Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

When not wanting to change seats gets ugly: DFW-LAX, Friday night, 8-26-11

When not wanting to change seats gets ugly: DFW-LAX, Friday night, 8-26-11

Old Aug 28, 11, 8:41 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 11
When not wanting to change seats gets ugly: DFW-LAX, Friday night, 8-26-11

Hope you don't mind a story from a relative newbie. I've trolled these forums for awhile but never really had any good stories to share. I have one now. This will be therapeutic for me because I need to share it with people that can relate. I'll be as brief as possible because frankly there's no huge payoff at the end - no punches were thrown (though they were threatened).

Quick background: I fly AA pretty exclusively, and as an ExecPlat I get upgraded most of the time. I've noticed that seat-changing goes on far more in the first class cabin than it does in coach - I figure because by the time upgrades clear at the gate there are often no longer two seats together, so people get split up. I get asked quite a lot to change seats to accommodate people that want to sit together - it happens about once every three flights (seems like it anyway - it's probably more like one in ten).

Now, here's my thing about changing seats when asked. Like most people I prefer aisle seats. If someone asks me to change to another aisle - glad to do it. If someone asks me to change to a window, I'll still do it though I'd rather not. But I'm 6'2", and as such I hate sitting in the bulkhead because of the lack of legroom (plus I like to keep stuff under my seat and of course you can't do that in the front row). So if someone asks me to change to a bulkhead seat, what I'll do first is try to see if the other person in the bulkhead will come move next to me, then the folks asking me to move can sit together in the bulkhead. Usually this works with no problem. Usually. [And if the other bulkhead person won't move, I'll do it. I wouldn't keep people from sitting together just for a little extra convenience for myself.]

There are two families I'll be discussing in the story. I don't know their names so I'll call one the NW Family (NW = Nice Woman) and the other the DB family (the B stands for Bag, the D can stand for "Dirt" or anything else you might think of ).

I was flying home from Dallas to LA this past Friday night, ticketed in seat 4E in First Class (2nd row aisle). I was the first one seated. People are filtering in. NW comes on with her mom and teenage daughter and very nicely lets me know she's in the window (4F), so I get up and let her in. She thanks me profusely, and I crack my usual joke about how she's a horrible person for having the audacity to ask to be let into her seat . After she gets settled in, she turns around and starts talking to her mom, who's seated directly behind me in 5E. Figuring the two probably want to sit together, I ask her if she'd like me to switch seats with her mom. I can barely finish the sentence when she says "oh that would be so nice, thank you so much," etc. I switch and am now in 5E. NW turns around again and thanks me profusely for changing. I tell her I'm glad to do it, I'll always change unless someone asks me to move to the bulkhead (oops) ...

... almost as if on cue, about a minute later the DB family comes on board (parents & two little kids). Mrs. DB comes back to me and says "excuse me, would you mind changing seats and sitting up there?" (pointing to 3E - the dreaded bulkhead). Now, let me say right now that I NEVER SAID NO. I mean, there's no way I was going to make a little kid sit far from one of their parents, so if I HAD to move I would have. All I did was make a distressed face and say "well I'd really rather not, but ..." at which point Mrs. DB cuts me off and says "well it's that or listen to little kids cry for three hours, your choice." Now I'm trying to help the DBs, so I stand up and say to NW "maybe she (pointing to NW's daughter, who's in 3F) can move back here?" NW asks her daughter if she'll do it and of course she said yes. So she gets up to move back next to me. End of story, right? Uhhh, no.

As Mrs. DB passes by me with her daughter (on her way back to Coach) she starts giving me grief about not moving, saying things like "Mr. spoiled FIRST CLASS won't move to help out little kids" - she used the term "first class" a few more times, as if I'm supposed to feel guilty about sitting there. I turn back around; NW was watching this in shock and I turn back around and say to her "I think I just got some attitude!" Now, Mr. DB hears this (he's sitting in 3F - just to paint the picture, imagine a Jeff Foxworthy-looking guy with more facial hair and no sense of humor) and turns around to say something to me. I don't remember what it was but it made me think that he thought I was talking about him. So I say, "no, not you, her (pointing behind me in Mrs. DB's direction)." Mr. DB then points angrily at me and says "hey, that's my WIFE!" (he says it as if I've just insulted her lineage). He then starts jawing at me like she was, saying "we offer you a perfectly good seat and you won't take it", etc. I'm not interested in engaging in an argument across the cabin so I mostly just let him vent. But the whole time I'm thinking "what did I DO?!?"

[Now in fairness, clearly the family was having issues. It was an 11 p.m. flight, the kids were NOT in a good mood, and at one point before we took off Mrs. DB comes up to talk to her husband and she's crying hysterically. So they were not having a good night. They were frustrated, they needed someone to take it out on, there I was.]

The rest of the flight was uneventful. Even after the flight landed Mr. DB was waiting with his son while I passed. He didn't say a word. It was only at baggage claim that things got interesting. I was waiting a long time for my bag to come out. At one point I looked to my right and caught the eye of Mr. DB. About two minutes later I'm tooling around on my iPhone and suddenly hear his voice to my left:

"Hey, [gay slur beginning with F]!"

(Wow, you teach your kids that kind of language? I ignore him)

"Hey, chowd!"

(What makes this guy think I'm from Boston? And what was with that F-slur anyway? Are we back in the 80's when that word was borderline acceptable as an insult?)

"Hey you f***ing [same gay slur]! You, the guy playing with your phone! I know you can hear me!"

So now I figure this guy isn't going to leave it alone so I turn to him. He starts going off on me.

"Way to treat little kids in first class!"

(Again with the "first class" thing. I guess if I sat in Coach it wouldn't have been a big deal).

As he's walking away from me with his bags he goes "you should watch your back - we're in L.A. now, things get taken care of here!"

(Huh? So now you're going to put a hit out on me? This is L.A., so maybe a drive-by or something??)

"Maybe I'll take care of it myself outside!" (So now it's come down to "let's take this outside"? Do people still do that? What exactly is "this" anyway??).

I just smiled at him and said "Have a nice night", not wanting to deal with this DB any further. If I'd been in more of a confrontational mood, I'd have given him kudos for taking the First Class seat while sending his wife back to Coach (I mean does it get any classier than that?)

So ... that's the end of the story, really. To recapitulate (or "recap", as the kids say these days): because I didn't immediately comply with the request of these lovely people, I was (a) chewed out repeatedly, (b) my life was threatened, and (c) I was challenged to a fight.

If you've read this far - thanks for listening! I certainly feel better.

Last edited by jaybag; Aug 29, 11 at 12:33 am Reason: Fixed italics
jaybag is offline  
Old Aug 28, 11, 9:15 pm
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: SDF
Programs: former Olympic Airways Gold (yeah - still proud of that!)
Posts: 13,579
wow - sorry to hear your story.

you did everything you could.

no excuse for mr DB or mrs DB to behave the way they did. you acknowledge they might have had a difficult day... but that is very generous of you!
LHR/MEL/Europe FF is offline  
Old Aug 28, 11, 10:15 pm
  #3  
Used to be 'g_leyser'
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Land of Lightfoot
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K, AA PlatPro, HH Dia, Bonvoy Gold, IHG Gold, Reno Air MEGA Platinum
Posts: 9,701
I must commend you on being as calm as you were. I think you handled the situation very well.
I must admit, I may not have been able to bite my tongue.
aisleorwindow is offline  
Old Aug 28, 11, 10:20 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 25
Wow! Really, he left his wife in coach?? Speaks volumes...
sunnygirlca is offline  
Old Aug 28, 11, 10:22 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: DFW
Programs: AA EXP; A3 Gold; Marriott LPP Ambassador; Hyatt Globalist; IHG Plat; National VIP
Posts: 2,518
So sorry you had to experience that, such species as Mr. DB should not be allowed to reproduce or let out in public. Disgusting.
asnovici is offline  
Old Aug 28, 11, 10:38 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: WAS
Programs: AMEX Platinum, Global Entry, Priority Pass, SPG Gold, HHonors Gold
Posts: 1,593
If all travelers were like the OP we would never again have violent confrontations. Being able to retain ones composure is impressive yet necessary.
14940674 is offline  
Old Aug 28, 11, 10:54 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: SFO
Programs: UA--no longer 2P as of 3/2012 and don't even care. Never thought I'd say that.
Posts: 756
Congratulations.

You handled yourself better than most. Mr. DB on the other hand earned his moniker and then some.
janehoya is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 12:32 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 11
Originally Posted by 14940674 View Post
If all travelers were like the OP we would never again have violent confrontations. Being able to retain ones composure is impressive yet necessary.
Very kind of you to say so, 149! I appreciate your support as well as everyone else's here. The only other wrinkle to the story is that in the initial confusion it's possible the family didn't notice that I was trying to help them out, and to them I was just a guy who didn't care about separating a kid from his parent, he just didn't want to move. If that's the case, I can maybe see why they were upset. But the thing at baggage claim was crazy. I mean, I told my dad the story tonight, mentioning the F-slur, and he said "I haven't heard that word used in about 20 years." Exactly.

Sunnygirlca - yep, that's exactly what he did. Strangely enough that's not the first time I've seen that kind of thing happen either. I was on a flight a few years ago where the husband took his FC seat and left his wife and kids in Coach. I only know this because early in the flight the harried wife came into the FC cabin and started yelling at her husband: "You need to get back there and start taking care of your children!"
jaybag is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 12:49 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Programs: QFF Gold, Flying Blue, Enrich
Posts: 5,370
This is a horrible experience, made worse by the fact that the DBs couldn't have been more wrong about you - as demonstrated by the way you helped the NWs.

I can't add anything really, except to say that I hope by venting here it's got it out of your system. I don't believe that I would have managed to react as calmly as you did, particularly with Mr DB provoking you the way he did after you landed. Congratulations on handling the situation in this manner.
BadgerBoi is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 12:57 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: TPE, LAX
Programs: LH Senator, IHG Plat, Hilton Gold
Posts: 592
Wow! I admire the way you handle things! Maybe I am more hotheaded, but last time sitting in LH Y from MUC-ORD, when reclining, an old grumpy lady from Russia violently shoved my seatback back into upright position and screamed at me, berated me that I can't sleep since it's not business class.

Whoa~

lets just say, after the FAs took care of it, I reclined fully, right in front of the FAs, and gave her a death stare and a smirk, and for the rest of the flight, for other silly issues of hers, she literally spend all the cruising time at the back of the plane.

Kudos to you!
flyhen is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 1:04 am
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 11
Originally Posted by BadgerBoi View Post
I can't add anything really, except to say that I hope by venting here it's got it out of your system.
It did, BB! I hate to admit it but the guy got in my kitchen. The entire drive home that night I was going over things I wish I'd said to him. Then I thought "I should post this on FlyerTalk and purge the demons!!" And here we are.

You folks are all making me feel almost like a saint here, but honestly I think the majority of people (and the overwhelming majority of people that post here, since this community is very polite and considerate) would change seats when asked. In fact, most people would probably even move to the bulkhead without thinking! Guess that's where I fall short
jaybag is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 1:10 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 946
well done for staying so calm.
If that had have been myself at that time of night (more than likely would have had a few beers by then) I'd certainly not have been so passive!
vecta is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 1:21 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Programs: QFF Gold, Flying Blue, Enrich
Posts: 5,370
Originally Posted by jaybag View Post
It did, BB! I hate to admit it but the guy got in my kitchen. The entire drive home that night I was going over things I wish I'd said to him. Then I thought "I should post this on FlyerTalk and purge the demons!!" And here we are.

You folks are all making me feel almost like a saint here, but honestly I think the majority of people (and the overwhelming majority of people that post here, since this community is very polite and considerate) would change seats when asked. In fact, most people would probably even move to the bulkhead without thinking! Guess that's where I fall short
Well, I make it a policy not to change seats when asked, so maybe you are a saint!

Thinking more about the behaviour upon landing, I would have likely fallen for Mr DB's trap, lost my temper andretaliated verbally, it would have turned into a shouting match and I would have come to the attention of security - DB would have got what he wanted and I would have ended up in trouble. So again, well done for the great way you handled it.
BadgerBoi is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 1:27 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
IHG Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Valley of the Sun
Programs: AA PLT, Bonvoy PLT +, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 10,966
At times the best way to deal with the DBs of this world is to just laught it off and walk away, since you didn't give them what they wanted in the frist place.

Originally Posted by g_leyser View Post
I must commend you on being as calm as you were. I think you handled the situation very well.
I must admit, I may not have been able to bite my tongue.
FlightNurse is offline  
Old Aug 29, 11, 1:28 am
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
IHG Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Valley of the Sun
Programs: AA PLT, Bonvoy PLT +, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 10,966
I think I would have reminded him that a true gentlemen would have allowed his wife to sit in FC and not him.

Originally Posted by BadgerBoi View Post
Well, I make it a policy not to change seats when asked, so maybe you are a saint!

Thinking more about the behaviour upon landing, I would have likely fallen for Mr DB's trap, lost my temper andretaliated verbally, it would have turned into a shouting match and I would have come to the attention of security - DB would have got what he wanted and I would have ended up in trouble. So again, well done for the great way you handled it.
FlightNurse is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread