Mom Says Fellow Plane Passenger Flipped Out When She and Her Baby Were Offered a Seat with More Space

PEOPLE asked a travel expert to weigh in on the divisive incident after the mother wrote on Reddit that the other flyer told her she should be "ashamed" for taking the seat

<p>Getty Images</p> A stock photo of a baby sleeping in a mother

Getty Images

A stock photo of a baby sleeping in a mother's lap on an airplane
  • A mother claims that after a flight attendant offered her and her 19-month-old son a chance to move to a row with two empty seats, a passenger in the new row became angry

  • In a post on Reddit, the mother says the other flyer complained that she wanted to sleep on the flight and having a baby in the row would be a "nightmare"

  • PEOPLE consulted a travel expert, who weighed in on who was in the right in this situation that divided readers

An airplane passenger claims a flight attendant’s generous gesture toward her and her 19-month-old son drew the ire of a fellow flyer.

In a post from May 19 on the r/AmItheAssh--- (AITA) subreddit, the mom wrote that she was about to embark on a 3-hour flight with her son in her lap in a full row, when she was offered the chance to move up a few rows, to one where there were two adjacent empty seats.

She said the flight attendant told her that the unnamed airline tries “to accommodate people with young infants,” and even though both were standard seats, she’d have more space in the new spot.

“I was delighted and accepted right away,” she wrote.

However, she continued, the one passenger who had been seated alone in the new row didn’t appreciate their arrival “at all.”

“She started complaining to the flight attendant that she was planning to sleep on the flight, and that it would be impossible now,” the mom wrote. “That she specifically chose this seat while checking in online because the row was empty and it's gonna be a nightmare now.”

According to the mom’s account, the flight attendant’s explanation of the parent-friendly policy was met with further anger from her new neighbor.

“The woman then told me that I should be ashamed to impose all this noise on people that are just trying to enjoy their flight,” she added. “Especially since it wasn't even my seat and I didn't even pay for it.”

The original poster (OP) claimed her son ”ended up crying only once,” and concluded that despite receiving “some stinky eye and some other rude comments,” she didn’t regret switching seats, since the extra room made the flight more comfortable.

<p>Getty Images</p> Stock photo of a flight attendant, mom and baby

Getty Images

Stock photo of a flight attendant, mom and baby

In an edit to the post, she noted that her son was on her lap for the entire flight, and the purpose of the extra seat was simply “to feel less crowded and not bump elbows.” While she said her bag was under the seat during takeoff and landing, she kept it on the floor of the row for the rest of the flight for easy access.

While one Reddit user said it was “inconsiderate” to keep a large bag on the floor, most commenters sided with the OP, arguing that since the solo passenger didn’t pay for the whole row, she shouldn’t have expected the other two seats to remain empty.

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“You paid for a seat, the airline accommodated you and explained to the other passenger,” one Reddit user wrote to the OP. “The other passenger paid for her seat only, not the entire row. Sounds like other passenger was an unpleasant person, which isn't your fault. If another mother with a young child did pay for the seats near her, I'd almost guarantee she would have complained still.”

“You were asked if you would like to move by THE CREW so it’s perfectly fine,” wrote another Reddit user, who identified themselves as an ex flight attendant. “The other woman was b----ing because she thought she was going to get 3 seats and could lie down on all of them. Ironically, she was complaining about not getting 2 seats she didn’t pay for. She’s the AH.”

PEOPLE asked travel expert, writer and advisor Nicole Campoy Jackson of Fora Travel to weigh in on the divisive incident.

<p>Getty Images</p> A stock photo of a baby sitting on a plane

Getty Images

A stock photo of a baby sitting on a plane

Jackson says the OP was “absolutely” in the right to accept the new seat.

“That mother was sitting in the seat she had been assigned and was approached by a flight attendant who was simply taking good care of their passenger,” she says. “If the mom had been up in arms about having no extra space or expecting unreasonably more than what she'd paid for, I can understand passengers around her having an issue. But in this case, she sat in her seat and was offered a better one by someone who works for the airline. Zero issues here.”

Jackson says she understands “not loving the idea of sitting next to a baby” as well as “the momentary mix of thrill and relief you feel when your row is empty after the doors have closed and boarding is done.”

Related: Plane Passenger Who Claims Their Backpack Was ‘Not Allowed’ to Be Placed in the Overhead Bin Sparks Debate: ‘My Nightmare’

However, she says unless the other passenger had paid for all the seats in her row to ensure they’d stay empty, “She had no right to expect that space.”

“It may have been a bummer, but in my opinion...that's all it was,” Jackson adds. “Certainly not cause for any kind of scene or stress. If she needed the rest and was particularly concerned about it, she should have simply asked the flight attendant for help in switching to another seat in another row or part of the cabin.”

Jackson believes the mother “did the right thing by staying,” especially since it wasn’t even an upgrade in seat type.

“She shouldn't have personally had to field any complaints about that for a short haul, three-hour flight and with a baby who was by and large quiet. Had either of them been particularly invasive of the space or loud, sure, I can understand this being an issue. But she states that her bag fit under the seat and that the open seat remained open. It's just more comfortable than sharing an armrest when you have a baby in your lap. “

<p>Getty Images</p> A stock photo of a woman traveling with a child on an airplane

Getty Images

A stock photo of a woman traveling with a child on an airplane

Related: Plane Passenger Says Her Boyfriend Was Scolded for Helping an ‘Older Lady’ Put Her Bag in the Overhead Bin — Here’s Why

As for the other passenger’s argument that she purposely booked an empty row hoping for a quiet flight, Jackson says, “We all purposefully book as empty a row as possible when traveling in economy.”

“It's the economy holy grail and we check-in exactly 24 hours ahead to choose the seats that will maybe psych out our fellow passengers," Jackson continues, explaining that her own strategy is to look for rows where the window seat is taken and select the aisle, hoping that no one chooses the middle seat.

"But you cannot expect that row to stay empty nor should you be accommodated when the airline fills those seats with fellow paying passengers,“ she adds.

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Ultimately, Jackson says, “We are all — parents, non-parents, frequent travelers, infrequent travelers — choosing to share a small and unnatural space with one another in order to get from A to B. None of us has any idea what the other is there for (work, vacation, a family emergency); none of us has any idea what state the other is in (excited, stressed, exhausted).”

She adds, “Kindness and understanding have to be paramount for this to run smoothly.” 

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