You board the airplane, boarding pass in hand and travel down the aisle to your seat — only to find someone else sitting there. You explain to that person that he or she is sitting in your seat. The person responds to you that he or she wanted to be near a family member, friend, child or spouse.
What do you do?
How about the seat poachers who give lame excuses for settling into your assigned seat, such as “I need to get out to go to restroom frequently so I am taking this seat if you don’t mind” or “My travel agent always books this seat for me. She must have screwed up. Do you mind if I stay here?”
When an airline swaps an airplane for a flight, seat poachers can use the ensuing confusion to take the seats they want — such as in an exit row where there is usually more room for your legs.
FlyerTalk member CopperSteve felt some satisfaction witnessing a flight attendant forcing a seat poacher to move…
…but then there are also those seat poachers who are brazen enough to steal seats in the premium class cabin even though they purchased tickets for seats in the economy class cabin, as apparently attempted by this woman.
Just as bad is the seat poacher who parks himself or herself in your seat towards the front of the aircraft, hoping that you automatically will not mind taking his or her middle seat near the lavatory at the rear of the aircraft by the noisy engines.
If someone is already sitting in my assigned seat, I will first check my boarding pass to ensure that I have the correct seat assignment on that flight before I politely ask that person if he or she is certain that he or she is in the correct seat. After all, I have encountered myself and another person in the past having boarding passes with the same seat assignment on the same flight on the same day — albeit rare.
If the person is indeed in the wrong seat, I will politely ask that person to move and give the benefit of the doubt that he or she simply made a mistake. Usually, that person moves and the situation is resolved.
If the person automatically assumed that I would move without even asking me, then all bets are off. In order to justify being that rude, that person had better have a really good reason to convince me to switch my seat — and not to some unwanted seat towards the rear of the aircraft. In this situation, I have no problem denying the request of the seat poacher after the fact — and I will call a flight attendant to resolve the situation, if necessary.
Of course, seat poaching can actually yield a beneficial result — such as in the case of FlyerTalk member robb, who found a man sitting in his assigned seat in the same row as his wife and a lap child whose diaper was being changed in the empty seat between them. With an empty middle seat next to him, robb was happy with his aisle seat amongst the front rows of the economy class cabin.
By the way, I intend to address the diaper changing issue at the seat at a later time. I also intend to address seat requests at a later time as well. This article discusses fellow passengers who have already poached your seat.
What do you do when you find someone already sitting in your assigned seat when you board the aircraft — or have you witnessed someone poaching the seat of someone else? Please share your story.