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Flyers Say They Would Switch Seats – For the Right Reason

In a new YouGov poll, older flyers say they would give up their seat to those who want to sit next to their child or spouse, but not necessarily for cash.
It can always be awkward to ask a complete stranger to change seats with you on a flight.


But according to a new YouGov poll, many strangers would be happy to make the switch for the right reasons.


Spoiler alert: Cash isn’t one of them.


Top Reasons to Switch Seats is for Children, Spouses, or Upgrades

The poll asked 700 U.S. adults from the ages of 18 and over 65 about what it would take for them to switch seats with another passenger. In most cases, travelers could be willing to make an adjustment if it came to a spouse or family member, but not necessarily a friend.


Across the board, three-in-four flyers say they would give up their seat if a flyer wanted to sit next to a younger family member traveling with them. While those 30 and above are more likely to accept a swap, those 18-29 would only agree to it two-thirds of the time.


The number drops to two-thirds if a set of spouses are split on a flight. Once again, the 18-29 crowd say they would only swap seats nearly half the time, while those above 30 are most likely to agree to the change.


Seat changes are equally likely if a flyer is likely to end up in a better seat, such as a domestic premium economy seat or an exit row. Among everyone, 72% said they would agree to the change – but the youngest crowd and those over 65 would be less likely to do it.


Getting paid or wanting to sit next to a friend are the least likely scenarios for someone to change seats. Only 54% of flyers would take some form of compensation to change seats, while 52% said they would switch seats to sit next to a friend. Only four percent said they wouldn’t change a seat for any reason, with those between 18 and 44 the least likely to agree to a seat change.


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KatW May 10, 2024

I fly first or biz, book early in an aisle seat in the forward rows, but not first row. There are reasons I book and pay thusly including mobility. I don't switch period.

sfoeuroflyer May 5, 2024

For me simple:  if the proposed new seat is equal to or better than the one I have, no problem.  No way would I switch to a seat that's worse.

Barrheadlass May 4, 2024

On a recent flight I was on, a man asked the woman in the middle seat next to him to switch with his wife, who had a window seat two rows back.  She said no.  I'd actually never heard anyone ask to switch seats, but to not give up a middle for a window?  I couldn't believe she said no.

vindor May 3, 2024

On a trip to Tokyo from LAX earlier this year I had an FA approach me in my econ aisle seat and ask if I'd be willing to switch with someone who wanted to be seated near their family who was in my row and the one behind me. They seemed like very nice people so I said as long as it's an aisle or window I'd be happy to. I wound up in a premium econ bulkhead seat. 

nightowlgirl May 3, 2024

I'm one of those people who are highly unlikely to switch unless the seat is equal to or better than my seat.  I want an aisle seat.  I pick my seat well in advance and often pay for that privelege.  I'm sorry if you did not or could not do the same.  I won't even sit next to friends or family if it means I would have to sit in the middle.  Once I got upgrade to 1st because my frequent flyer status with that airline but my boyfriend did not.  What are you going to do?  I said, see you at the end of the flight lol.  And yes, we are still together.  Another time the same thing happen but I was with my mother.  Well, what are you going to do? I gave her the good seat.  Boyfriend's may come and go but your mother is your mother for life ;)