woman looking out airplane window during flight
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
April 23, 2024 ·  4 min read

 ‘I’m a Solo, Childless Flyer, and No, I Don’t Want to Switch Plane Seats with You’

Entitlement is something that entirely plagues the human race. People feel entitled to cut in line at the grocery store. Entitled to receive a good or service from a friend or family member without paying full price, if at all. Or feel entitled to force you to switch seats on a flight or at the movies. Basic human decency calls for occasionally allowing others to take your place. For example, someone who only has a few items meanwhile you have a shopping cart full of groceries. Or someone who has been standing in line awhile and clearly needs a cane or walker to do so. In contrast, at what point does this entitlement become a problem? For Amelia McBride, the issue became unbearable when she, a solo flyer, had to quietly switch seats with another passenger because that other passenger had children.

One Solo Flyer’s Experience

Amelia tells her story to Well and Good, Travel Tips. She explains that her boyfriend lives across the country, so she’s been doing a lot of traveling recently. Amelia says on her most recent flight, she arrived at her seat and found someone else sitting there. She was told she could sit across the aisle.

The woman sitting in her seat had already settled in next to her children. Amelia notes the kids were around their teenage years. So, they would have likely been fine in the aisle across from their mother. She chose to keep quiet and avoid alerting the already busy flight attendants. She was hot, and exhausted so she begrudgingly took the seat she was motioned to.

Read: Woman calls for adults-only flights after listening to a child cry during her journey

Becoming a Common Occurrence

This was not the first flight that this happened on. She recalls last year, on 3 separate occasions, she had to move seats. They also happened to flights where she paid extra for her window seat. Apparently, hers is not the only story about a solo flyer who has been made to move by another passenger. Solo flyers being forced to move has become so common there’s an entire internet community.

TikTok and a subReddit thread are platforms through which solo flyers have shared similar stories. Solo flyers have been forced to change things around to accommodate others. Parents are not the only people to blame, there are also couples or friends who are adamant to sit together. These days, airline companies charge an extra fee to choose your seat prior to the flight. In this case, people are spending more to ensure they get the seat they’ve paid for.

Read: Airlines can no longer charge parents extra money for sitting next to their kids on airplanes

An Expert’s Opinion

We all know the Covid Pandemic caused various unforeseeable problems. People’s mental health was impacted. People lost their source of income meanwhile housing costs soared. And it seems companies everywhere are taking a dive when it comes to customer service. For example, wait times to call utility companies or credit card companies have increased significantly. Additionally, systems are down or lagging. However, one such impact that no one likely considered was basic human decency.

According to Aimee Daramus, a professional psychologist, Covid may have had a huge impact on social etiquette. This particularly true in regard to travel. This may have an impact on the social graces experienced by solo flyers. Dr. Daramus explains “We were conditioned to get distant from other people [during the pandemic]. A lot of us were separated from our social support, physically, or emotionally through different kinds of conflicts that were going on…. Anytime people have reason to be fearful for a long time, that’s going to kind of get into their heads, and they’ll be maybe a little more cautious, a little more defensive.”

She further states, “A lot of people are in a period of relative freedom where they’re maybe not thinking things through as carefully as they had to during the pandemic. There’s some anxiety, but there’s also eagerness to be out there doing things—maybe sometimes a little bit of restlessness.”

In Conclusion

While there are some occasions when switching seats is the decent thing to do, we all are entitled to be comfortable and happy. In particular, when we’ve paid for our ticket, just like everyone else. There are plenty of examples of human kindness that came to light in the height of the pandemic including many heartwarming stories of people helping others in hard times.

On the other hand, it seems along the way many people also forgot that human decency in an integral part of learning to function together in society. Whether you are a solo flyer or traveling with companions or children, we are all deserving of comfort and consideration. Furthermore, when passengers ask politely if someone would trade seats, others are likely to be more inclined to respect the request.

Keep Reading: ‘Why are you flying with such a young infant?’ He grinned, then walked away. My wife and I exchanged curious looks.’: Flight attendants pay it forward for adoptive couple after 9-year battle with infertility