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Do I need to give up my seat/center row, so that a crew member can sleep in it?

Do I need to give up my seat/center row, so that a crew member can sleep in it?

Old Mar 3, 13, 7:42 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Berlin
Programs: UA MP Gold
Posts: 170
Do I need to give up my seat/center row, so that a crew member can sleep in it?

About myself, I am a Premier Silver going for Gold this year and fly on my own dime, mostly international long haul.


Tuesday at EWR, waiting for UA 968 to MUC. We are all called to see the gate agent to confirm our seats. I have 41 F on this 767, last center row, which I assigned myself via the website just the day before. The gate agent confirms my seat and that nobody else is in that row. This is only my 2nd ever flight on a 767 and my first in economy on that type of plane.

Once they start boarding group 2, I head straight to my seat, take my book and a couple of other things out, put the bag in the overhead and am seated reading within 10 seconds. A few minutes later, a male flight attendant asks me from the left aisle if my seat assignment is in that row and I confirm this. Right away, I get this feeling that something is not right/up but I keep reading my book. Shortly after that, a number of female flight attendants appear in the right aisle telling me to change my seat, without giving the reason but I have a good feeling why (I was later told there was no time (!)). I mildly protest, saying the gate agent confirmed it (I am told that she was Continental and didn't know any better and they are the United crew and were told that the row was empty. Wouldn't it be nice if they would stop playing this UA against CO game?).

It is obvious that I don't wish to move but to them it does not matter (I am later told I could have refused. I always follow the crew instructions. Where does it start & where does it end? Which requests can I refuse in a post 9/11 world? This is very confusing). I make a comment about a business class seat as an obvious joke (they will later hold this against me). Nobody asks to see my BP; they just want me gone from that row, it is obvious. They are verbally 'selling' me a seat some 20 rows ahead I cannot see in a cabin I don't know well. The German FA states "oh look, you have the whole row!" (This is not true, there is someone sitting in the other aisle seat and as it is an exit row - 21 F - with immovable arm rests - what does it matter anyway?). I take my things without a further word and go there while everyone is already seated, like a bit of a 'walk of shame'. Nobody comes by and asks if I'm happy with the seat (I am not. I just can't get much rest with the normal recline).

At the first opportunity, when the drinks cart comes around I voice my displeasure about the whole thing. I also mention that I have status and I flew 32K miles with UA in the month of February and ask if this is how they normally wrestle extra crew rest space from the passengers. The FA who showed me the seat makes a face and says very curtly that I should move back and they don't want me to be unhappy for the whole flight, but how can I with the drinks cart in the aisle, followed by the empty cups collecting cart and the dinner cart. When I make it back after the dinner service, head rest paper protectors have been placed over every seat in the center row and marked "Crew". I'm obviously not removing those and sitting there again. Later, a female FA with long blonde hair sleeps in the aisle.

Mid-flight, I ask for the chief-purser to discuss the situation and find out if this is the usual MO. I am told she is on break. A couple of hours later, a female FA (coincidentally, with long blonde hair) and the German female FA appear next to my seat and a - for me - disappointing conversation ensues. I am treated as if I had never flown on UA before. "You know people pay extra for these (eco +) seats". [I had flown LAX - SIN earlier in the month and had sat in E+ for every single leg - I didn't tell them this though]. I stress my point that they blatantly ignored how I felt about the whole thing. The low point comes when the CP tells me to take the seat back now (there are only about 2.5 hours flight time left at this point). They keep pretending it is about the seat only, when it really is about having the whole row and the chance of getting some shut eye. They talk my choice of seat assignment down as if I didn't know it has its disadvantages (flushing sounds from the nearby lav's, people lining up for toilets). I tell them that if I assign myself a seat I will live with the consequences and I was fine with all of this. This seems to be a new idea to them - you think seatguru & flyertalk.com have never happened!

They try to sell me the idea that the row had to be kept open due to possible turbulence (very open it was kept, with the female crew member sleeping across all 3 seats on her back!). The BS served by the CP was incredible. I ask for confirmation in writing on back of boarding pass that I was asked to move to a different seat and I am told that in return a full report would be made noting I was told several times to re-take my original seat and I asked for a business class seat; things depicting me as a problem passenger when all I had wanted was to be left alone in my original seat.

In the end, I have a final "input session" in the back galley, and we change subjects a bit and manage to bring it to a good close. The CP now keeps asking me if they can do anything for me? After the "we will say you wanted a biz seat" comment just a few minutes earlier, I am just amazed they would do this and say nothing. I shake hands with the male FA, who I felt had done nothing wrong. Upon landing and leaving the plane the CP apologizes and I lean in and half-whisper "you know, I think it was you sleeping in that row", both as a light-hearted close but I find it very likely as well.

Still, if this is what I can expect from UA, I am tempted to move my business elsewhere.

My question to the board is, should I report this to the airline? I really don't want anything but not a repeat of this ever.

Last edited by Freebird; Mar 3, 13 at 8:04 am
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Old Mar 3, 13, 7:57 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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IMO, you should absolutely report this. I would start with a phone call and go to a supervisor and see where this goes. I would fill out the survey when they send it post flight. I would also send a email to a bunch of relevant people on this list: http://www.unitedcontinentalholdings...age=leadership. It has worked for me before, someone "just might" reply. First Name . [email protected].

Best of luck - sorry that you had this experience

Also, IME, stay calm,measured and point out the facts and you may have success

Last edited by ilovesprint; Mar 3, 13 at 8:00 am Reason: edit
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Old Mar 3, 13, 8:01 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
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As soon as the drink cart came by and they told you that they would allow you to return to the seat you wanted you should have made your move. Getting by the cart is possible, and usually they will accommodate you if you ask nicely. IMO, you spent way too much time dealing with this issue on the plane and again on here. Obviously they wanted that row for Crew Rest and made up a story to get you out of there, but once they caved in after seeing that you weren't happy you had the chance, and should have taken it. Although the "Crew Rest" sign was on the seat back, you were told that you could sit/lay down there. BTW, seats are not guaranteed as has been discussed many times on here and f/a's can and do move people around. Not saying that you didn't get screwed out of your desired seat, but what are you wanting at this point? Report them if you wish, and good luck with that!
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Old Mar 3, 13, 8:06 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by LilAbner View Post
IMO, you spent way too much time dealing with this issue on the plane and again on here.
SMH - OP is clearly asking if anyone else has had this happen, where else should he do this? United.com?

This is a customer service issue again for United. There are ways of handling this professionally, and from the OP's report, it sounds like they didn't. I am sure United has a different view.

Last edited by ilovesprint; Mar 3, 13 at 8:08 am Reason: edit
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Old Mar 3, 13, 8:20 am
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Originally Posted by Freebird View Post
Still, if this is what I can expect from UA, I am tempted to move my business elsewhere.

My question to the board is, should I report this to the airline? I really don't want anything but not a repeat of this ever.
Originally Posted by ilovesprint View Post
SMH - OP is clearly asking if anyone else has had this happen, where else should he do this? United.com?

This is a customer service issue again for United. There are ways of handling this professionally, and from the OP's report, it sounds like they didn't. I am sure United has a different view.
Actually he is asking if he should report this to UA and I replied that he certainly could if he wished. However, imo he was told that he could take his assigned seat when the drink cart came by and he continued his campaign the entire flight without doing so. Again, they obviously wanted that row for "Crew Rest" and manufactured a story to get him out of there. Making a big deal out of it is certainly something the Op is entitled to do, and I'm sure that he thanks you for your support!
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Old Mar 3, 13, 8:24 am
  #6  
 
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IMO, Much ado about nothing.
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Old Mar 3, 13, 8:34 am
  #7  
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LilAbner, I am just not one to jump over drinks carts to get what I want. The FA sounded insincere to me and I was unsure about the outcome if I took the seat back and I tend not to ignore instructions and signs - is that not how things should be?

Yes, it is about much ado about nothing but I feel my original question remains valid. How does UA feel about creating an additional rest area in this manner?
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Old Mar 3, 13, 8:49 am
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Originally Posted by Freebird View Post
LilAbner, I am just not one to jump over drinks carts to get what I want. The FA sounded insincere to me and I was unsure about the outcome if I took the seat back and I tend not to ignore instructions and signs - is that not how things should be?

Yes, it is about much ado about nothing but I feel my original question remains valid. How does UA feel about creating an additional rest area in this manner?
Write them and ask!
Good luck!

BTW, if I knew that there was a row that I could have ALL TO MYSELF and I was told that I could now have it, believe me, I'd get past that cart just as fast as I would if nature was suddenly calling!!

Go for it, and again good luck getting something in return for your inquiry. I frankly don't know if the F/A's were permitted to conjure up a b.s. story, but if it really, really is something that you need to know, by all means write them and ask.
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Old Mar 3, 13, 9:06 am
  #9  
 
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I believe 41KL are reserved for flight attendants. However, just like pax, they want certain seats. And sadly, some make comments like OP is stating. OP should not have been moved from the row, as those are seats open for sale.
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Old Mar 3, 13, 9:19 am
  #10  
 
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Freebird, I'm sorry to make this comparison but I'm reminded of the time my god-daughter got upset with me at bedtime, not because she wouldn't brush her teeth, but because I asked her to do it in the wrong way... a 20 minute argument ensued and nothing I could say would placate the tired little toddler.

As I read your story, I really understood why the FA's were so bewildered. Also, they weren't lying when they said that there was no time to inform you why they wanted you to move. Predeparture is an extremely busy time for an FA and on time departure depends on them getting every single passenger situated and strapped in. I do understand your confusion about which orders to follow and which to question... this seems like one where a simple and direct "do i have a choice in this matter" would evoke a clear and quick yes or no.

Don't take the FA being a little curt with you personally. She was probably more miffed at the GA for violating the row that they set aside. She was even ready to relinquish it because of the mistake... it was unfortunate but she was being, I'm sure gracious as she could be under what were disappointing circumstances all the way around.

I think you should take a deep breath and realize that you may have well handled this poorly by not just taking care of your own comfort. I mean, honestly... carrying this discussion on and on, into the galley and right up until you left the dang plane? That's pretty much the definition of tedious in my book. Especially when you were told, just take it!
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Old Mar 3, 13, 9:19 am
  #11  
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This was also were the confusion arose for me as they kept saying these seats were blocked/left open, yet anyone can reserve them, creating a foreseeable conflict.

Hadrian, how do you know the FAs were 'bewildered'?

It is obvious that "there was no time to explain the reason to you" was pure BS as the reason was "one of our crew wants to sleep in the row and we will give you a seat in which you won't be able to" instead - and that would certainly not have sounded very good.

Last edited by Freebird; Mar 3, 13 at 9:58 am
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Old Mar 3, 13, 9:51 am
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They explained to you repeatedly why they thought they were giving you a better product (E+) and you went on and on and on without just taking the seat back. Why wouldn't they be bewildered?.. now you want to carry this to FT and maybe to MP complaints.

and it still boils down to they still didn't ask you to move in the correct manner.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 3, 13, 10:04 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Is a pet peeve of min. Working crew will often ask me as a CS agent to "block out" a row, usually the back, so they can use it IN ADDITION to ther official rst areas. My answer (which des not endear me to them) is that I will give each customer as they come up, the best seat tey are entitled to, or that they request, and whatever is lft over at th end will remain open for their use. They reply "noone wants a seat nearth back" to which I reply "If it is an open row, and aisle or a window, many do. Also some people have needs that make them want to be near a bathroom."

Not saying this is what happened, but I see it alot. They'll ask me to move people out of those seats for them to use, even offering premium seats that thy should be paying for. This isn't considered an "operational need" so I see no reason to give away a premium product for free, unless of course the flight attendant pays for the E+ seat for the passenger, and the passenger agrees.

I have no problem with them having extra seats to themselves if space allows, but I'm not going to take a person away from a seat that they have 1st dibs on, unlss their is an operational need, not a want by someone who has less right to it than the person who selcted it.

On the other hand, unless you purchased an extra seat, your morale high ground isn't quite there, where you want a whole row and moveable arm rests. I assume that is so you can do the same thing the flight attendants want to do, and take multiple seats. Unless you buy an extra seat, no matter where your are seated, you don't have claim to the unused seats around you over anyone else, be it another passenger, a musical instrument, or a crew member on break. I mean, in theory they could sit down in the unassigned seat next to you, in which case you would have no gripe and would most likely have been less satisfied with your seat than the options they presented to you.

Last edited by fastair; Mar 3, 13 at 10:50 am Reason: Add last line
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Old Mar 3, 13, 10:13 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by Freebird View Post
About myself, I am a Premier Silver going for Gold this year and fly on my own dime, mostly international long haul.


"You know people pay extra for these (eco +) seats". [I had flown LAX - SIN earlier in the month and had sat in E+ for every single leg - I didn't tell them this though].
Why didn't you tell them? You should have told them that your are premier and you are entitled to free E+ seats but you prefer the back row.
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Old Mar 3, 13, 10:27 am
  #15  
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At the risk of sounding insincere, I find the original post way too long to describe the actual situation. I'm sure it was really annoying. But the post makes it seem epic!

Let me add that if we are honest, no one is truly ever joking about a business class seat. Even when we mention it tongue in cheek, a smal part of us really hopes we get it.
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