Protocol: The Airplane Seat-Switch Dilemma featuring @HeatherPoole

I love flying. I love every single part of it.

But if there’s one thing that annoys me most when flying, it’s when someone asks me to switch seats. I’m not trying to be harsh, but I pick my seats with purpose.

That’s why I’m usually more than reluctant to switch seats. I want to try to be understanding, but I really don’t want to switch seats with people, unless their seat is better than the one I have, which is unlikely. While I usually don’t want to switch seats, everyone has to make concessions.

Heather Poole, a flight attendant at a major United States airline, says that it usually isn’t the passenger’s fault, and the biggest dilemma usually involves family travel. “It’s a big problem lately because airlines block half the seats for frequent fliers and/or to charge extra for certain seats. This is why it doesn’t matter when families book, because unless they are with a frequent flier with high status, they don’t have a shot sitting together.”

Here’s some general guidelines to the right way to handle seat-switch situations:

  • Make a concession every once in a while: If a family is very distressed about sitting together, offer to give up your seat. Not only will this give you brownie points with the grateful parents, but you’ll feel good about yourself for the rest of the day. If you’re sitting in an exit row seat, give it up for people with long legs or something of the sort – they might actually need an exit row seat.
  • If you need to say no, do it politely. If you really don’t want to give up your seat, then just don’t offer. If someone asks you, politely say that you’d like to remain sitting where you are. It doesn’t have to be loud or obnoxious, but just say it.

Do you have tips for switching seats (or refusing to)? Leave them in the comments!