Passengers Try to Finagle Seat for Friend

July 15, 2016

in Seat Stories

I was flying Southwest, where there are no reserved seats. There was a group of three adult women who were all friends. Note that they were not disabled or with special needs, just friends flying to the same destination together. In addition, this was a full flight (143 seats, 143 passengers).

Two women had “A” boarding passes, and one woman had a “B” boarding pass. One of the “A” women suggested that the “B” woman cut in line so that they could sit together during the flight. “B” woman said no, and followed Southwest’s procedure of first come, first served in accordance with their boarding number system (A1-A60, B1-B-60, followed by C-1-C-X depending on plane capacity).

The two women with “A” tickets picked a row, took the aisle and window seats, and put small carry-on items in the middle seat in a lousy attempt to reserve the seat for “B” woman. Trying to scare people from taking a seat in her row, “A” woman in the window seat loudly told the other “A” woman about her body odor, and how it was so bad it set off sensors at the TSA security checkpoint. I was sitting one row from “A” woman who told the BO story and could not notice or smell anything. Pathetic.

A polite gentleman (presumably a “B” passenger with a higher priority boarding number than the “B” woman in the group) asked to sit in the row with the two “A” women. They refused to give up the seat. A flight attendant noticed and made an announcement that it was a 100% full flight, there are no reserved seats, that you would likely have to sit next to a stranger, and that failure to comply would only delay the boarding process. The flight attendant forced BO lady and her friend to give up the seat for the guy. Aisle “A” woman moved over and gave the guy the aisle seat – she took the middle seat.

Not sure where “B” woman ended up sitting, but it doesn’t matter. Besides, it was only a one hour flight.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Frequesnt SW Flyer July 18, 2016 at 9:27 am

OK, so this guy was in the "B" group. At that point, I'm sure there were still many other available middle row seats he could have chosen. Given that this group. I'm sure it was not necessary for this gentleman to pick that particular seat. And, why would he want to sit with people who clearly did not want to sit with him – if other choices were available. The third woman traveling with them had to sit somewhere. Why not with the folks she was traveling with? People have no common sense these days…..


nyrB July 18, 2016 at 10:25 am

First of all, there was probably only middle seats left at this point. If this particular seat was further forward than other middle seats, it would be more desirable (the further forward you are, the quicker you get off the plane).

Secondly, he could probably tell the two women were together and decided to play "unite the couple". When you find a couple occupying the window and aisle seats and ask to sit between them, inevitably one of them will move over so that they can sit next to each other. Result: the guy got a coveted aisle seat even though there weren't any available. Sounds to me like he had a great deal of common sense.


prp July 18, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Strange story…..If he was in group b they're would have been an almost empty aircraft to choose any seat he wanted before everybody followed b,c d e . etc….
Why he chose the seat he did is anybodys guess


Rj1 July 18, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I don't fault the two A group passengers for wanting to sit with their friend but there's two things they a should have done. 1. Sat near the rear to minimize the chances of someone sitting in their row prior to the friend boarding AND be honest, don't be a passive aggressive jerk just politely say my friend is boarding would you mind letting her have this middle seat. I think most people would be understanding but if they weren't it would be their right.


reader July 19, 2016 at 8:09 am

Exactly. I flew SWA with my niece last summer and had a higher boarding position. I chose an aisle and middle seat; when others got on they asked if both the window and aisle seats were free and I very politely said "the middle seat is taken but the window is free." No problems.


nyrB July 19, 2016 at 9:52 am

It's my understanding that on SWA you can't save seats. Therefore you can be polite as you want about saying "the middle seat is taken" but it's still b.s. The only reason you had "no problems" is because most people don't like to be confrontational and call people out on their b.s.


reader July 20, 2016 at 5:58 am

Umm — your understanding is wrong. I contacted Southwest to see if saving seats was permitted and was told "yes," but not to get ridiculous about it. Saving one seat for a companion is OK, saving several for a group is not. Even the flight attendants said it was OK. What probably happened (if you were paying attention you'd have noticed it) is that the first passengers didn't say "this seat is taken" but rather "no you can't sit here."


RedHead0186 July 20, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Agreed. I've heard (from SWA flight attendants) that you can save one seat right next to your for a spouse or travel companion. So, if those women had just handled it better from the start and explained they were saving the seat, there shouldn't have been an issue.


nyrB July 20, 2016 at 2:05 pm

So why was the flight attendant making an announcement telling passengers "there are no reserved seats" then? And then forcing the two ladies to give up a seat they're obviously saving for their travel companion? Or does the "saving seat" policy only apply to polite people such as yourself?


RST August 8, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Hmmm, Not sure who you talked to but this is 'technically' incorrect. Their policy is no saving seats. That is announced on virtually every flight I take with SW (and there are many). However, people are generally reasonable as others have stated. I have saved seats with and for my sons and wife. Where one or both kids will board with me, but my wife is boarding later (I have status, but she doesn't and will not pay for early bird).


APME July 19, 2016 at 7:51 am

With that attitude, I would have sat in the middle just to piss them off.


Laura May 12, 2017 at 11:10 am

If people are too CHEAP to pay $15 for early boarding, they get to sit wherever a seat is left. If you can't spend a couple hours apart from your spouse, kids, friends, spend the $15. That's how it works.


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