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We’re Flying The Friendly Skies Again!

I flew yesterday, which was the day after you posted the story about the screaming child on the plane. Luckily no kids screamed but I did see rudeness unlike anything I have ever seen.

A lady in her sixties was traveling with her elderly mom. The mom was given pre-boarding status and taken on plane in a wheelchair. The mom had the middle seat and the daughter had the aisle. I boarded in group three and was across from them, so I was able to see/hear the whole conversation that occurred when the lady who had the window seat tried to get into her seat.

The daughter did not want to let the lady in. She was livid that her mom was going to be disturbed. The lady trying to enter the row kept apologizing and saying she wish she didn’t have to do it, but that was her seat and they had been announcing it was a full flight so there was no where to move to and they were going to need to let her in. She stayed very nice, calm and sympathetic the entire time. If it had been me, I would have pointed out that what did she expect to happen when you pre-board and if it was really that big a deal then the daughter should have taken the window seat to ensure this didn’t happen.

The daughter and her mom finally got up so the lady could get in to her seat. At which point the daughter very rudely told the lady to pay attention to their stuff and not step on anything.

When the flight ended, I walked off the plane behind them, as they apparently hadn’t ordered a wheelchair for the end. Which is why they stole someone else’s wheelchair when we reached the ramp. And when the attendant tried to tell the mom to get out the daughter said no and blocked everyone else from moving till the guy relented and called for another wheelchair for the person now stuck on the plane.

But hey, no kids screamed.    1005-18


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  • staceyizme October 8, 2018, 7:39 am

    People can only get away with stuff like this if they are allowed to. They should have been forced to deplane for being “in no condition to fly” as evidenced by the unreasonable nature of a demand that another passenger not access her own seat. They could have been booked on a later flight or banned altogether, completely at the discretion of the airline. Although I have to say, an alert airline crew wouldn’t have booked her into those two seats on a full flight and would have proactively ordered a chair for her, having seen the difficulty of dealing with her and the likelihood of problems at the other end. “Clearing the way” is a thing in business and in customer service and it’s how some episodes like these can be mitigated or avoided.

    • Anon October 8, 2018, 8:11 am

      I believe the account of the OP, but as someone who recently had to order a wheelchair for the first time, I’m not sure how it was possible for this pair to order a wheelchair only for their arrival to the airport and not for deplaning. I think it was automatic for me, and I was merely asked if I needed the wheelchair to come on the plane, or whether it could wait for me just outside the plane. But the notion that the window seat would be kept empty for them is ridiculous. I wonder if they just wanted the extra space, and the daughter had planned to move to the window just before takeoff? Middle seats are the worst.

      • lakey October 8, 2018, 10:50 am

        “I wonder if they just wanted the extra space, and the daughter had planned to move to the window just before takeoff?”
        This is what I wondered. There’ve been times when I’ve flown, and when I first sat down the seat next to me was empty. I always hope that the seat wasn’t sold and I’ll have some extra space.

        • Miss-E October 8, 2018, 12:12 pm

          Okay, but when someone comes along and sits in that seat you don’t refuse to let them sit right? This is a bizarre level of entitlement

        • Casey October 8, 2018, 1:19 pm

          I bet they booked these two seats for that very reason, hoping that they could turn away whoever booked the window seat and have the whole row to themselves.

        • Liz October 8, 2018, 1:34 pm

          Oh me too! doesn’t always happen though, but sometimes you get lucky. On an international flight a few years back, my first leg was about 6 hours, and i had the entire row of three to myself! it was wonderful!

      • staceyizme October 8, 2018, 12:26 pm

        I didn’t mean to imply that a seat should have been kept empty. I meant that it would have made more sense to book them on the inner two seats (or to at least offer them the choice, so that they could think through the logistical issues).
        Booking services of any kind should be seamless, but it’s not. Many who are employed in the airport are independent contractors, even if they man the ticket counters or courtesy areas. Since they aren’t directly employed by the airlines, they have no incentive to take extra care not to damage the brand.

        • keloe October 8, 2018, 3:12 pm

          On the other hand, if a person has mobility issues, it makes sense to put them in the aisle seat.

  • Jennifer Wilson Boozer October 8, 2018, 8:33 am


  • Melissa October 8, 2018, 10:28 am

    I sure hope the poor woman in the window seat didn’t have to use the restroom during the flight! The logical thing to do would have been for the daughter to ask the 3rd passenger if she’d mind switching seats, so mom could have moved down to the window seat, daughter moved to the middle, then 3rd passenger would take the aisle seat. As gracious as the 3rd passenger was, it sounds like she would have been fine with that, and everyone would have been a little less disturbed. But it has to be really obvious when you pre-board, and there’s an empty window seat, that you’re going to have to move for another person. (I do agree with another poster that it would have been nice if the airline caught that – but I’m assuming most people don’t act like jerks about it, so maybe it’s just not usually an issue?)

    • Lolo October 9, 2018, 10:57 am

      I’m guessing that daughter wanted the aisle seat for herself and didn’t think of her mother or the logistics of someone needing to get past mom to get to the window seat. daughter should have sucked it up and taken the window or middle seat for herself.

  • Lauren October 8, 2018, 10:55 am

    I blame 99% of these situations on the flight crew. It’s their job to defuse these situations.

    I used to try to be an adult and work these things out myself, but now, at the first sign of any arguments, I just flag down a crew member. Why? Because I have no idea how crazy people are, and I no longer put myself in the position of being their target.

    One example of why I avoid dealing with the general public: I had a woman give me trouble about accessing my seat once. She had bags of junk on my seat and when I asked her to remove them, she acted all incredulous. At first, I couldn’t believe someone would do something so crazy, so I assumed she was just not understanding what I was asking, so I kind of over-explained that it was my seat and that I would like to sit in it. I did this several times thinking that the woman had a learning disability or maybe did not understand English. It turns out she was just a jerk, and I was wasting my breath. She was just selfishly angling to get an empty seat next to her.

    So this eventually dawned on me (I am always slow on the uptake in these situations…I mean who acts so stupidly, right?) and I grabbed the stewardess.

    The stewardess, by the way, heard us discussing this huge dilemma (let’s see, I need to get to my seat, and your stuff is on it….how do you think we should handle this, crabby old woman?) and walked by us a couple of times before I requested that she step in. That will NEVER happen to me again. Any signs of discord, I call in the professionals right away (don’t even think about ignoring this, crew people!) and let them deal with it while I read my book on the sidelines. This helps a lot later, because if you anger these nutty people, they will invariably start with their crazy passive aggressive kicking and elbowing throughout the flight to make sure you know who’s boss. (I’m talking about you, angry saleslady on the Miami flight. Don’t get mad at me because I spent a week at the beach while you drove around in the 100 degree heat making sales calls!)

    • staceyizme October 9, 2018, 3:30 pm

      I agree that customers should give ONE good try at resolution. Anything beyond that is up to the “management”, whose duty it is to provide for equal access to services and reasonably pleasant and safe conditions for dining, flying, movie watching or at the theater.

    • Ted October 10, 2018, 9:25 am

      I agree, Lauren..AND it lets you off of the hook from any liability if an angry passenger tries to accuse you of something. Luckily, knock on wood, I haven’t had any incidents, save for a few grumpy seatmates here and there.

  • JD October 8, 2018, 11:09 am

    I haven’t flown with a person in a wheelchair or while in one myself, so I don’t know how it works at an airport, but it is curious that there was only one wheelchair waiting and two people needing one. Had I been Daughter, it seems like I would have asked if there would have been one available at the other end, automatically. My husband was temporarily in a wheelchair after a knee injury, and everywhere we went, my thoughts were on how to get him from point A to point B and back again.
    How rude was Daughter to try to deny a woman her seat simply because Mom — who stood up to deplane — would have to get up to let the window-seat passenger by? What did she expect the window-seat passenger to do — ride on a wing?

    • crella October 10, 2018, 5:32 am

      I used to book my mother on Delta. On their site at least, you have to check the wheelchair box on both flights. I am not sure why they have it set up like that, but you have to do it twice (or at least I did the last time I booked).

  • Catherine St. Clair October 8, 2018, 11:14 am

    I think we now know what happens to those passengers who were allowed to run and to scream in planes when they were children. When they grow up, and Mom grows old, they turn into this mom and daughter. Mom did not say, “Now, dear, let the nice lady into her seat. If either of us had wanted a window seat, we should have reserved one. We will have to move, make sure our belongings are out of her way, and allow her to sit down.” Daughter continues to do as she pleases with no thought to anyone else and Mom never corrects her little pumpkin.

    • KayCee October 15, 2018, 4:45 pm

      Yup, 100% this.

      I can’t imagine treating another passenger this way, but even if I tried to do so, my mother would have none of it.

  • Liz October 8, 2018, 11:59 am

    I could be totally speculating here, but GIVEN that the daughter seemed to be quite entitled, I wonder if she simply assumed that since they needed one for her mom to board, that one would be waiting for her when they landed. Or, she simply forgot, and rather than admit to her error, and ask NICELY if another could be brought for them, decided to inconvenience the person who the chair was actually for.

    Again, totally going out on a limb, but my experience with people who act like that, is they simply don’t care about anyone but themselves. No matter how much it may inconvenience someone else.

  • Mom'sAlwaysRight! October 8, 2018, 12:10 pm

    I think part of the blame lies with the airline’s boarding policies. What’s the point of pre-boarding passengers with special needs if they’re going to have to get up to let later-boarding passengers in? I experienced this myself when I had to climb over a cancer patient and her husband to get to my window seat. They were very kind but I still felt bad making them move to let me in. It would make a lot more sense if they would board the entire row early or wait and board the people with special needs last. It just doesn’t make sense to make us window people disturb the aisle person with limited mobility.
    Of course none of this excuses the rudeness of the woman in the OP.

    • Ergala October 9, 2018, 7:34 am

      When I was flying my sister down to Texas for her first cancer treatment at Anderson she had a broken back and she could barely walk. We flew on Spirit (HUGE mistake) but had their two huge oversized seats in the front so there was a ton more room. But there was no way she could have stood up to let someone pass if she had to. The airline called for preboarding and that was her. She was in a wheelchair. I kid you not they called for preboarding and as I am pushing her up the ramp to the podium they began boarding regular passengers. They didn’t even wait more than 2 minutes before calling for sections to board. So here we are at the podium and my sister in a wheelchair barely able to handle sitting in it after practically running to the gate due to the gate’s parking lot being closed. We had to park half way across Logan airport to get to that gate and there were no wheelchairs where we pulled in and I was pulling her two huge suitcases while strapping my duffel bag to my back and trying to hold her up. We made it. Not pleasant at all.

    • Kimpossible October 9, 2018, 8:03 am

      My husband uses a wheelchair 90% of the time. The early boarding gives him an opportunity to show the flight crew how to fold up and store his chair. It is much easier for him to get to his seat without other people jostling him around. If he gets bumped, he is going to fall.
      It has been our experience that flight crews will be accommodating when possible. DH will usually be given a seat on the first row of economy class. The rest of us might not be sitting with him, but it is much easier to maneuver him there. The first row gives others more room to get around him without having to have him stand up. The other side of being able to board first is that DH is almost always the last person to leave the plane for the exact same reasons.
      My guess is that the woman and her mother didn’t book the flight as a handicapped passenger. They probably just hailed a wheelchair on the way to the terminal. That’s why there wouldn’t have been a chair waiting for her when she got off of the flight. It makes it so much easier for everyone involved to let the airport know that you have to have some special (reasonable) accommodations.

  • Livvy17 October 8, 2018, 1:25 pm

    Maybe I’m just cynical, but who knows if the mom really had any issues at all, or if the daughter just wanted to get special treatment. Someone this rude, who obviously didn’t know how to plan ahead strikes me as someone who would put on a big, fake, show just to try to get seated early/get special treatment. Ridiculous.

    • staceyizme October 8, 2018, 5:58 pm

      I hate to say it, but you may have hit the nail on the head! Kind of like those who come to legal proceedings in a wheelchair or wearing a neck brace when none are needed. But I pity someone whose life is so shallow that she (or he) would stoop to such an elaborate charade. Unfortunately, stranger things have happened.

    • lakey October 8, 2018, 11:13 pm

      That’s possible. Their arguing about letting another passenger get to her seat makes you wonder about them. However, airports are so large and require so much walking that it is also possible that the mother can stand and walk a very limited amount, but not be able to handle the kind of walking needed in an airport. This occurs to me because my elderly parents were able to do a small amount of walking in their own home, but couldn’t handle anything more than that.

      • Liz October 9, 2018, 11:30 am

        Agreed. This happened to me in Heathrow; while I’m capable of walking distances and quickly, the sign to my gate said 25 minutes. I was like WHAT? no way. But yes, it did take me almost that long to walk to my VERY last gate. i was amazed. not at the fact I had to walk far, i figured that, but that they had signs along the way telling you how many more minutes it was until you reached it!

    • AvalonAngel October 13, 2018, 7:35 pm

      Comedian Drew Lynch has a video on his YouTube channel about a woman he was on a flight with who was faking all sorts of issues to get special accommodations. She refused to get rid of her water before takeoff, claiming to have a tumor in her throat that must be kept moist at all times. She ordered flight crew around, and even hit someone with her luggage without apology. But it’s the end of the video that is truly astonishing. If you have a few minutes, give it a look.

  • op October 8, 2018, 1:52 pm

    I have never ordered a wheelchair before, so I had wondered how they had one at beginning and not at end as well. I came up with two possible reasons. Reason 1 was that we bordered the plane in a very small airport, where attendants and wheelchairs are always just around, so it may have been offered to her mom, versus ordered. Reason 2 is that she actually didn’t stay in the wheelchair long. She was wheeled off the ramp, and then when we hit the waiting area there was one of those golf carts waiting, and she moved from wheelchair to that. I was no longer close enough to hear, only see, so I don’t know if it was coincidence it was there or if they had actually ordered only that, thinking/knowing mom could walk off the plane but not traverse the airport, which was much much larger then the airport where we started at

  • Isabelle Murray October 8, 2018, 2:09 pm

    When I’ve flown and people were needing a wheelchair, they were usually the first ones on board and the last ones to deplane. The wheelchair at the destination seemed to always take some time before getting there.

    • AvalonAngel October 13, 2018, 7:37 pm

      I use a wheelchair, and pretty much everywhere I go I strive to arrive early, and leave last. It is the best way to avoid injury or address problems.

  • Bea October 8, 2018, 3:40 pm

    Why didn’t she just take the window seat, I can’t wrap my mind around it. I hate being climbed over too, that’s why I always take the window seat. I have lived a charmed life where I never have had to use a restroom on a flight, so I happily press myself up against the window and sleep off the trip. It’s so much easier than starting a fight with the person who’s going to be in the same row for the next HoweverManyHours. Jeez!

    I wish the flight crew had done their jobs and intervened, it’s uncomfortable that the woman had to deal with this other woman trying to refuse her access to the seat she was assigned. If you’re holding up the line for as long as this conversation seemed to have gone on, a flight attendant should be asking what was wrong and how they could help.

    Also your “stuff” is supposed to be packed away for departure, so if they had things where the other person could step on it…that’s on them. I’m not watching my step in an already crammed airplane seat aisle.

  • Bungeesmom October 8, 2018, 4:06 pm

    I used to work for major airline, my family still does. The majority of wheelchair assistant service are contracted by the airport or airline. When you call reservations, you can request this service on BOTH ends of your flight. Some airports even have large passenger golf cart things to carry wheelchair fliers, their companions and luggage to other gates/terminals within the airport.
    If you need assistance while at the airport, any customer service representative or gate agent can help you get the assistance you require.


    • JAN October 9, 2018, 12:46 pm

      Flying United at O’Hare I was always told that we had to wait until we were checking in and then request one at that time.

  • Skaramouche October 9, 2018, 7:47 pm

    And so, we enter the age of entitlement. I almost sorely miss the age of discrimination that preceded it 😛 😛 :P. These days, everyone must be accommodated for everything, nay, it’s their RIGHT to be accommodated for their SPECIAL need, often at cost to others.

    Why and how should we or would we expect the airline to pre-mitigate a situation like this? Cancel pre-boarding altogether? Force people with disabilities to sit in the window seat? Check exactly what the disability is and pre-board the whole row on a case by case basis (do you know how much time this would take)? Does this apply to families with children who have settled in their seats? What if I have a bad back but don’t need a wheelchair? Does my row get pre-boarded too so I don’t have to move and aggravate my back later? It’s NOT the airline’s responsibility to babysit passengers. Pre-boarding is either a privilege (that you’ve paid for) or a courtesy to help people in special circumstances avoid the stress of boarding with the rest of the crowd. It’s not a guarantee of comfort. Why the HECK wouldn’t this woman think ahead and a) book the two inside seats or b) expect to be moved? It’s no one else’s problem that the mother has a disability. While kindness dictates that I try to make life easier for my fellow (wo)man, it’s not an obligation. It’s people like these that give everyone with disabilities a bad name. “Ah, she has a disability…she must be entitled.” At what point will we stop shifting responsibility for sorting out our own problems in life onto others?

  • Miss-E October 10, 2018, 7:57 am

    This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Had the daughter never been on a plane before? Does she not know how these things work? It’s not a bus, it’s not like the woman could have stood for the whole ride or gone and sat in an empty seat. You sit where you are assigned. This is just so bizarre!!!