British tourists warned over ‘unacceptable’ seat switching on flights

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Budget airlines won’t let people choose their seat without paying extra. Unfortunately this means that some travellers will try to switch seats with other passengers once they’re on the plane.

Nicky Kelvin, travel expert and head of the Points Guy, told when it’s appropriate to ask another passenger to switch seats. He said it might be “acceptable” in some cases.

Nicky said: “When discussing inflight etiquette, one of the most commonly raised concerns is the debate surrounding seat-switching. Whilst some passengers are comfortable with a seat rearrangement, it can be an inconvenience for others.

“As long as you’re not limited by security or safety concerns of the airline you’re travelling with, there are some general unspoken rules with seat switching, the main one being that only better or equivalent changes should be offered.

“For example, asking to move to an aisle seat, because you want to sit closer to your party and offering another aisle seat in exchange is generally acceptable.”

Swapping an aisle seat for another aisle seat would usually be seen as an acceptable seat exchange on a flight. Many passengers would be happy to make this switch.

But this won’t always be the case and passengers will need to be aware that not every offer will be seen as travelling good etiquette.

Nicky said: “However, instances such as requesting another’s window seat but offering a middle seat in return without a compelling excuse is generally unacceptable.”

The middle seat is generally known as the worst seat on the plane and will usually be the last to be chosen when passengers select their seats. It is very unlikely that another traveller would agree to swap their aisle or window seat for another passenger’s middle seat.

Nicky warned: “Passengers should also be able to accept that sometimes the answer may be ‘no’ and stick with their original purchase seat rather than complain, as you never know what your fellow passengers may be feeling, or their reasons for their particular seat choice.”

Some passengers will pay for the window seat as it helps them to deal with flying nausea or cope with a phobia of flying.

Tall travellers will often choose the aisle seat as it offers more legroom on the majority of planes. In these cases, the passengers are unlikely to want to swap seats.

A six-year-old boy was recently left in tears after he was unable to sit in the seat his mother had pre-booked on a Ryanair flight. The child wanted to sit by the window as he struggles with flying and is “very reactive”.

His mother said she asked the woman to switch from the seat she had booked for her son but an IT glitch had meant the seat had been double booked.

The woman refused to switch seats with the boy and he was allocated another seat on the plane but his mother said he was in tears for the three hour journey.

In an incident shared on Reddit, a man said he had refused to switch seats with a mother and baby on his flight. The man had paid for an extra legroom seat in the front row and the woman wanted him to switch with her husband in the second row.

Although a member of the cabin crew was able to find the man another seat in the front row, he was left angered by the experience. His story divided opinion between other travellers.

While some the man should have moved to accommodate the woman’s request, others said it was totally unreasonable for her to expect the man to move to the second row.

Ryanair recently upset some travellers after they discovered the window seat they booked didn’t actually have a window. Passengers should never book seats 11A, 11F or 12F if they want to see out the window.

These seats will actually be against the plane’s wall without a window to look out of although passengers will still have more room than the middle seat passenger. Ryanair does warn passengers the seats don’t have windows during the booking process.

Only certain passengers will be allowed to sit in the emergency exit row on a plane. Passengers will need to be of a certain age as they may need to operate the door in an emergency.

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