Seniors Have Issues with Seats

October 20, 2010

in Senior Stories

Not necessarily a Flight From Hell, but it was a little frustrating, and one you just have to shake your head at.

I was on American Airlines Flight 5 from DFW to HNL on Septmber 2nd, 2010. In the boarding area there were several children playing and laughing, and immediately my first thought was please let these children be well-behaved for this 8 eight hour flight… please. And they were.

Unbeknownst to me, the irritation would come not from the children, but from the group of senior citizens traveling together on this same flight.

I board, take my seat, and put my small backpack under the seat in front of me, and so does my partner. We were sitting in Group 2, and it seemed like we were waiting quite a while for the other passengers to board. Then we saw why… there was a group of 25-30 senior citizens. Each was very confused about where to sit, and how the seats were numbered. They were examining their tickets, and then the seat numbers, etc.

Finally the two older ladies who were to sit in the row in front of us came down the aisle. One was barking orders to a younger gentleman, saying here is my seat, put my bag up there. And this younger man nicely tugged and lugged and stuffed her huge bag into the overhead compartment. Then he had to make his way back toward the front of the plane. Then a few minutes later here he comes again down the aisle with a huge bag for the other older lady. One of the older ladies said, “I don’t know how we would have managed without your help. Thank you.” As the man began to make his way back to the front of the plane to his seat, other older folks started to ask him to help them with their bags. He probably helped at least 5 other people put their bags in the bins. (We found out later he was a complete stranger and not with the group.)

So, issue number 1: Folks if you cannot wheel your bag on the plane, let alone lift it into the overhead bin, don’t bring it! It is rude to rely on the kindness of strangers and expect them to hurt their backs tugging the luggage that you are too cheap to check!

So we take our seats thinking the ordeal is over, and a rather attractive 20 year old comes down the aisle. She says to one of the senior citizens in front of us, “I believe you have my seat.” The older women were a bit flabbergasted and fumbled for their papers. It was determined that yes, one of them was in the incorrect seat. The 20-something very politely said, “Are you both travelling together?” And, the response was “Yes.” So the 20-something volunteered to take the older lady’s seat, which the older lady said was on the other side of the plane. The 20-something crossed over the people in the middle to the other side of the plane and sat down (2-3-2 configuration).

A few minutes later another younger lady came down the far aisle and said to the “transplanted” 20-something, you are in my seat! The 20-something tried to explain to the person that she was sorry, and pointed to the senior in front of us, saying she switched with her. Seeing the commotion the senior started laughing, saying, “Oh my, did I cause this confusion, I am sorry.” So the 20-something got up and gave up her seat, asking the senior where her seat was, to which the senior pointed one row up.

Well guess what – a few minutes later a man came down the aisle and told the “twice transplanted” 20-something that she was in his seat. The 20-something had the patience of Job. She tried to explain the reason, etc.  By this time the flight was about ready to depart and a flight attendant came back to see what the trouble was. The senior again started laughing. She said, “Oh, I caused all kinds of problems by sitting in the wrong seat.” The flight attendant asked the man if he would mind sitting in the incorrect seat, and because it was a middle/aisle seat, he was fine with it.

Issue number 2: The senior continued to laugh saying she caused all kinds of problems by sitting in the wrong seat, but never offered to rectify the situation by moving herself… how rude! Also, I thought it was some kind of rule that you had to sit in your assigned seat? What if the plane was to go down, and they were to try to identify people? Oh well.

So the flight takes off, we read some, and then after a while we begin to watch the in-flight movie, “Letters to Juliet.” About this time, all of the seniors must be on the same schedule because they all get up and head to the bathroom. OK no problem, we understand. But, it doesn’t stop there… some actually walked up and down the aisles of the planes, I guess to stretch their legs. We just wanted to scream, “Sit down; take your seat!” But, trying to understand, and knowing my Mom is a senior too, I try to be patient.

One senior stops in front of the people in front of us and begins to “chat” – chat, chat, chat – all the time blocking our view of the TV monitor. We are sitting there with wires in our ears staring directly at her, and she just didn’t get it. We shifted from side to side, and finally I said, “I’m so sorry, but we are trying to watch the movie, could you move to the side?” The lady apologized, and went back to her seat. But not 20 minutes later, here she is back again, sharing some juicy gossip with two seniors in the row in front of us, and blocking our view… oblivious that there is an issue. I took off my earphones and got my book out again, saying nothing more.

Issue number 3: Please try to be considerate of others on the plane – walking back and forth, stopping to chat, etc. – is annoying to those of us just wanting to relax, watch the movie, etc. And, again… isn’t this something that wouldn’t normally be allowed? Doesn’t the pilot request that people take their seats when not going to and from the bathroom? Why were the seniors exempt?

So, to make this story even longer… the flight lands, and only having our backpacks, we decide to get up as soon as the pilot hits the seatbelt sign and try to make our way in front of the seniors before they expected us to carry their baggage, and before they hold up the line exiting the plane. Luckily being younger and more agile, we advanced 10 rows forward before most of the seniors got up (I know I am a schmuck for not helping these seniors, but after 8 long hours, I didn’t have the patience). We got to the luggage carousel, waited for our luggage, and were off. Funny thing is… we did not see one senior from our flight waiting at the luggage carousel. Seriously. So, they didn’t mind paying a couple of thousand for a flight to Hawaii, but they were too cheap to pay $25.00 to check their luggage that they could not manage themselves!

We saw the 20-something at the luggage carousel and joked casually about the ordeal, saying we felt sorry for her. She was very nice, but said she would never, ever again give up her assigned seat.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

david October 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm

i fly from nyc to singapore via london or hong kong and its about a 20-24hr one way trip (with the stop so its around 19hrs flight time) and I and many others walk around the plane to stretch our legs and keep circulation going, its a loooong flight and i fly singapore airlines mainly (esp the new a380 to heathrow than virgin to newark) or cathay pacific and the flight is very comfortable, great service, best airplane food (actually edible) and top notch entertainment

so with older people they need to move around and stretch more due to health reasons, and if there are no personal screens then people will talk to keep busy if not sleep………..most americans get very nervous if there is silence for more than 15secs unless they are busy doing something

annoying yes, majority of my flights are international and have personal tv screens, american airlines are not upto the times and dont have this capability on many of their planes from what i hear


Troy October 21, 2010 at 1:07 am

I flew from Australia to New York on Qantas in January for a total flight time of over 18 hours. Apart from the 2 hour refuelling stop at LAX, I only got up once for about 6 or 7 minutes. I wasn't bothered by other people walking around and admittedly the personal inflight entertainment system does help to distract from the endlessly long journey.


Broomflyer October 21, 2010 at 2:28 am

You selfish people suck. Elderly people need to walk around for health issues, circulation, etc. They paid for their ticket and are equally allowed to bring on a carry on. If they cannot lift it it is because they *are* elderly. What is your rush, why not help them? You WILL be old someday and by that time, you selfish prick, there will not be any respect left for elderly people and this will come back to bit you on the ass. Compare this with other cultures who revere elderly people for their experience and wisdom. This was not even mildly annoying.


Ron October 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

You had to expect the apologist to come on line to say something along the lines of "you suck" and "you're selfish" and cast the blame on the people who were actually pretty patient with this fiasco.

Hey Broomflyer, if the OP is selfish, then so were all the senior citizens who believe they can inconvenience others simply because they're senior citizens. It has nothing to do with age, buddy. It has everything to do with simple courtesy and consideration. That's all.


Jody October 21, 2010 at 3:40 am

I don't mind helping seniors put their luggage in an overhead bin. What's more annoying is able-bodied flyers who know very well their carryon won't fit, but hold everybody up by insisting the FAs find a place for the overstuffed suitcase.


Jim October 21, 2010 at 3:57 am

I am the one that wrote this story. I do have sympathy for Seniors, and don't mind helping those that help themselves.

But, when anyone, senior or not, inconveniences others… because they are too cheap to check their luggage, that is wrong.

Further, when the Seniors have no respect for others, as to continually block the view of the t.v. monitor, after haing been made aware of it politely, that also seems very rude.

And, for the Senior not to be willing to rectify the seat situation by moving herself, is also very rude.

It seems to me many Seniors, like many people today have an entitlement, "me" attitude. I admit, I was selfish for not helping the Seniors unload their luggage from the overhead bins. However, they were also very selfish and cheap to not check luggage, that they could not manage themselves.

Sorry if I offended anyone with the story.


Jaci October 21, 2010 at 5:24 am

I have deep vein thrombosis, which means that I'm on blood thinners and have to make sure that every hour or so, I have to get up from a seated position (no matter if I'm at the office or on a plane) and stretch my legs and walk in order to make sure that I don't develop a blood clot. A lot of seniors have the same issue (though I've got a few years before I hit that mark!).

However, not being conscious that you're blocking someone else's view of the screen isn't a cool thing. I understand your frustration with that situation, but I'm glad that you tried to be calm and polite about it.


JK October 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The Seniors may not have checked their luggage b/c their meds are in the only bag that they are bringing, not b/c they're cheap.


Jim October 22, 2010 at 5:28 am


True, they probably did have all they needed in their luggage they brought on the plane. The two ladies in front of us, had overstuffed small suitcases…the kinds that barely fit in the bin, and which had to be pushed and shoved into place. They could have put their meds in their purses and checked the luggage.

My point being, the luggage was too large and heavy for them not only to lift into the bin, but also to wheel down the aisle of the plane. So, they should have been checked.


Dave October 21, 2010 at 4:53 am

Because everyone else carries so much onto the plane, and overhead bin space is at a premium, I also only carry on a small back pack that fits under the seat in front of me. I am tired of fighting for bin space, and am tired of everyone holding up boarding and unboarding by doing so. So, I do not want to be one of "those" people that insist on bringing a weeks worth of clothing onto a plane and stuffing it into a space only designed for the essentials.

My flight experience is a lot less haggard because of this, I do not have to worry about being one of the first on the plane to find space…and, I do not have to worry about climbing over numerous people and holding up the line as I retrieve my luggage parked 5 rows back, once the plane lands.

So, I check my luggage. I make sure I do not have anything of value in the checked luggage. I make sure I have one change of clothes with me in the backpack, as well as any absolute necessities. And, I make sure I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, so that the luggage has time to be checked properly. I fly less than 10 times a year. So, maybe I am just lucky…but, to date I have never had luggage lost. And, I have never had anything stolen.

I believe if we were all more considerate of others, it would make the flying experience better.

Why do so many insist on carrying on a weeks worth of clothing? Have they had that much luggage lost, or property stolen…and, if so did they take the proper precautions? Are they really that cheap….you pay hundreds of dollars for the flight…really, what is another $25.00 bucks?

And, if you know you are unable to lift the luggage…even, another reason to check it.

Old, young, married, single, business traveler or vacation traveler…the same rules of etiquette should apply.

In this story the older people were rude. Do we give them a pass for being rude, simply because they are old?


Dave October 21, 2010 at 6:22 am

And, for those of us who plan ahead, and pay to check our luggage to avoid the hassles and inconveniences of carry-on….why should we be expected to assist those that did not plan ahead and who didn't pay to check their luggage?

This may be selfish…but, I check my luggage for a reason, to avoid the hassles…so, don't expect me to help you with your hassle, because you are too cheap to check your luggage.


Jaci October 21, 2010 at 9:22 am

I actually take a tape measure to my carry-on luggage to make sure that it fits the rules. When I fly at Christmas, I plan to take a small duffel bag and my gym bag, both being able to fit without any problems in either the overhead compartment or under the seat (will try to have both under the seat though!).

I tend to pack light, and there's a washer and dryer at my parents' house, so I don't need to take much. 🙂


Ron October 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I'm tired of having to cater to those seniors. They're a drain on our economy, and they keep us from progressing forward.


The Logger October 24, 2010 at 12:45 am

Forward to what?

Third world nation status?

Remember, if it weren't for some of these geezers, we would have lost WW II.

We are a nation of self absorbed putzes who can't get out of our own way.

These seniors come from a time when this country was great, and people were self reliant, quite unlike the sissies and scumbags who rule the roost to-day.


Mar October 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Drain on our economy? What do you even mean by catering to them? What words of hate! What's your solution, for all of them to just die off sonner because it's expensive to take care of them? These people have already given a lot to society in their younger years and should command some respect from us.


Ricky Rocket October 23, 2010 at 1:19 am

You are all a bunch of hacks. Your holier-than-thow attitudes are the real problem among travelers. Don't even pretend that you would flat out refuse to assist an elderly person on a plane with their luggage. By not helping you are actually contradicting your own arrogance since no action on your parts would likely cause more of a delay to boarding and deplaning than taking a few seconds to lift or lower a senior's bag. You all piss me off every time I come to this site.


Ann October 23, 2010 at 3:56 am

Mr. Rocket, you expect me to risk hurting my back for someone who's too cheap to check in their bag?


Karl October 23, 2010 at 8:33 am

"Senior Citizen" they are smarter then you think. Joking about not knowing what seat assignment they have: They know very well that they can get away with this crap because younger people forgive them precisely because of their age. This young lady and the young (bagage man) were fooled by them. They had their fun at the expense of this lady changing seats. I'm 69 but because of being still very agile, working out on a daily basis, I don't count myself to this group, not yet. Here is my most recent experience: My wife who is 19 years my junior, very attractive and dressing, may I say, kind of sexy they way I like it, visited a furniture store recently whose owner was about 90 or so and still tending to his place – sort off. Upon seeing her in a short leather skirt made numerous sexual profane remarks to her knowing that he can get away with it because of his age and younger people tend to just laugh it off or just ignore it whereas, if he would not be that high up in age he would end up being slapped around by me or a suit would had been filed for sexual harrasment. If they bring those "Oversea trunks " on board, let them or those FA's deal with it!


Owen October 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm

ahh, old people. can't live with 'em, can't throw 'em outta the plane! LOL….


Laura November 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I have to say this situation was handled pretty well! Some younger people were mildly inconvenienced, but instead of being rude and starting a scene they just dealt with it and felt a little annoyed afterward.

The way I see it is that old people not only have lived through wars and depressions and poodle skirts, but they also have to endure the daily trauma of knowing their time is waning. Not to mention E.D., saggy boobs, wrinkles, and higher risk of illness/bodily injury. I always remind myself of this when octogenarians shove past me in line for trains (I live in Japan – the old people here have REALLY seen it all what with the war etc).

I'm young, able-bodied and healthy, and if I can help people out who are old/obese/disabled/retarded by letting them cut me in line or lifting heavy things for them, so be it.


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