Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Airline Etiquette Lesson #1

With the advent of the on-line check in option provided by most airlines, passengers are afforded certain privileges and rights regarding their seat choices. As many of you are probably aware, Continental allows passengers to check in for their flight at least 24 hours in advance. At such time of check in, you are allowed to choose your seat from any of the available empty seats on the plane. So this means that if you are forced to choose a middle seat when you purchase your ticket, you have a slim chance of getting one of the coveted aisle or window seats at the time of check in. Of course, there are no guarantees of this, but there is a chance.

I always choose an aisle seat first... then a window seat... then (and only when it is absolutely unavoidable) will I choose a middle seat. I would rather sit in the bathroom than in a middle seat - but that is just weird, so I never do that.

Last week, I boarded my plane and took up residence in my 7th row aisle seat. This is a premium coach seat because it is at the front of the plane AND on the aisle. It really is a rare occasion that I get such luxury in coach.

Well, a kind lady and her husband boarded the plane some time after I had settled in to my seat. The wife had the middle seat next to me, and her husband purchased the middle seat in front of her. Surely they did this because there were not other seats available. My heart goes out to them... really. But the wife (not the husband, mind you) asks me if I would mind switching seats with her husband. Take a minute to let that request set in in light of all I have stated above.

What could I possibly do? You can't say no to such a request. But everything in me wanted to explain to them the process and the fact that I am 6'2"... and I do not have a swimmer's build. Middle seats are miserable for a guy like me. But I made the switch.

It is one thing to ask someone to move from one aisle seat to another... but to cross the line from aisle to middle is just too much. That is my airline etiquette lesson for you all.

Oh... and have a happy Mardi Gras and Super Tuesday.



Alyssa said...

I whole-heartedly agree with your conclusion. I always go for the aisle seat first. I really don't want anything else, though the window seat is definitely preferable to the middle seat. My first choice is as you said, the first row in coach...or an exit row!

Stacy said...

you are quite the southern gentleman for making such a trade. and happy mardi gras to you too! just shows where our priorities are as we postponed our state primaries due to said holiday :)

David Hilburn said...

I always use the opportunity of the online check-in to snag the exit row seats if they are available. They go quickly though. Middle seats suck, but middle seat in an exit row sucks less than regular coach. And the second exit row is preferable to the first (when two are together) because it reclines, whereas the first exit row (when two are together) often does not recline.

thePiks said...

My little thought on Airline etiquette:
I rarely can go 1.5 hours without flatulating at least a little bit. So it’s great when flying (that’s the only good thing, mind you) with little ones. Just pass the gas and if someone looks a little upset because of the fumes, just give a “Apologetic Smile” and look at your progeny.

This not only goes for air travel, but any other occasion where there are crowds and little kids (i.e., weddings, funerals, other church events, restaurants, get-togethers, parades, McDonald's playgrounds, etc.).

Todd Richards said...

Brian... we need to make a point to hang out more. It is comments like this that make me realize how hilarious you are - even if you are being serious.

The Traveler said...

The Travel Size One told me about this post and I couldn't believe it. Speaking as someone who travels for a living... YOU NEVER DO THIS! You NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER... EVER, ask someone to give up a seat that is higher quality for one that is lower. People who do this rank right up there with people who put their briefcases in the overhead bins (not including bulk-head). They should be immediately taken off the plane and beaten with reeds. I will actually pull someone's briefcase down and tell them to stick it under their seat if I am running late and need to put my bag up top (followed shortly with a "Thanks for following directions"). You ask "What could I possibly do?" I'd tell her to enjoy the rest of her life with her husband because she will not be spending the next 4 hours with him.