Throughout the last year or so, flight etiquette has been hotly debated — especially when it comes to assigned seating and passengers who request a last-minute swap.
Well, the flames were stoked once again when a first-hand experience was recounted on Reddit by user u/michaeldonelly, who says they were on a long flight (over five hours) and specifically paid for an aisle seat in the second-to-last row because they have a medical issue that sometimes requires they have quick and easy access to a bathroom.
Here's the story in u/michaeldonelly's (aka Michael's) own words: "Right before boarding, a woman asked me to give up my seat so she could sit closer to the bathroom. She was pregnant but did not seem distressed."
"While I felt for her situation, as someone with a medical condition, I did not feel it was fair to demand I move from the seat I planned for and paid for, especially since she apparently had not booked an aisle seat herself in advance."
"The flight attendants refused to help mediate when she insisted I should have to move. There were also no other aisle or close seats available on the full flight that I or flight crew could facilitate swapping. I tried to recommend she speak to her doctor about needing accommodation if sitting far from the bathroom is not medically advisable for her situation during future flights."
"Still, my family says I should have inconvenienced myself and given up my seat. I disagree though — I think she and the flight crew were unfairly targeting me instead of handling it through proper channels. Am I the asshole?"
After hearing that A) Michael planned in advance and secured a seat next to the bathroom and, B) That he did so to accommodate a medical issue, there were very few souls in the comment section who had sympathy for the pregnant passenger.
"Not the asshole," user Trailsya said. "She should have booked the seat she wanted herself or not gone on the flight. Seems she just assumed she wouldn't have to pay for it, since some sucker was going to move."
"The flight attendants are at fault for not mediating. At some point they should have told her to go back to her seat. And all of this is regardless of your medical issues. You paid for the seat. She didn't."
Another user agreed, writing:
"If I have paid a fee to book THAT seat, then no, I am not moving unless you are paying me the money I am out (in cash before I move). If another passenger wants a specific seat, they can pay for it. I am over people using personal circumstances to steal (yes, steal) from others. Not the asshole," Humble_Pen_7216 said.
Those who have experienced flying while pregnant weighed in as well, with one person saying, "Not the asshole, and I say this as someone who has been pregnant and has flown solo with a toddler. Every passenger has equal opportunity to pre-book seats based on their needs and preferences."
"It’s no one business why you booked that seat. Was the passenger or airline going to reimburse you for the cost of pre-booking the seat? Zero obligation for you to move," Far-Juggernaut8880 said.
Many made clear that though Michael's medical condition does add further context to the situation that the pregnant passenger may not have known about, this information doesn't change the facts or point at hand.
"You shouldn’t have to disclose your medical condition to anyone and are fully entitled to the seat you paid for. Your family owes you an apology if they are aware of your condition and insist you should have given up your seat," user Killingtime_onReddit said. "The pregnant woman’s failure to plan accordingly does not constitute an emergency on your part."
Many called her "entitled" for not taking no for an answer...
"As a frequent flier I see this a lot. Entitled people thinking they can have whatever seat they want. Nope. If you paid to select your seat. That’s your seat. End of story. Your lack of planning or decision to be cheap is not my fault nor my obligation to remedy," user dickpierce69 said.
...and fliers are wary of having to deal with others who seem to believe they should be treated differently or better without reason.
"I am so sick of this constant idea that people are jerks if they don't give up a seat that they paid for. I don't care if you're pregnant or a family trying to be together or whatever!!! If you know that you need a specific seat, pay for it or deal with the consequences.
I particularly think this case is annoying because you know you had a medical condition and set yourself up to be in the most comfortable position possible. This woman decided to play the 'I'm pregnant so be nice to me' card. Does she not know that being pregnant means you need to go to the bathroom all the time? Most people know that about pregnancy. Why did she not plan in advance? Not the asshole. Not the asshole. Not the asshole," user FoggyDaze415 said.
But I'm curious — what do you think about the situation? Do you think the pregnant passenger was wrong to push the point after Michael said no? Is Michael's family right, and he is the asshole? Should he have given up the seat? Or was he right in standing firm? And what's up with the flight attendants refusing to help? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length/clarity.