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Useful list of things to say when asked to switch seats

Useful list of things to say when asked to switch seats

Old Feb 7, 09, 11:08 am
  #76  
 
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I try to be helpful, because I travel with a friend/relative on different PNRs. So we may both get upgraded, but not sit together. And I ask (but only equivalent seats). Only one person turned me down in a lot of requests, but the person in my son's equivalent seat agreed. Sometimes it just doesn't matter anyway.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 12:50 pm
  #77  
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
A little anthropological note:

I think (while not being entirely unselfish in my decision process) a lot of people on this thread are anal control freaks with a severe and unjustified sense of entitlement and a small spirit who just jump at the chance to stick it to somebody for the sheer gratification of their egos. It is the other side of the coin in the US where a ton of people will go really out of their way to help a stranger and ask for nothing in return. In Europe both kinds of extreme behaviors are rarer.
Let's get something straight:

When I fly (and, in fact, when I do anything), I do my best not to impose on or be a nuisance to strangers. I pick my flights based on seat availability, and I choose my seat in advance with the expectation that I will sit in it. When I fly with my wife or with colleagues, if we can't get seats together, we sit apart. I don't exceed carry-on restrictions and store one in the overhead and the other under the seat in front of me. I don't bring smelly food on board, I don't have loud conversations and, because I prefer window seats, I do my level best not to disturb my seatmate by getting up often.

And that is all that I expect from strangers: do your best not to impose on me.

This has nothing to do with "ego gratification," nor am I an "anal control freak," because I don't want to indulge someone else's sense of entitlement.

A note on etiquette:

To just say "No, thank you!" is indeed rude and to pretend otherwise really is no good sign for someone's character or intelligence (to put it mildly). "No, thank you" is reserved for when somebody offers you something graciously, like a hot tea. It is not to be used when somebody asks for a favor as in this case. Asking for a favor implies a lowering of the asker and concedes power to the person asked. Saying NTY is demeaning and lowers the asker even further. It is hypocritical and almost mocking the asker because you are not being offered something but being asked something. Thus it is also semantically incorrect, hence my comment on intelligence.

The correct way to refuse granting the favor is to say something like: "I am sorry (that I cannot help you), but I'd rather stay in my seat."

This is the bare minimum. It would be better to indeed give a reason or offer some other kind of help, for example relocating luggage, in order to be civil and human. While those who refuse might say that they would never ask such a thing themselves and thus (do unto others...) have the reciprocal right to refuse, there is also the categorical imperative stating that your way of acting should be desirable as the basis for a universal law. In the western world (and in other worlds even more so) charity, unselfishness and helping people are higher values than insisting on your "rights" or convictions in a small case like the exchange of seats.
I was with you up until this last paragraph. I don't owe ANYONE an explanation. I sit in window seats because that is one of the ways I've found to effectively cope with a life long flying phobia. I have absolutely no intention of discussing anything so personal with a stranger who thinks their seating preferences should be more important to me than my own. You may ask, and I'll politely refuse. Period. If you have a true emergency, the YOU may explain and, if I agree that you have a valid reason for needing my seat, I will do my best to accommodate you.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 2:02 pm
  #78  
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Originally Posted by nerd View Post
Funny. I've never been asked, nor seen anyone else asked to switch seats, except in coach.
Happened to me just 12 days ago. Most of the seat-change requests that I see in F seem to come about as a result of last-minute upgrades.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 4:25 pm
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Had a funny request the other day on LHR-SIN on SQ in J. Lady walks up and asks if she can switch seats because quote "her husband is a pig and i cant stand sitting near him" to which i replied "great way to talk him up you could of said anything but that and i may have moved but not now"
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Old Feb 7, 09, 6:15 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
A note on etiquette:

To just say "No, thank you!" is indeed rude and to pretend otherwise really is no good sign for someone's character or intelligence (to put it mildly). "No, thank you" is reserved for when somebody offers you something graciously, like a hot tea. It is not to be used when somebody asks for a favor as in this case. Asking for a favor implies a lowering of the asker and concedes power to the person asked. Saying NTY is demeaning and lowers the asker even further. It is hypocritical and almost mocking the asker because you are not being offered something but being asked something. Thus it is also semantically incorrect, hence my comment on intelligence.

The correct way to refuse granting the favor is to say something like: "I am sorry (that I cannot help you), but I'd rather stay in my seat."
I agree that "No thank you" is not situationally correct, but to assign some sort of passive-aggressive motivation to it is stretching things just a bit. My guess is that most people who say "No thank you" in this situation mean nothing by it except "Sorry I don't want to switch seats with you". Personally, my average is probably a little north of 50% on granting the seat switch request, so when I do refuse it is for a good reason, not to "mock" the requestor.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 6:40 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
A note on etiquette:

To just say "No, thank you!" is indeed rude and to pretend otherwise really is no good sign for someone's character or intelligence (to put it mildly). "No, thank you" is reserved for when somebody offers you something graciously, like a hot tea. It is not to be used when somebody asks for a favor as in this case. Asking for a favor implies a lowering of the asker and concedes power to the person asked. Saying NTY is demeaning and lowers the asker even further. It is hypocritical and almost mocking the asker because you are not being offered something but being asked something. Thus it is also semantically incorrect, hence my comment on intelligence.

The correct way to refuse granting the favor is to say something like: "I am sorry (that I cannot help you), but I'd rather stay in my seat."

This is the bare minimum. It would be better to indeed give a reason or offer some other kind of help, for example relocating luggage, in order to be civil and human. While those who refuse might say that they would never ask such a thing themselves and thus (do unto others...) have the reciprocal right to refuse, there is also the categorical imperative stating that your way of acting should be desirable as the basis for a universal law. In the western world (and in other worlds even more so) charity, unselfishness and helping people are higher values than insisting on your "rights" or convictions in a small case like the exchange of seats.
Are you serious? Nobody has followed those "rules" of etiquette since Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to Elba. Etiquette is grounded in protocol, which in turn is based on historical, hierarchical relationships and class structures which have no context in modern history. The rules of etiquette are archaic rituals that require so much arcane knowledge that they are no longer applicable to every day life.

There is a vast difference between the "rules" of etiquette and common courtesy. One may be grounded in another and vice-versa, but it is too easy to use archaic rules of etiquette to act condescendingly towards those who choose not to follow them.

If asked, a favor may or may not be granted. It is not the place of anyone else but the two parties involved, namely the person requesting the favor and the person asked, to judge the merits of any decision made in the transactional context. Any favor, big or small, depends largely on the way in which it is posed, the situation and its merits.

There are too many people who use etiquette as a reason for self-righteous and selfish behavior. If a favor is refused, that refusal is not anyone else's business. Taking a plane trip is not an official occasion involving two heads of state. It is a period of time spent in a flying metal tube, and to apply such arcane nonsense as Emily Post or Miss Manners is approaching a reductio ad absurdum.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 8:57 pm
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Originally Posted by SamMarkand View Post
Are you serious? Nobody has followed those "rules" of etiquette since Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to Elba. Etiquette is grounded in protocol, which in turn is based on historical, hierarchical relationships and class structures which have no context in modern history. The rules of etiquette are archaic rituals that require so much arcane knowledge that they are no longer applicable to every day life.

There is a vast difference between the "rules" of etiquette and common courtesy. One may be grounded in another and vice-versa, but it is too easy to use archaic rules of etiquette to act condescendingly towards those who choose not to follow them.

If asked, a favor may or may not be granted. It is not the place of anyone else but the two parties involved, namely the person requesting the favor and the person asked, to judge the merits of any decision made in the transactional context. Any favor, big or small, depends largely on the way in which it is posed, the situation and its merits.

There are too many people who use etiquette as a reason for self-righteous and selfish behavior. If a favor is refused, that refusal is not anyone else's business. Taking a plane trip is not an official occasion involving two heads of state. It is a period of time spent in a flying metal tube, and to apply such arcane nonsense as Emily Post or Miss Manners is approaching a reductio ad absurdum.
Sam, I am totally serious. And people I frequent more often than not do follow these rules. That's one reason why I cherish their company. If you want to, you can replace the word etiquette by civil behavior or tactful manners. I concur, as does Emily Post in the relatively recent edition of her guide that I read cover to cover (have you?), that manners should be more than etiquette. They should be grounded in the context of a situation and in certain universally acceptable rules. I said so quite clearly. Actually, old fashioned etiquette would require anybody to not ask favors unless in a real emergency and in that case it would be considered very rude not to grant the favor. You are right, that the refusal of the favor is nobody's business except that of the concerned parties. I never said anything else, by the way.

There are obviously some arcane and formulaic rules of real etiquette but those don't apply here and I am not talking about those. Learning those from my godmother (wife of a French ambassador) was a real challenge and I am sure I forgot more than half of it. However, my comment on "No, thank you" being the entirely wrong thing to say and the civil and semantic reasons why it is wrong will not be disputed by anyone with a modicum of sense and education.

You are right also in that too many people use etiquette "as a reason for self-righteous and selfish behavior". Obviously, these people haven't understood the real sense behind what I mean with etiquette, namely rules for living together in a tolerant and considerate fashion. They also certainly are not really aware of old-style etiquette, either.

Since you mention class, the behavior of uneducated/rude people clearly denotes class. It does so not in a sense of socio-economic class (Americans measure class by money, Europeans measure class by education, behavior and contribution to society in more than financial ways), but in a sense of somebody being the proverbial "class act" because they have done something classy, like a grant and unselfish gesture. Saying NTY to somebody flat out for whatever reason does not denote classy behavior. If you have stringent reasons like claustrophobia or whatever you can still say "Sorry, I'd rather stay in my seat" and not give those reasons. But NTY is too harsh.

Finally, as I didn't fail to mention, I am by no means a totally unselfish person and certainly no saint or Mr. Manners, either. But the NTY crowd I talk about might even be worse off than I am. I might be re-born as a fly but others are re-born as a fly on dung.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 9:07 pm
  #83  
 
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Originally Posted by adelauro View Post
I agree that "No thank you" is not situationally correct, but to assign some sort of passive-aggressive motivation to it is stretching things just a bit. My guess is that most people who say "No thank you" in this situation mean nothing by it except "Sorry I don't want to switch seats with you".
Very true. Most people who'd say NTY in this situation probably do mean "Sorry, I don't want to switch seats". The problem is that's not what they are saying and that's not what the other person will feel when they hear NTY.

While this class of people fares better than the passive-aggressive crowd it goes to show how inconsiderate and unreflected we all are in dealing with our fellow human beings. Personally, I strive for betterment. What the others do I have no influence over.

That said, I really got a good laugh out of some humorous replies at the beginning like "Great, I already wet this one" or "Thank God, I thought I'd have to stay here". Even in real life, I'd prefer those to a NTY.
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Old Feb 8, 09, 5:36 am
  #84  
 
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Originally Posted by PTravel View Post
Of course not. I'm not responsible for someone else's child, nor am I responsible for insuring they sit together. If anyone is traveling for an emergency, I will always try to help. However, discretionary travel with children does not invest anyone with superior rights to my seat.
I do tend to agree with you, but I will tell you that when my children were babies we often booked tickets with the reservationist telling us that we would be given seats together when we arrived at the airport.

It is quite possible and common for people to book flights while being unaware that they aren't being given seats together.

I guess my point is that the airlines do contribute to this problem.
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Old Feb 8, 09, 8:09 am
  #85  
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Originally Posted by Rebelyell View Post
I do tend to agree with you, but I will tell you that when my children were babies we often booked tickets with the reservationist telling us that we would be given seats together when we arrived at the airport.

It is quite possible and common for people to book flights while being unaware that they aren't being given seats together.

I guess my point is that the airlines do contribute to this problem.
It's unfortunate (actually outrageous) that the airlines lied to you that way. Though I have no responsibility for parents traveling with children, the airline absolutely and unquestionably does. The point, though, is that it is the airline who is culpable in such a situation, not the other passengers. I would think that the correct chain of events should be that the parents direct their ire at the airline (gate agent or station manager), the airline may move then move a seated passenger to another seat, at which point the seated passenger may direct his ire at the airline. It should never be a direct parent-to-strange-passenger. In practice, however, I would probably consider this a sufficient "emergency" to try to accommodate the parents, if I could. Note, however, that I think being lied to like this is quite a different situation than the parents who knowingly book seats apart expecting others to switch, or even parents who are subject to irregular operations which are part-and-parcel of flying and should be anticipated.

This is why an explanation from the person requesting the seat switch is important, at least to me. I'll generally try to help someone who is genuinely in need of assistance. I will almost never, however, assist someone who demands my help as an entitlement.
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Old Feb 8, 09, 9:11 am
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
A little anthropological note:

I think (while not being entirely unselfish in my decision process) a lot of people on this thread are anal control freaks with a severe and unjustified sense of entitlement and a small spirit who just jump at the chance to stick it to somebody for the sheer gratification of their egos. It is the other side of the coin in the US where a ton of people will go really out of their way to help a stranger and ask for nothing in return. In Europe both kinds of extreme behaviors are rarer.

A note on etiquette:

To just say "No, thank you!" is indeed rude and to pretend otherwise really is no good sign for someone's character or intelligence (to put it mildly). "No, thank you" is reserved for when somebody offers you something graciously, like a hot tea. It is not to be used when somebody asks for a favor as in this case. Asking for a favor implies a lowering of the asker and concedes power to the person asked. Saying NTY is demeaning and lowers the asker even further. It is hypocritical and almost mocking the asker because you are not being offered something but being asked something. Thus it is also semantically incorrect, hence my comment on intelligence.

The correct way to refuse granting the favor is to say something like: "I am sorry (that I cannot help you), but I'd rather stay in my seat."

This is the bare minimum. It would be better to indeed give a reason or offer some other kind of help, for example relocating luggage, in order to be civil and human. While those who refuse might say that they would never ask such a thing themselves and thus (do unto others...) have the reciprocal right to refuse, there is also the categorical imperative stating that your way of acting should be desirable as the basis for a universal law. In the western world (and in other worlds even more so) charity, unselfishness and helping people are higher values than insisting on your "rights" or convictions in a small case like the exchange of seats.
I agree with every word you have said.

For me, the reply of "No, thank you." when denying a request is the equivalent of saying "Yup," in place of "You're welcome." This is totally unacceptable and in some cases quite rude.

Somewhat OT, I have some colleagues who habitually replace "Best regards" with "BR" in emails; this is in effect worse than not writing "Best regards" at all. If you have to abbreviate it, are they really your "best" regards? In that case, can you not even be bothered to type a measly ten extra characters?

I heard a quote recently which rings especially true (I'll paraphrase): A true test of manners is not how you deal with good manners, but how you deal with bad manners.

How true.
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Old Feb 8, 09, 2:46 pm
  #87  
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I think (while not being entirely unselfish in my decision process) a lot of people on this thread are anal control freaks with a severe and unjustified sense of entitlement and a small spirit who just jump at the chance to stick it to somebody for the sheer gratification of their egos.
I couldn't agree more. That's exactly how I feel about people who think they have some sort of right to my assigned seat.
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Old Feb 8, 09, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
Sam, I am totally serious. And people I frequent more often than not do follow these rules. That's one reason why I cherish their company. If you want to, you can replace the word etiquette by civil behavior or tactful manners. I concur, as does Emily Post in the relatively recent edition of her guide that I read cover to cover (have you?), that manners should be more than etiquette. They should be grounded in the context of a situation and in certain universally acceptable rules. I said so quite clearly. Actually, old fashioned etiquette would require anybody to not ask favors unless in a real emergency and in that case it would be considered very rude not to grant the favor. You are right, that the refusal of the favor is nobody's business except that of the concerned parties. I never said anything else, by the way.

There are obviously some arcane and formulaic rules of real etiquette but those don't apply here and I am not talking about those. Learning those from my godmother (wife of a French ambassador) was a real challenge and I am sure I forgot more than half of it. However, my comment on "No, thank you" being the entirely wrong thing to say and the civil and semantic reasons why it is wrong will not be disputed by anyone with a modicum of sense and education.

You are right also in that too many people use etiquette "as a reason for self-righteous and selfish behavior". Obviously, these people haven't understood the real sense behind what I mean with etiquette, namely rules for living together in a tolerant and considerate fashion. They also certainly are not really aware of old-style etiquette, either.

Since you mention class, the behavior of uneducated/rude people clearly denotes class. It does so not in a sense of socio-economic class (Americans measure class by money, Europeans measure class by education, behavior and contribution to society in more than financial ways), but in a sense of somebody being the proverbial "class act" because they have done something classy, like a grant and unselfish gesture. Saying NTY to somebody flat out for whatever reason does not denote classy behavior. If you have stringent reasons like claustrophobia or whatever you can still say "Sorry, I'd rather stay in my seat" and not give those reasons. But NTY is too harsh.

Finally, as I didn't fail to mention, I am by no means a totally unselfish person and certainly no saint or Mr. Manners, either. But the NTY crowd I talk about might even be worse off than I am. I might be re-born as a fly but others are re-born as a fly on dung.
You just proved my point by taking the extra time to ask "have you?" Whether or not I have read Emily Post or any other book on etiquette is not the point. Any time you point to a book of artificially constructed rules that historically were used to enforce class distinctions, you essentially admit that you are either living in the past or choosing to ignore modern conventions. In current American English vernacular, "No thank you" is considered a socially acceptable phrase when refusing a favor. Language is a living construct, not a dead refuge of unused or forgotten phrases.

I honestly do not care whether or not you learned archaic etiquette from the wife of a French ambassador or the son of a Tutsi chief. Those rules are archaic and have no place except in the enforcement of protocol that would be scarcely be expected in the public transportation conveyance of an airplane flight.

Both of my parents were born of the highest social strata of their countries of origin, but when they moved to the United States they put all of that class and social hierarchy behind them. In case you forgot, Americans went through several wars to ensure that we were culturally distinct from our European ancestors. They rejected those social hierarchies for a reason, and yet here we are bashed over the head with useless protocol and nonsense even to this day. Millions of immigrants moved her to get away from that, not to have it constantly pushed waved in the faces every time someone wished to enforce rhetoric they found objectionable by archaic standards.

I do not judge a person by a single event, but by the totality of circumstances. To do otherwise is shallow and superficial.
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Old Feb 8, 09, 3:35 pm
  #89  
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I always ask where the persons seat is and evaluate on the spot if it's a better seat than my current selection or not. If it is a seat of "equal value" I am usually a nice guy. If it is a terrible seat swap a simple "No thank you" usually does the trick.

If a FA/purser asks me (and I am nearly always in premium cabins) I tend to switch more willingly, as they will be grateful and I get better service. Simple as that !
(Last time I switched on LH F I got a bottle of wine to take home on top of the double helping of caviar as I solved some major discussion with another pax)
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Old Feb 9, 09, 10:43 am
  #90  
 
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"No, thank you" and "no problem"

Hmm... I'll admit I've used that more out of common usage than out of really thinking of its implications when refusing a request. The points brought up are interesting - I will probably avoid its usage in the future under those circumstances.

My favorite usage peeve, however, is "no problem" instead of "you're welcome". In my mind it both:
- Unnecessarily implies that the favor granted could have been an imposition (a "problem) . If it really was, there are other ways to express it "("well, it was a challenge, but ...)- if it wasn't, why even bring up the possibility?

- Diminishes the actual favor done, to the disadvantage of the one who did it - instead of "it was a pleasure to have been able to help" it says "it wasn't a problem for me to do it." - to me, the latter seems somewhat less "points-worthy" than the former.

Just thoughts. YMMV.

Alec in PVD
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