Several weeks ago I took my 9-year-old daughter to Disney World for the first time. We flew from PHL to MIA with little difficulty, where we connected for what was supposed to be a 30-minute flight to Orlando.
It being summer vacation and our destination being the home of Mickey, the plane was naturally swamped with families. No worries, it’s what we expected and anyway, it’s only 30 minutes in the air. Boarding took ages, which, again, was to be expected when half the people on board have toddlers or strollers or ten tons of carry-ons. The standby list at the gate listed 24 people, so I was anticipating a packed house.
The plane had two rows of three seats across, and it was only my daughter and me in our traveling party, so I was surprised that when boarding seemed to be all said and done, the window seat next to my daughter was empty. But no, wait, here comes a blonde woman with twin girls, maybe about 4 years old, down the aisle, accompanied by a FA who directed her to put one of the girls in the window seat next to my daughter, and said that there were 2 other empty seats back further in the cabin, not together.
Well, these little girls were not having it. Neither wanted to be separated from their mother (I’m assuming) or each other, and were screaming and crying and squirming and not able to sit apart. As the other passengers are starting to grumble, 3 FAs are looking on benignly as these girls have a nuclear meltdown over the idea of being separated. I asked the woman if one of the girls would prefer the aisle seat so at least she could turn around and see her family, and that worked for all of about 10 seconds until she wiggled out under her seatbelt and ran screaming back to her sister.
By this time departure time had come and gone. I advised my daughter to grab her backpack and told one of the FAs that this woman and her girls could sit in our row, that my daughter and I would take the other seats open in the cabin.
“Oh, that’s so nice of you,” the FA said, and a few people in the seats around us actually applauded as the woman and her girls were able to seat themselves together as we moved further back.
Here’s where things got obnoxious. The two empty seats were a middle seat in row 32, and a window seat in row 33. I am a fairly robust girl, I am obviously overweight but I can fit in my seat with no problem and don’t encroach on anyone else’s space. A very large man with a sea lionesque moustache was seated at the window in 32, and he raised holy hell as I approached.
“You ain’t sitting here,” he said, pointing from me to the seat next to him. “You’re too big.”
Seeing as this gentleman outweighed me by at least 75 pounds, I was a bit confused and embarrassed because I had just given up our seat to a family with small kids and now my size was being bellowed across six aisles.
“I like my space,” the guy continued, “and I paid for this seat; you aren’t sitting next to me. There isn’t enough room for both of us.”
“Sir, really, I won’t be in your space,” I said, “and really, at this point I just think everyone wants to get to Orlando.”
“Amen!” shouted a woman behind me, and I looked to the FA for help.
The FA just shrugged and suggested that my daughter sit between this guy and the woman on the aisle, and that I climb over the grandmother and young grandson in the aisle behind them and into the window seat. Okay, sure, whatever, let’s just go. I knew that my daughter would have been more comfortable with the idea of sitting next to the little kid instead of this posturing walrus, but she was old enough to not complain and to amuse herself with SkyMall.
What seems like an eternity later, we finally get in the air. The guy in front of me keeps trying to twist around and shoot me dirty looks. Twenty-five minutes later we are landing in Orlando, but there is no gate ready for us. There is another plane getting ready to depart, and it will be maybe 10 minutes until we can taxi to the gate.
This guy started yelling a torrent of obscenities. My daughter turned around in her seat to look at me, and her face was scarlet, she was so embarrassed. The grandmotherly woman on the aisle seat in my row leaned forward to tell him that the plane is full of children and maybe he can relax, and he told her, very maturely, to “shut up.”
Before things could get out of hand, we taxied to the gate and this ass clown leaped to his feet and shoved his way up the aisle to the front of the plane. At this point I think most everyone was happy to let him put distance between himself and them.
On our way off the plane, the FA that had re-seated us thanked us again for giving up our seats, and apologized for the large man’s rudeness. It was much appreciated but unnecessary. After all, we were on our way to the happiest place on earth.