Should a solo flight traveler move seats to accommodate families who want to sit together?
A few solo travelers were faced with this scenario recently and took to social media to share how – and why – they had not obliged with the request.
A solo flight passenger named Audrey Peters shared a video of her experience on TikTok, where the video was accompanied by the text: “When a family asks me to switch seats on the plane so they can sit together.”
In the video, Peters lip synced to an audio clip while sipping champagne: “Girl, f*** them kids and f*** you too.”
Peters further captioned the video: ”No, I’m not switching for a middle seat. Book your flights earlier, babes.”
The video, which now has 2.8 million views, garnered plenty of different reactions via comments.
Some were in defense of families, saying that airlines sometimes do not make it easy for families to book seats together, so it is not always because of poor planning on the families’ part.
Some said they would oblige, but only if the seat offered was equal to or better than the seat they had booked.
Others, even those who say that they are parents themselves, agreed with Peters on her decision to stand her ground (or seat).
Tammy Nelson, who recently flew solo, shared her situation on social media, asking, “What would you do?”
Nelson said that when she got to her pre-booked window seat, a mother of two was already occupying it. When Nelson told the mother that was her seat, the mother said she thought they could switch seats because her two children were seated next to Nelson’s window seat.
Nelson then told the mother she’s happy to swap as long as she would still get a window seat. The mother offered Nelson a middle seat.
Nelson filmed the video clip from a seat by the window, revealing that she had not swapped with the mother.
Nelson’s video was flooded with supportive comments, even from flight attendants who said that they often see mothers asking to swap seats even with older children.
Another solo flight traveler, a social media content creator who provides solo travel tips, uploaded a video entitled: “When someone asks can I switch seats with them so they can sit next to their child or spouse.”
She then mimics ignoring the question and pretending to sleep. “Should have paid for them (sic) seats if it was that important. I’m not going to 28D,” she wrote.
The rewards of swapping
However, a couple of other solo travelers showed the rewards of giving up seats so families can sit together.
A solo flight traveler named Emma shared how she ended up in first class after agreeing to the request.
“Swapped seats with a guy so he could sit next to his family. Got to my next seat, and a guy wanted to sit with his wife. I ended up in first class,” Emma said, likening the experience to trading a paperclip for a house.
Another traveler uploaded a video to TikTok stating that one of the perks of traveling solo is “you get a free upgraded seat because families all want to sit together”.
What is the right thing to do?
While the two examples of ‘swapping wins’ had a happy ending, it isn’t always the case. So what should a solo flight passenger do when faced with these situations?
“As much as possible, passengers should be choosing their seats ahead of time for this exact reason,” travel expert Nicole Jackson from Fora Travel told People.
“I don’t think that you can board a plane with the expectation of someone leaving their seat for you,” Jackson said.
Jackson also said that it is not the displaced passenger’s responsibility to swap seats, and that it is up to the airline and flight attendants to provide a solution if someone declined to switch.
It seems that there is one simple rule. It is fine to ask, and it is also fine to say no.