A woman has been praised for refusing to swap seats with a child on a plane during an eight-hour flight.
In a recent post shared to the popular “Am I The A**hole?” Reddit forum, the plane passenger - who goes by Reddit username u/kitsune_chan29 - asked if she was in the wrong for not making the seat change. She started off by explaining that when she initially booked her flight home from an African country, she chose the aisle seat, so she “could get up without bothering others” and get a “special meal due to health requirements”.
However, according to the traveller, a family, who she said didn’t “speak much English” had asked if she could switch seats with one of their three children, so they could be together. She explained how the family was separated on the plane, before describing why she chose not to make the seat change.
“The father of the family wasn’t sitting anywhere near the mother and kids, so it looked to me like they had left their seats for a random assignment,” she wrote. “I initially said yes, thinking it was just a move across the aisle, but then realised they wanted me to switch to sit in a middle seat and I said no.”
She noted that when another different passenger got up and told her that he had “a seat in the back” that she could move to, she still declined that offer. However, according to the Reddit poster, the passenger went on to criticise her for not taking the seat he offered.
“I said that I had booked my seat and ordered a dietary meal, and there was no way I was moving to a middle seat,” she continued. “He then starts loudly criticising me and saying he hopes I understand that I’m splitting a family up. This eventually attracts attention from the crew because it’s holding up boarding.”
The women added that the family ultimately got “a passenger on the other end of the row to switch and sit somewhere else, so their kids could sit together”. However, she said that the passenger - who’d initially encouraged her to make the switch - then went up to the family, and continued to criticise her to them.
“[He goes up to them and says:] ‘Do you understand what happened? She thought her seat was too special so she wouldn’t let you sit together,’” the woman recalled. “I told the guy to mind his own business and he responded that he wasn’t talking to me. I was exhausted and sleep deprived by this point and told him to stop talking about me and just can it.”
The Reddit user concluded her post by expressing that she didn’t think she was “in the wrong” in the situation, before criticising the passenger who’d initially scrutinised her keeping her seat.
“I organised myself beforehand and booked my seat, and felt it was quite unfair to have a random guy criticising me to half the cabin for not wanting to swap to a middle seat for an 8 hour flight,” she wrote.
The post has amassed more than 5,900 upvotes. In the comments, people have praised the passenger for not switching sweats, while others claimed that if the family was adamant about being together on the flight, they should have booked seats next to each other beforehand.
“If the family wanted to be together they could have paid to do so,” one wrote, while another added: “You booked the specific seat you wanted, you don’t owe the family anything for not being more prepared. And that other passenger’s an a**hole for reacting like that.”
A third claimed: “I’m tired of entitled people thinking someone should sacrifice for them. If they wanted to be seated together, they should’ve booked seats together. Not your problem and good on you for standing your ground and not letting them bully you.”
The Independent has contacted u/kitsune_chan29 for comment.
This isn’t the first time that a conversation has been sparked about seating swapping on planes. Last month, another woman was also praised for her refusal to switch her first-class seat on a plane with a child.
In a video shared to TikTok Dr Sabra, @lifewithdrsabra, documented herself seated in the first-class section of a plane, as she explained her experience on the flight. “POV: Flight agent asks me if I want to give up my 1A seat so a child sits with their family.” The smile on her face indicated she was pleased with her decision to stick with the ticket she originally paid for.
“That’s a no from me dawg, would you have given up your seat? Also they ended up finding a solution so no, I am not a terrible human being. Also the child was like 13,” she wrote in the caption of the video.
Many viewers in the comments agreed that there was no need for her to switch, especially because of the position of her seat.
Amid the ongoing debate about travelling etiquette, national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman told The Independent that there is only one acceptable scenario where a traveller may ask a fellow passenger to switch seats on a plane or train. She specified that when a parent or guardian found “there is no possible way that they could have been seated next to their young child - after trying to get those seats through pre-planning - then it “of course it’s understandable” to ask a fellow passenger to swap.
However, Gottsman noted that, even in a case involving a young child, “it’s always best to ask a ticket agent or someone from the travel company if there is a possibility of changing or switching seats before you board the plane or train,” as “asking a fellow passenger puts the person you are asking in an awkward position” and relies on their “goodwill”.