I've offered to move, for the ease of a travelling family, and been refused. Must have been the best part of 30 years ago, but does anybody remember Standby and Guaranteed Standby? I don't think they exist any more, probably because of the security issues, and because cheap flights are a big promotional thing now, but when I was a student flying home from England to Ireland, full fare was very expensive. (I believe the Irish Sea was, mile for mile, the most expensive stretch of water to cross in Europe.) The airline offered Standby, which was about a quarter of the price, and you just turned up for a flight, and if there was room you flew, and if there wasn't, you waited for the next flight and hoped. If you picked your times carefully, you usually got to fly but you needed to bring a big book and be prepared to wait 24 hours. Guaranteed Standby was about half full fare, and again, you went when there was room, but they guaranteed you that you would fly on the third flight from the time you checked in. That meant that occasionally they had to put on an unscheduled flight, but I suppose they made the sums work.
Well, I used to go GS, but this one time, the airline had completely messed up the numbers. It was nearly Christmas so a lot of Irish people living in England were going home. There was supposed to be a flight every 2 hours and I turned up for the 10 a.m. one. It was full. Not a surprise - I was frankly not expecting to go before the third plane. The planes were 200 seaters, and by noon there were a thousand people, with a variety of tickets, waiting to fly. Some of them had been there since the night before. At that point, the airline stopped distinguishing between the types of tickets - which in itself wasn't well received - and simply started taking people in order of check-in. They also started borrowing aircraft from other airlines. I flew Air France in the end; the people on the flight ahead of us went El Al. Add in that this was to Belfast in the early 80s when security was... well, like we all go through now, but then, most people weren't used to it, so it was total mayhem.
I ended up sitting next to a woman with a little girl of about 4; in the row in front was her husband and their toddler, and both children wanted Mummy. Not Daddy. Daddy wouldn't do. Wanted Mummy. I knew nothing about children at the time, but I could see a meltdown approaching so I asked her if she would like me to change seats with her son so that she could have both children with her.
I have rarely seen an expression of such horror on a woman's face.
Her husband seemed keen, mind you!
Fortunately both children were asleep within 5 minutes of take-off, and I would guess that she had known they would be... but then they were woken after 50 minutes for landing, and the meltdown happened then...