The Good Samaritans

October 20, 2007

in Passenger Stories

My son was about 16 and we arrived several hours early to ensure that we were at least fairly certain of getting into the “A” or “B” group on an airline that won’t be named.

We were proud of our hours of standing in line and the resulting fine boarding cards. We stood in line to make sure we had decent positioning as boarding took place and we did, indeed, get favorable seats–reasonably close to the front and together.

Last passenger on: a lady with a child of about six. Too old to sit on laps, too young to be unattended. There were no two seats together. The attendent pleaded with us to change our seating. What was I to do? Teach my 16-year old son that, “We earned it, she is stupid for getting there late.” Seemingly, the rest of the cabin decided that was the conclusion.

Instead, I opted for, “Even though she is a selfish twit who can’t get anywhere on time, even though she has a child to care for, we will be the Good Samaritans.” As anyone can tell, it gets worse. The only two remaining seats were sitting backwards in the seats that face another three seats (I think they call it “club seating,” but it is not “clubby” at all). Both of us in the middle. The lady across from me started retching loudly on the takeoff roll and did not stop until we pulled into our spot in Kansas City. All five surrounding my son were drunk, obnoxious and loud.

There oughta be a law.

Signed, Bob from Kansas City, MO

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Dena October 9, 2008 at 10:32 am

This reminds me of the time I got to my assigned (and requested) aisle seat & found a child in it, with her mother next to her. I showed the woman my seat assignment, but she wouldn't get up. I called the flight attendant, who said "She's travelling with a child." I said "Wasn't she going to be travelling with a child when she got her tickets???" The flight attendant told me to find an empty seat. The only one on the whole plane was a window seat next to a man whose invalid wife was on the aisle. Being tall & somewhat claustrophobic, this was a nightmare for me, but the flight attendants wouldn't help. I plotted how I could crawl over the seats in front of me in case of an emergency, and then buried myself in a book from Tampa to Houston. I wouldn't put up with that these days.

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arisa October 23, 2008 at 5:30 am

I have to disagree. There have been a couple times where I've made the reservation–with my children–with plenty of time, and the airline or does not book the seats properly, or tells me they will be assigned at the airport. And once I get to the airport–with tons of time–there still are no seats. This could better be resolved by asking passengers prior to the flight date, to change seats and give them a bonus for doing so as they do when they gie up seats. But don't blame the moms. I've been there, and despite my best intentions, the attendants and gate people have not helped. And believe me,sitting next to some strange four year old is no picnic either.

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Julie October 30, 2008 at 8:27 am

The gentlemanly thing to do was to accommodate the mother and her young child- by doing so you taught your son a valuable lesson. However, the lesson would have been much better had you delivered it with a smile and without the complaining. Additionally, you do not know why this mother was late to the airport. Perhaps she had car trouble, or caught a last minute flight for a funeral, but it isn't right to assume that she was late due to a lack of personal responsibility.

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Beth June 12, 2015 at 10:46 am

I was thinking perhaps the kid (still being young) needed a potty break right before they got on, so they had to leave the line and attend to that…

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Anon November 19, 2008 at 10:24 am

There is no right to sit in someone else's assigned seat. You ask FIRST, you do not presume. It is the airline's responsibility to handle seat assignments.

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Lia April 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

Now, Bob, you don't know this woman's story – why she was not as on time as you were. It is almost certain that circumstances were beyond her control, as most mothers would try to arrive early so that they could ensure getting a seat with their children. I agree with Julie that your would have come off as a good samaritan only if you had not whined about having to do a good deed.

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Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

For all you know, the six year old why she was late, if the kid was being awful and she made a heroic effort to even get the kid on the plane at all. Maybe she was at a funeral, visiting a sick relative, or saying goodbye to someone she'll never see again. A little dramatic, but you never know. If you're going to do a good thing, don't complain about it.

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Anna Marie April 2, 2009 at 10:21 am

Why not just teach your son the lesson of being a good human being without any strings attached? That's what it means to be a Good Samaritan; to do good just for the sake of doing good. To insult the woman and berate her really nullifies any idea of being "good". You do not know her nor her situation. Flatly, sir (if the term can be stretched so far), I find you to be a jerk.

I was in a similar situation and gave up my seat without question. I ended up sitting next to the husband of my state's lieutenant governor and had a great series of wonderful conversations the whole flight from ABQ to DFW. I only wish something so enlightening happens again next time I fly.

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Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 11:42 am

yeah anna marie, bob sounds like a total d-bag

bob, you suck

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me April 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Sounds like you were presented with other more valuable lessons to teach your son: 1) don't smoke so you won't retch loudly, 2) don't drink so you won't be drunk, obnoxious and loud, and 3) don't go to Kansas City.

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D-TOM April 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I fly weekly and although I always try to get to their airport two hours early there have been times when traffic conditions have caused me to be late. Bob sounds like a selfish and inconsiderate jackhole and if I had over heard his comment I would have made a strong effort to slam my luggage into his head or shin before he left the destination airport.

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sexygal May 19, 2015 at 10:58 pm

That's no way to act towards someone even if you disagree with them!

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GetOverYourself April 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm

If you have such a problem with the seating policy, fly something else. I know plenty of people who won't fly them because of the seating policy. If you have a problem with it go pay twice as much, baggage fees, and be delayed, stranded on the tarmac, or treated like crap by employees. I will be glad to deal with the seating policy if it means sparing myself the aforementioned hassles. Since I doubt you will be complaint free on the other carriers either, why don't you do everyone a favor and drive or charter a flight. You knew the seating policy when you booked since you knew to get checked in early and you knew the risks. I instead check in online as soon as online check in opens up and then proceed to the back of the plane…it seems the majority of your problem stems from you HAVING to sit right in the front. It doesn't take a lot of common sense to figure out that that will be the first place flight attendants try to put the last minute stragglers.

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debi April 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Although I understand why you were irked, you should have moved without complaint. I am female and when I am on a bus or other mode of transportation that is fully packed, I will offer my seat to an elderly person, or anyone that needs the seat more than myself. At the grocery store, if I have a lot of stuff in my cart and the person behind me has only a few items, I offer them to get in front of me. If I am in a rush but see someone that needs help, I stop and help. I let people merge ahead of me if I see they have been blocked out too long. Courtesy is something that is done freely, not because you have to be told to do. If you have to be forced to take action, you really are not a courteous person.

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Leah April 2, 2009 at 4:59 pm

You know, you did the right thing, and it's ok to vent abt it. What you taught your son is, that you do the right thing, even when you do not want to. If I had been the woman with the child, I would have been grateful to you.

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redpenner April 2, 2009 at 10:08 pm

I had the same thing happen to me on a train. I was travelling alone & got to the station early to get a good seat. After the train was full a couple got on and wanted to sit together. The conductor ordered me to give up my seat and move to a backward-facing one, where I couldn't see and felt queasy the whole trip. Sometimes first-come-first-served doesn't apply to people who are alone and have no one to stick up for them.

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AL April 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Why is Bob being chastised here? My goodness.. this could all be avoided by having child-less airlines.. Ship all the brats and their parents that travel with multiple carry-ons and take forever to get off the plane together.

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Anon April 4, 2009 at 6:59 am

I always reserve my seats next to my children but when I check in I have found frequently that the seats has been changed. And for all you know this was a connecting flight and the airline is the reason she wans't there earlier

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bradfield April 4, 2009 at 7:47 am

If the rule is, passengers have to stand in line, and no seats are assigned, this should incl everyone! If you're a mother/father of 2 or more and cant handle this, choose another airline!!!

Why is it, people with kids are the first to board, but is ok to leave the plane with the rest of us???!!!!

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Evie April 5, 2009 at 5:29 am

My husband and I were travelling from Detroit to Duesseldorf in 2001. I was pregnant (VERY PREGNNANT) and my daughter was about 9 months, when United didn't assing us to our seats with the baby crib (we paid for) and put us up in the middle of the plane. It would have been alright, if another parent would have gotten our seats, but it was a TALL guy who needed to stretch his legs. So for 9 hourse I was forced to hold my baby (switching with my husband) and make my pregnant self comfortable. Did I bitch? Nope, took it like a good girl with a smile on my face. After asking the flight attendend once, she refused to help and I just let it go. If more people would let it go and not get to worked up about shit, life would be easier.

To the gentleman who has written this story: I am proud of you, you are this nations hero and on behalf of all mothers with small children I bow in front of you. It is solely our fault that our children always have to go to the bathroom, right before we have to leave. That they spill their juice on the way out the door. That our car doesn't want to start, although you expect it too and in our hurry we are too stupid to find a parking space in the over crowded parking lot.

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Joe Mama April 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I think Bob is a jerk. Yes, this lady must have been a selfish twit for wanting to sit next to her 6 year old child instead of having her child sit next to some stranger. Teach your son right and make accommodations for your fellow travelers. It didn't hurt you a bit.

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Sharon April 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Once, while flying Southwest from Little Rock to Phoenix with a grandchild (yes, we boarded early) a woman and small child came on after all of the other passengers were seated. The FAs were asking a few different people traveling alone if they would switch so the mom could sit with the child. You would have thought that there was a 1st class section since it took 4 or 5 requests before an older gentleman got up and offered to move so the mom and child could sit next to his wife. Gee, and I thought we all pulled into the gate at the same time.

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Zoe May 6, 2009 at 7:05 am

It sure sucks sometimes when you try to be noble.

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Atari May 31, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Agh. That's incredibly unfair. Shouldn't we all be treated with respect?

What is with these PRICKS getting into other people's seats and refusing to leave?

Where's common courtesy? Someone needs to be shot.

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Kat June 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Hey Bob, I think that you were the selfish twit for not giving up your seat!

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