Thursday, July 12, 2012

Airline Seat, If You Paid for it, Is It Yours?

As I prepare myself mentally for my trip to the states, I can't help but to dread the idea of sitting in those tiny crowded seats with much too intimate closeness with strangers.  On a recent trip I had to complain to the attendant because the man behind me not only shook my seat violently every time he got up or sat down, but he somehow managed to even touch my head in the process.  And this guy was in the uniform of an ultra-Orthodox Jew, who should have been making every effort not to touch me.  After complaining a few times in two languages, Hebrew and English, I finally called for help.  The solution was found was that we should change seats.  Since I ended up remaining in an aisle seat I agreed.

In another trip, although I had reserved an aisle seat I found myself sitting between two young men.  I asked the man in the aisle if he would change with me, since I'd be getting up frequently, but he refused, saying he didn't mind.  So, the three of us took our trips to the loo at the same time, like in nursery school.

Those aisle seats had cost the same as middle ones then.  Now the airlines are milking more money out of the desperate passengers making seat switches much more complicated.

Joel Sharkey has written in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune about pressure being put on people who paid extra to give up their seats to those who paid less.  I think it's totally outrageous, and wen the flight attendants join in on the pressure it's worse.  Those who are put in that position should do two things:
  1. If they are willing to switch, then they should charge the other person double what it cost them.  If having the better seat cost $20- then someone who wants it should pay $40 in cash to compensate.  It's not like the one in the aisle seat or with more legroom won that better seat with the roll of the dice. 
  2. Make it clear to the attendant that you paid for your seat and  you expect the airline to respect and honor that purchase. Mark down the name of the employee who is harassing you to give up your expensive seat without compensation and report to the company after the flight.
People should know that sometimes you have to give up a good seat to sit together.  I had that when flying to Israel with my elderly father.  He was given a seat in the front with more legroom, but I was assigned a seat a few rows behind.  He needed me more than the legroom, so we had the staff change his seat.

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