Few years back while I was travelling on an international flight, I was asked to switch seats. I find it extremely hard to sleep on flights and I also find it hard to yell what beverage I want from the window seat. So usually I book an aisle seat while travelling to avoid all such madness.
So that day, a few hours after the plane took off, I was just starting to settle down at my seat when the flight attendant came up to me and asked if I would be willing to switch seats with a lady who has a baby, as she needs an aisle seat. As much I wanted to say – no, it’s a 16hr long flight and I don’t want to be cramped up in the middle, I thought it would be impolite and totally selfish on my end, so I agreed to do swap seats.
To my dismay, my new seat was in the center sandwiched between two guys one of which was extremely fat (no offence). After an extremely tiring and uncomfortable journey I reached my destination.
A few years later when I travelled again (as usual on my aisle seat), the passenger next to me on the middle seat asked me if I can switch with his wife. He said they are going for her father’s funeral and is not feeling well and as a result not having food and it would be nice if they can both sit together. Well the story was very convincing but I dint want to spend another 16hrs again sandwiched between 2 strangers. So I politely replied back to him that I can switch seats if he manages to get me an aisle seat. As expected his wife was on middle seat and they couldn’t get me an aisle seat. So this time I somehow managed to remain on my seat.
If it was a few years back, I would have felt very guilty about doing that. I was too naive and sensitive back then and used to agree to everything. But over the years I understood that there is no point feeling guilty and it is okay to say no (Read my post about what happens when you say no). It is not my fault when others don’t get proper seats and most people unlike you are selfish and desire their own comfort not yours. I knew another family who let their kids run around the flight and disturb others while the parents slept off happily in their seats.
So if you have ever denied a person a favor while travelling, don’t feel too bad about it. First of all I don’t understand why people do that. Just because a person is travelling alone or if the person appears small and petite doesn’t mean that they don’t need proper seats. Secondly having kids or group tickets automatically doesn’t qualify you to swap seats with others. If you are travelling with kids make sure to book proper seats in advance and don’t be at the mercy of someone else to give up their seats to you. Nobody is under obligation to do so. Same applies to others travelling in groups who want to switch seats with others.
Although I must agree, that I wouldn’t mind switching seats if it was a shorter duration flight. But adjusting for longer flights is a big no no. For those who have been in a similar situation, I am sure you understand the pain. For folks who ask others to do such favor – just because others agree to you and help out, don’t think that they are happy with it. And most importantly don’t put others in such a situation which is difficult for them.
I totally understand when there are emergencies and some exceptional scenarios but other than that it is always a good idea to plan ahead before you travel and avoid causing trouble to those around you. Travel should be a good experience for everyone including the ones around you, so make sure that while you are trying to make it pleasant for you, you are not making it miserable for others.