Middle Seat Maneuver

January 28, 2011

in Seat Stories

I was on an international flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco. Luckily, I had the aisle seat. Unfortunately the middle seat was empty. Additionally, I was directly behind one of the service areas so both my bags were in the overhead bin. The flight was fairly full but there were still open seats.

About 1 hour into an 11 hour flight another passenger (from the Middle East) decided that he needed to occupy the middle seat next to me. It would not have been that bad but for the fact that this man was about 6’4″ and well over 200 lbs. Additionally, he had moved to give his wife more room to relax during the flight. The South African guy in the window seat was not thrilled about this guy sitting there either.

The flight was not that eventful and after about 2 hours the guy went to the lavatory. I quickly put one of my bags in the empty seat and told the guy by the window to do the same. He was reluctant, but when I mentioned it was to keep the big guy from sitting down he agreed.

When the big guy tried to return to the seat next to me he appeared offended but could not make a scene because it was not his seat.

One other note was that both the guy from South Africa and I had been asked if we would move so that a family could use the bulkhead row. He was asked first and said no; I did not really care as I had the aisle seat.

– GC

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne January 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I'm not sure why you found it necessary to say "Middle East" or "South African" when referring to certain passengers in your post. Is there some reason you did so?


poco January 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Hmmm… maybe because one guy was from the Middle East and the other from South Africa? You know, because he was describing the people in his story? Naaahhh…. it must be that he's a raving bigot, right?


sushi January 29, 2011 at 6:03 am

Sounds … hellish?


Susu January 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

What a jerk you are and so childish as well. You really need to go back to preschool to learn some manners.


Aaron January 30, 2011 at 8:56 am

Feel free to use the rating buttons to convey your opinion of this post, but let's cut the personal attacks out. This is the kind of offensive tone we're trying to change here on FFH.


Stephanie January 31, 2011 at 7:20 am

I'm curious; did the guy ask first or did he just walk over and take that seat? Last I knew, unless an airline attendant asks for you to give up an empty seat, you're not required to do so.

If he asked first, you both said yes, then changed your mind then how you handled it is a wee bit childish. If he just walked over and plopped down, I would think you'd be within your rights to call an attendant and find out just why he felt so entitled.


Blah February 27, 2011 at 11:36 am

If the person sitting adjacent to the empty seat did not purchase it, they have no right or ability to "give up an empty seat." Now, as for the man making space for his wife by intruding on two strangers, I think that is childish.


xipe xipe February 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I have mixed feelings about this- the empty middle seat next to you is not for you to give away , or for you to decide who seats there or not.
Ive been in the same situation- seven hour flight, knew that the middle seat was supposed to be empty, according to seating chart, and some guy had a fight with his wife, and decided to set next to me. What can you do?
I jokingly accused him of taking "my" middle seat….

bottom line- an empty seat in coach, is free for all.


Tribeca September 2, 2011 at 4:41 am

Don't be so annoying. It shouldn't be a free-for-all. So that his wife can have space, he imposes himself on two strangers?

Your grammar's appalling, by the way.


Troy February 7, 2011 at 2:29 am

Who care’s if the writer addressed them as ‘South African’ or ‘Middle East’. Would anyone care if they were referred to as Canadian, Australian, English or American. No of-course not because of stupid double standards and Americans who think their lesson is also everyone elses to learn.


Jonasgal November 14, 2015 at 8:47 pm

That was just terrible–putting your bags there so he couldn't sit down again!–Honestly, now! Really!!!


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