flights I took passengers had to return to their assigned seating for landing and takeoff if they had changed seats during the flight. (presumably for identification purposes in case of an accident).
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: TheaterDiva1 on October 14, 2012, 06:28:19 PM
Agreed, it's not fun when that happens. My husband experienced it recently while flying for work-- he was sandwiched between two people who clearly knew each other and chatted over him throughout the flight. Is there any polite way of asking people to stop, when they do that?

Why didn't he just ask if either of them would switch with him?  They they could sit together, and your DH benefits two ways - no more talking over him, plus he's be moving into a better seat (whether it be the aisle or the window, that has to be better than the middle, right?)... everyone wins!
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 15, 2012, 12:29:00 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

I much prefer comfort on a flight.  I specifically select window and aisle for us and if someone is between us, I don't have a problem with that.  I do it to have a greater chance of the middle seat empty.  I go to the website first to book our seats.  If the person who doesn't want to sit in the middle with a couple, perhaps they should check in earlier online so they can select their favourite seat.

This is a first come, first served thing.  Nothing more, nothing less.   It is not rude or manipulative.  It is simply a part of the inconvenience of flying.   There is nothing wrong with doing what is necessary within the rules of the airline to maximize our comfort.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: wolfie on October 15, 2012, 12:50:39 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

It ends up being better for the singleton though. If two strangers book the window and aisle the singleton will be stuck with the middle. If a couple books the window and aisle the singleton might be asked to switch to a better seat.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: miranova on October 15, 2012, 09:46:49 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

So what if they want to sit together?  Again, I don't see how internal motivation makes a difference.  As long as they don't ACT rudely, what they WANT inside their own heads won't impact the single traveler in any way. 

Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: kareng57 on October 15, 2012, 10:06:07 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

So what if they want to sit together?  Again, I don't see how internal motivation makes a difference.  As long as they don't ACT rudely, what they WANT inside their own heads won't impact the single traveler in any way.


Agree. I don't see how it's manipulative at all - they book the window and aisle seats knowing that it's very possible that someone will book the middle seat and that he/she might want to stay put.

Of course it would be rude if they keep trying to cajole Middle to move, and/or keep talking over Middle passenger.  But if they don't, it's just a gamble that they took that did not work out.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Jaina on October 15, 2012, 10:39:02 PM
Agreed, it's not fun when that happens. My husband experienced it recently while flying for work-- he was sandwiched between two people who clearly knew each other and chatted over him throughout the flight. Is there any polite way of asking people to stop, when they do that?

Why didn't he just ask if either of them would switch with him?  They they could sit together, and your DH benefits two ways - no more talking over him, plus he's be moving into a better seat (whether it be the aisle or the window, that has to be better than the middle, right?)... everyone wins!

He did ask if they'd like to switch. They airily replied "Oh no, we're fine!"
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: kareng57 on October 15, 2012, 11:44:36 PM
Agreed, it's not fun when that happens. My husband experienced it recently while flying for work-- he was sandwiched between two people who clearly knew each other and chatted over him throughout the flight. Is there any polite way of asking people to stop, when they do that?

Why didn't he just ask if either of them would switch with him?  They they could sit together, and your DH benefits two ways - no more talking over him, plus he's be moving into a better seat (whether it be the aisle or the window, that has to be better than the middle, right?)... everyone wins!

He did ask if they'd like to switch. They airily replied "Oh no, we're fine!"


Ouch.  Obviously they both wanted to keep the more comfortable seats - window and aisle - and never mind the poor sap in the middle.  For travel-partners who "plan" this, and hope that the middle seat might not be taken and it actually is - they need to find some other way to converse.  It's terribly rude to keep doing this over the middle-seater, never mind how it happened.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Betelnut on October 16, 2012, 08:31:47 AM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

So what if they want to sit together?  Again, I don't see how internal motivation makes a difference.  As long as they don't ACT rudely, what they WANT inside their own heads won't impact the single traveler in any way.


Agree. I don't see how it's manipulative at all - they book the window and aisle seats knowing that it's very possible that someone will book the middle seat and that he/she might want to stay put.

Of course it would be rude if they keep trying to cajole Middle to move, and/or keep talking over Middle passenger.  But if they don't, it's just a gamble that they took that did not work out.

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on October 16, 2012, 09:18:21 AM

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

I totally agree with you, but I don't think further discussion will be fruitful   :)

For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: drzim on October 16, 2012, 10:45:07 AM
I don't see anything rude about it --first come first serve when booking seats.

As a single person, I have basically the same choices when booking online.  In fact, I recently booked a flight to DC for a conference I'm attending.

I prefer a window seat, so I purposely chose to book a seat in a row where the aisle seat was already taken, but the middle seat was not.  I also chose a row closer to the back of the plane, as the front rows tend to fill up faster.  If the flight is not full, there is a good chance that the middle seat will remain vacant.

I could have chosen to book in an empty row, or in a row closer to the front, but I booked my seat to increase the chance of having an empty middle.  I don't think this is rude at all.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 16, 2012, 07:48:53 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

So what if they want to sit together?  Again, I don't see how internal motivation makes a difference.  As long as they don't ACT rudely, what they WANT inside their own heads won't impact the single traveler in any way.


Agree. I don't see how it's manipulative at all - they book the window and aisle seats knowing that it's very possible that someone will book the middle seat and that he/she might want to stay put.

Of course it would be rude if they keep trying to cajole Middle to move, and/or keep talking over Middle passenger.  But if they don't, it's just a gamble that they took that did not work out.

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

Well, there are people who book window and/or aisle hoping no one sits beside them.   It is no different than one person or a couple doing the same thing.

There is NOTHING dishonest about booking aisle/window for a couple.  I don't want to sit in the middle and I won't if I don't have to.  I book a middle so a single person can sit in window or aisle?  Why would I do that?  I want comfort on a plane.  If I have the opp to choose my seat, I will choose it as best suits us.  Nothing dishonest about that.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 16, 2012, 07:49:40 PM

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

I totally agree with you, but I don't think further discussion will be fruitful   :)

For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: wolfie on October 16, 2012, 07:57:22 PM

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

I totally agree with you, but I don't think further discussion will be fruitful   :)

For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.

I am taking a trip to Germany next Wed and my mom booked me into a Window and an Aisle so it must depend on the airline.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: kareng57 on October 16, 2012, 09:22:10 PM
But doesn't the couple who are booking the best seats WANT to sit together so when they take the best seats, they are forcing someone to chose the "least best" seat knowing that, if needed, one of the couple will end up in the middle anyway.  I'm not saying it is rude but just...manipulative?

So what if they want to sit together?  Again, I don't see how internal motivation makes a difference.  As long as they don't ACT rudely, what they WANT inside their own heads won't impact the single traveler in any way.


Agree. I don't see how it's manipulative at all - they book the window and aisle seats knowing that it's very possible that someone will book the middle seat and that he/she might want to stay put.

Of course it would be rude if they keep trying to cajole Middle to move, and/or keep talking over Middle passenger.  But if they don't, it's just a gamble that they took that did not work out.

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!


No one in this thread has mentioned "asking" the middle-passenger to move.

What's been mentioned is offering them the use of the window or aisle seat instead.  If he/she does not wish to do so, then that's the end of that.

I realize that you are unlikely to change your mind, but I wanted to clarify that.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: MariaE on October 17, 2012, 12:02:26 AM

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

I totally agree with you, but I don't think further discussion will be fruitful   :)

For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.

I am taking a trip to Germany next Wed and my mom booked me into a Window and an Aisle so it must depend on the airline.

Definitely depends on the airline. I flew Copenhagen-Newark last year and could book my seats three months in advance.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 17, 2012, 11:42:40 AM
There is nothing rude about a couple booking a window and aisle seat, hoping the middle seat remains empty.  There is nothing rude about asking the singleton who had to book the middle seat if they might like to trade for the aisle or window seat so the couple can sit together.

What would be rude is not accepting the singleton's 'no' with grace or talking over the singleton the entire flight if the singleton is still in the middle, whether or not the couple offered to switch seats.

As a singleton, if the couple offered to switch seats, I'd happily take the aisle.  I wouldn't, however, take the window.  I need to get up to use the washroom fairly frequently so I would prefer to only disturb one person, rather than two.  I do try to book my seat on-line as quickly as early as I can so I can get an aisle seat all the time.  I haven't yet had to take a middle seat.  (One airline I fly lets me book my seat when I purchase the ticket; the other lets me go on-line 24 hours before the flight and check in and book my seat.)
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Lynnv on October 17, 2012, 11:58:18 AM
There is nothing rude about a couple booking a window and aisle seat, hoping the middle seat remains empty.  There is nothing rude about asking the singleton who had to book the middle seat if they might like to trade for the aisle or window seat so the couple can sit together.

What would be rude is not accepting the singleton's 'no' with grace or talking over the singleton the entire flight if the singleton is still in the middle, whether or not the couple offered to switch seats.

I agree.  I fly by myself on a regular basis (though it is no longer an every week event).  I don't think it is rude if someone on my plane has attempted to increase the chances of having an empty middle seat.  Heck, I usually book an aisle seat where the window is full and the middle empty in hopes of managing just the same thing without having a second person to coordinate with.  And DH and I do this on the occasions where we are flying together.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 17, 2012, 06:53:55 PM

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

I totally agree with you, but I don't think further discussion will be fruitful   :)

For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.

I am taking a trip to Germany next Wed and my mom booked me into a Window and an Aisle so it must depend on the airline.

Definitely depends on the airline. I flew Copenhagen-Newark last year and could book my seats three months in advance.

It must depend then, because I couldn't book my seats from ORD to Helsinki or Helsinki to Paris - On American Airlines and Finnair. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: secretrebel on October 18, 2012, 07:01:19 AM
I'm not sure that rude is the right word for this. I would consider it "gaming the system". It's using your knowledge of the system to advantage yourself. It might be selfish but it's not intrinsically rude.

That said, it opens the door for all sorts of other rude behaviour such as the talking across someone or asking someone to move for your convenience.

I also don't see a difference in asking someone if they'd like to move to an allegedly better seat and asking them to move for your convenience. Either way it's going into the situation with a plan that if someone takes the middle seat you will ask/invite them to swap with you. That's not just gaming the system but potentially inconveniencing other people as well.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 18, 2012, 07:58:33 AM
How is it inconvenient to get a better seat?
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 18, 2012, 08:01:00 AM
How is it inconvenient to get a better seat?

You'd have to get up and move and move your stuff from under the seat in front of you but for me?  I wouldn't mind in the least if it meant I got the aisle seat.  I mean, I'd have to get up anyway to let the person into the window seat so moving my pack over one slot?  No problem.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 18, 2012, 12:53:43 PM
How is it inconvenient to get a better seat?

You'd have to get up and move and move your stuff from under the seat in front of you but for me?  I wouldn't mind in the least if it meant I got the aisle seat.  I mean, I'd have to get up anyway to let the person into the window seat so moving my pack over one slot?  No problem.

My feelings exactly.   Seems like a minor inconvenience for ohhh  2 seconds to have several hours of comfort.  Sounds like a pretty good tradeoff.
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Lynnv on October 18, 2012, 01:43:56 PM
For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.

I am taking a trip to Germany next Wed and my mom booked me into a Window and an Aisle so it must depend on the airline.

Definitely depends on the airline. I flew Copenhagen-Newark last year and could book my seats three months in advance.

It must depend then, because I couldn't book my seats from ORD to Helsinki or Helsinki to Paris - On American Airlines and Finnair.

I flew to London not long after 9/11 and was able to book my seat (United) with no problems.  So it definitely has to do with the airline's policies and procedures rather than being a blanket rule.  I would suspect it has more to do with frequent flyer status and fare structure than 9/11.  A lot of times these days, you are not able to book a seat until 24 hours prior to a flight, unless you have some frequent flyer status.

edited because London should be capitalized.  And that is one of my pet peeves.  Grumble. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 18, 2012, 01:53:20 PM
For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.

I am taking a trip to Germany next Wed and my mom booked me into a Window and an Aisle so it must depend on the airline.

Definitely depends on the airline. I flew Copenhagen-Newark last year and could book my seats three months in advance.

It must depend then, because I couldn't book my seats from ORD to Helsinki or Helsinki to Paris - On American Airlines and Finnair.

I flew to london not long after 9/11 and was able to book my seat (United) with no problems.  So it definitely has to do with the airline's policies and procedures rather than being a blanket rule.  I would suspect it has more to do with frequent flyer status and fare structure than 9/11.  A lot of times these days, you are not able to book a seat until 24 hours prior to a flight, unless you have some frequent flyer status.

I think things have changed a lot since 9/11.  Now that I think of it, I couldn't check in online for my flight from Calgary to MSP on Delta.  I *think* in enquired why and was told that it depends on how they are set up at different airports. 

I am a frequent flier on AA and can choose my seats on domestic flights anytime after I book, not just at checkin time.  Other airlines don't let me do that.  It could depend on status, but I don't have status with AA in terms of enough miles to be someone special.  LOL
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: ClaireC79 on October 18, 2012, 03:39:25 PM
Having lost a relative in an airline crash (Phuket 2007) and having to wait 2 weeks before it was confirmed he had died in the crash and wasnt one of those badly burned and unrecognisable or unresponsive but still alive I do see the value of people being in the seats assigned to them
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: BuffaloFang on October 19, 2012, 11:15:31 AM

I guess I think of it as sort of manipulative because they are booking those two seats (that are not together) hoping that they can get three seats for two.  People generally won't take the middle seat unless that is the only one available.  "Hey let's take the two end seats and hope that no one will take the middle one!  If they do, we'll just ask them to move!"

So they are trying to force the situation to their advantage.  A more honest way to book seats would be to book seats that are together as, generally speaking, that's what they want anyway!

I totally agree with you, but I don't think further discussion will be fruitful   :)

For those people who say 'just go online and book in earlier if you want better seats', it's not always possible.  Every year my I travel from Sweden to Australia and for whatever reason (perhaps because the trip is over 30 hours from start to finish) I have never, not once, been able to check in for my flight online.  Sometimes I haven't even been able to check in for the whole journey at the airport :(

You are right... prebooking seats for an international flight is not allowed ... new security thing since 9/11.

I am taking a trip to Germany next Wed and my mom booked me into a Window and an Aisle so it must depend on the airline.

Definitely depends on the airline. I flew Copenhagen-Newark last year and could book my seats three months in advance.
Definitely depends on the airline.  I just booked a trip to Iceland for March, and I was able to choose the seats...which was what brought up the OP to begin with  ;D. 
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: BuffaloFang on October 19, 2012, 11:15:56 AM
Having lost a relative in an airline crash (Phuket 2007) and having to wait 2 weeks before it was confirmed he had died in the crash and wasnt one of those badly burned and unrecognisable or unresponsive but still alive I do see the value of people being in the seats assigned to them
I'm sorry for your loss.  :(
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 19, 2012, 02:47:53 PM
I'm sorry, too.

And you bring up a really good point!  Moving within the same row of seats wouldn't be too bad but if you're asked to move several rows away?  Could we ask the FA to make a hand written correction on the manifest?  Or is it all electronic now?
Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: sparksals on October 19, 2012, 04:10:52 PM
I'm not sure they change the seating manifest.  I was on an Air Canada flight last year in which a family of two parents and 4 kids sat in the group of seats behind me.  I believe it was a 3/3 configuration, so one parent on each side with two kids.  From the time they sat down, the kid started kicking the back of my seat.  I turned around and asked the mother to tell her child to please stop.   She turned to the kid and told him to stop, that the lady gets upset.   ::)

Anyway, turns out they were not supposed to be in those seats.  The rightful seat owner came up and told them they were in her seats.  The FA was right there and reseated the family together.  The reason they sat in that row is b/c they weren't seated together, so they just took the seats expecting someone to move for them.

AFAIK, the FA didn't change the manifest, although that may be a behind the scenes kind of thing.

Title: Re: Choosing seats on a plane: Is this rude?
Post by: White Lotus on October 19, 2012, 07:53:41 PM
We often fly a route, together, that has only one-class planes on an airline which, for assorted reasons, we need to use. We would gladly use miles or even money for the upgrade if it were available.  The Professor is tall and he really needs an upgrade or the aisle, and on long hauls, we always fly business or better (sometimes there is no business class, but I do rack up miles on business travel.  International First is heaven!) I am little, but am not a contortionist and often have to get up during this several-hour flight, which inconveniences the whole row, so I try to avoid windows, even though I like them.  If we let the airline (or in the old days, a travel agent) assign us seats I will always get a middle and someone else, usually someone huge (Murphy's law) will book the window, which means that fairly often we will be in the only full row on the plane and I will be squished to boot, and though I like cuddling with the Prof, on an airplane it is not practical, polite or even comfortable. The stranger, well, I would really rather not.  We now always book aisles across.  We have been married so long, we can communicate by telepathy <G>.  I will switch if asked, for an equal or better seat, and will take a window in a good cause, such as to enable a parent to sit with his/her children.  The Professor needs his legroom, so he usually won't except for another aisle.  We are able-bodied and will grab exit rows if we can get them, which usually solves both our problems, but those are, on this route/airline, assigned at the airport, not in advance.  No, it is NOT rude to plan for your own comfort.   It is first-come, first-served, and sometimes, if it is a last minute flight, I do get squished, but that is the way it goes.