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Skip the Drama- 22 Viable Responses to Being Asked to Change Seats on an Airplane

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Embarking on a journey through the skies is an adventure that intricately combines both excitement and weariness, its character significantly shaped by the ultimate destination. Amidst the bustling rituals of boarding and finding your assigned seat, have you ever faced an unexpected proposition—one that involves swapping seats with a fellow traveler?

An online forum user posed a question seeking advice on responding when asked to switch seats while flying. And the community shared insights on how to approach such situations, especially when they get heated. 

1. A Friendly Request

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How you say things leaves a mark on people’s minds and hearts. A user said that if someone asks nicely, “Excuse me, my wife and I had to get separate seats. Would you mind switching?” He’d switch seats without a problem.

2. A Rude Demand

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However, if a person came up and shouted, “Hey, I want that seat! Move!” Nobody is going to accommodate such people. It depends on how they ask.

3. Saying No Unless It is a Better Seat

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It’s reasonable to consider your preferences when deciding whether to switch seats on an airplane. If the offered seat is better than your current one, it can be a win-win situation.

4. No Middle Seats Please

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Someone wrote, “If I switch from an aisle or window seat to a middle seat, I may decline. Unless there is some actual reason. People can manage to be separate on a flight.”

5. No Poetry, No Moving

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A comment said, “I will only switch seats if they hear me read one of my poems.” That’s interesting. 

6. Sorry, I am Superstitious

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Superstitions are personal beliefs that vary from person to person. While it may seem unconventional to some, respecting personal choices is essential. A person wrote, “No. I stay in my assigned seat. I’m almost superstitious about it.”

7. I Paid for This Seat

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If you paid for a specific seat to be closer to the front, in the aisle or window, or to sit near your party- of course, you don’t want to switch. This is very reasonable grounds for saying heck no.

8. Have Fun With Babysitting

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Moms know how challenging travel can be with their kids. A mom said that if someone wants to change seats with her, they have to sit next to her child on the plane, and she will relax in the back. But, within 10 minutes, they’ll offer to switch back with the mom because these little munchkins got zero chills. So relatable!

9. You Can Sit with My Child

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Sometimes, families are booked apart for last-minute flight changes, glitches, lack of choices, budget, etc. Thus, a parent might ask to trade to get closer to their child. If someone refuses, they may be stuck next to a child that wants their mommy.

10. Pay for a Seat Swap

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Someone cheekily mentioned that they would charge a fee if someone wanted to exchange seats with them, saying, “That’ll be $50 bucks. Take it or leave it.”

“Especially if that was the upgrade cost for the seat.” Another added. 

11. I am Not Responsible for Your Poor Planning

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While it may sound rude to some, many users believe reserving seats during ticket purchases allows for planned family seating. Someone quoted Stewie from Family Guy, “Your poor planning does not constitute an emergency for me. You’ll see them at your destination.” Go sit down.”

12. Be Reasonable

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Poor planning or not, sometimes there isn’t much for choices when a family books. So be kind and thoughtful even if their request is annoying.

13. Never Ask a Tall Guy to Swap an Exit Row Seat

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A tall user shared his experience, “I, being 6’4, happily got a free exit row seat. However, I immediately refused when a guy asked if I would give it up. He returned to the girl he was talking to, and her neighbor gladly took the unexpected upgrade. (Who would even ask a tall person to give up the exit row seat).”

14. A Large Person in a Middle Seat

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Whether big-boned or overweight, asking a larger person to sit in the middle seat is just mean. Don’t do it unless they were in a middle seat to begin with.

15. Airplane Seats Don’t Care About Manners

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Someone wrote, “A woman asked my boyfriend to switch seats with her, and he said no, and she told him that’s no way to treat a woman. I was like, ma’am. I’m sitting right here, and the airplane seats see no gender.”

16. Life is Too Short to Be Rude

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A user said he is willing to accommodate seat requests, believing life is too short to fuss over such matters. Furthermore, he shared that two times he gladly gave up an aisle seat for a middle or window seat on long flights to help someone sit with their travel partner. Kindness goes a long way!

17. Take a Deep Breath

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Take a deep breath when you want to yell or get mad. Politely saying no, even if the other person is being rude, will keep the situation from becoming unnecessarily unheated.

18. Kindness Wears Thin When Abused

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A person shared their experience. “I always happily switched seats if the offered seat was nice, but one woman was so off-putting and demanded that she wanted me to give up an economy-plus seat for her middle back seat. I told her no, and she got upset.”

19. It Doesn’t Really Matter

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Sometimes we get so caught up in other people’s agendas that it’s easier just to be kind. Delayed flights, re-booking, glitches, last-minute purchases- there are so many legit reasons that people may have been separated.

20. Why Does It Matter?

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Someone writes, “So is there any reason you wouldn’t move besides you just not wanting to? If it’s the same seat or a better seat I don’t see a reason not to switch, assuming they’re polite.”

20. Carry On

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People are quick to get reactive at the audacity of someone asking to change flights. But there are many circumstances that could’ve landed them there asking- last minute flights, canceled flights, a family desperate for a vacation that can’t afford the extra seat, the airline that refuses to seat groups together when they easily could for an extra dime, etc.

21. Asking the Flight Attendant for Assistance

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Perhaps there is a better solution than a straight swap, and many times flight attendants are happy to help friends, families, and couples that have been separated when they can. They can often look up the seating arrangement for you and happily recommend re-shuffling everyone.

22. Give Me More Details

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It’s okay to consider your options and discuss it further before making a decision. For example, most people are happy to swap as long as they aren’t moving from an aisle or window seat to a middle seat (understandably). Having all the details will help all parties make an informed decision.


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