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Anxious Flyer Sparks Drama After Refusing To Give Up Seat To Let Woman Sit With Her Daughter

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It’s no secret that some of us really struggle with flying. Those who struggle will do pretty much anything to avoid it.

But for one passenger on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, the best solution for their unavoidable flight was to book an extra seat, to give them a little breathing room.

But Redditor BeautifulChemist6017 realized it wasn’t going to be so simple when the flight turned out to be open-seating.

Later, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were wrong for standing up for themselves.

They asked: 

“AITA for not letting a woman have the seat next to me on the plane?” 

The OP recently had an unavoidable flight.

“I recently had to fly across the US to deal with certain company matters. My company apologized profusely to me because I am terrified of flying, but seeing as it would have been a 25 hour drive, I obliged.”

For a little extra space, they booked another seat.

“For the trip, my company paid for my seat, but I decided to also reserve the seat next to mine. Again, this is an anxiety issue.”

“I would have fit just fine into my seat, but if I needed to vomit/started to get panicky, at the very least I wanted to have a buffer between myself and the next person.”

“I had an aisle seat in a three-person row, and people were shuffling around changing their seats before takeoff. I do not know how it works, but apparently, people can occasionally just sit down wherever they want and the flight attendants don’t have to deal with it?”

“The seating arrangement was me – open seat (mine) – a teenage girl I’d place around the 7th grade.”

The OP wasn’t the only person who wanted that seat.

“Right before we started getting taxied, a middle-aged woman abruptly sat down in the middle seat and fist bumped the teenage girl.”

“Immediately I told her that I had reserved that seat, and she started by being very considerate.”

“She quietly told me she was getting away from a bad situation, and really wanted to sit next to her daughter. During this explanation, she repeatedly pointed out her daughter sitting next to her, as if I would be a monster for depriving her of that seat.”

“I stuck to my guns though and told her that I would get the cabin attendant if she didn’t go back to her seat several rows back in the middle.”

“She called me on my bluff, so I flagged one down. He asked if I really needed the middle seat (?????) and I said yes.”

“Then he politely asked the woman to move, which she did, but not before calling me a ‘d**khead.'”

The OP had mixed feelings after the flight.

“Since she did this rather loudly, several people were clearly looking at me, and I couldn’t really read what they were thinking.”

“I kind of feel bad about it now, and after arriving safely I wonder if I should have just given up the seat.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some Redditors said the OP had a right to the seat after paying for it. 

“I understood that by reserved, you paid for the seat. If you did you are NTA. I don’t get why people don’t check seats before getting on the plane and choose with time how they are going to be seated, they feel entitled to bother everyone”pioroa

“Should you have given her the seat then potentially barfed all over her? No, though it might have been a good lesson for her.”Chauntalauve

“NTA. You should have told her why you bought the extra seat, because you don’t like flying and might vomit on the person next to you. I bet that would have got her back in her seat quickly!”biananevenc

“While an explanation might be nice, OP is in no way required to give an explanation. All she has to say is I paid for two seats, and I am getting two seats.”chop1125

“I will also say, like, as someone with anxiety on planes, having extra space MAJORLY reduces that anxiety. OP is doing a good job taking care of their needs and I fully empathize.”felixkahns

“Not just bought, but likely paid extra to choose specific side-by-side seats.”

“NTA, and who cares what a bunch of strangers on a plane you will never see again think. You’ve done nothing wrong. None of them will give it a second thought the next day.”hopelesscaribou

“I will never understand why airlines think it’s ok to ask customers who PAID EXTRA to give up that extra and not receive a refund.”Willowgirl78

Others questioned why the mother and daughter couldn’t find another solution. 

“Why not ask the person next to her if her daughter could take their seat and they could move next to OP and even have an empty seat in between? It seems like an obvious solution.”

“Chances are another person would take them up in the offer for a window seat with an empty seat next to them.”ProbablyNotADuck

“I have flown with my kids before.”

“Due to custody stuff, it’s difficult to purchase three tickets at once.”

“I don’t know how many times we check in with and aren’t sitting next to each other.”

“I always stop by the gate agent. I’ve always been able to get seating assignments changed and sit next to my kids.”

“Either this airline doesn’t do seat assignments (Southwest), or the lady didn’t bother trying to talk to the gate agent.”

“NTA.” – taws34

“I understand wanting to keep the family closer together, but if you paid extra for more legroom (my husband is 6’9, I understand your pain with how cramped seats are) and are in an upgraded seat, sometimes I wish they wouldn’t even ask.”gottabekittensme

One Redditor offered a unique perspective for all involved. 

“NTA!”

“My goodness please do care for yourself (As you have already done), and care for yourself all the way through if you need to.”

“That woman was really entitled, and really should not have called you that. I hope anyone who happened to be on that plane and witnessed that to read this and know you’re Not the A.”

“Why would the Teenage daughter have been the one in a vulnerable spot, she’s sitting there fine. That woman also seems feisty enough to handle stuff and call strangers names so she doesn’t seem to be in a vulnerable spot either.”

“And the attendants were also around to diffuse any rough situations so they could have helped her with any problems she had at her previous seat.”

“Also, the seat next to you is paid for by you(r company). It’s not like it was a free empty seat and that they ‘scored’ *fist bump* one of those free seats situations. You know sometimes people just don’t happen to get two seats next to each other, so they wait and see if other people vacated theirs to sit elsewhere and they thought that was the case for that middle seat.”

“Or maybe you’re right, the mother was in a bad situation. But did you hear any commotion behind?”

“Teenage girl, if you’re reading this, please understand your mom was ‘Stealing’. Ok. I know you live in a dog-eat-dog world and your mom probably is teaching you to take advantage of situations like these.”

“But sometimes if you ask it in the right way, and if refused, you back off politely, the world would be a better place. But your mom did it the wrong way and she’s the A. Sorry, Teenage girl.”ParticleDetector

It was undoubtedly frustrating for the mother to not be able to sit with her daughter throughout their flight.

But knowing what we know about the OP’s flying conditions, it was probably for the best that the mother didn’t sit next to them.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.