Should a couple, flying together, select an aisle and window seat in hopes that no one will select the open middle seat and therefore they will end up with more space?
It’s an age-old question and strategy that has been discussed time and time again in online travel communities.
Leave it to the Brits – or at least the FlyerTalk members posting in the British Airways forum – to add a new twist to this long-running debate.
The thread begins predictably enough, with englisha proposing a seat selection strategy and seeking advice:
We are 2 adults, a child and an infant and although we can reserve the bulkhead seats with a basinette, I actually dont like them. So, the idea was to book, for example, seats A, C and D (in any row), leaving B free (which would be between the child and adult with infant), thinking that its unlikely that anyone would be placed in B unless the flight is full. In which case, the unknown person in B would in most likelihood prefer to switch rather than being stuck between an adult with infant and a child. … do you think this is a good way to increase our chances of getting extra space, which would be used for the lap infant?
In the early stages of the discussion most seem to agree that, though there is certainly no guarantee of success, this is a sound strategy.
Then HIDDY offers an opinion that turns the discussion into an entirely different, but not unexpected, direction:
I detest those people who select A&C hoping that B remains empty then have the audacity to tell Mr or Mrs B which seat they can have when their plan backfires or even worse leave them in the middle making sure they feel unwelcome…..selfish sods.
And so it is that the standard arguments ensue:
- People shouldn’t try to game the system at the expense of others…
- People who reserve their seats early get first choice. It’s as simple as that and if it inconveniences others, well so be it…
- If a couple wants more space/privacy they should just pay for it…
- It’s irrational and unreasonable to expect humans to do anything other than employ strategies that might result in a favorable outcome for them…
- How is a couple who reserves and aisle and a window any different than two solo travelers who do the same?
It’s on that last point that the discussion takes an interesting turn.
Everyone pretty much agrees that two passengers who select the aisle and window seats, whether they be a couple or two solo travelers, are acting perfectly within the bounds of acceptable social behavior – so long as those are the seats they actually want to sit in, or will happily accept sitting in. The problem some have is with couples who employ this strategy but aren’t content with the arrangement in cases where it doesn’t work out quite right.
Several posters allude to this type of couple/situation, but I think 1HourPhoto describes it best:
As someone who mostly flys solo, I have no issue if a couple pick A C if that’s genuinely the seats they want and don’t disturb B by having a conversation across them ect.
It’s the ones that pick A C then get arsey when B turns up and B won’t swap with couple A C, which has happened to me on a few occasions when I’ve misconnected onto a domestic.
So there we have it. The strategy is fine. And if you are part of the couple, offering to switch seats if someone is seated in the middle seat so as to be next to one another is fine as well.
What isn’t fine is to demand that the middle seat occupant move because you and your traveling companion must be seated together.
Problem solved. Thank you Britain.
Until it is raised again.
Read the thread in its entirety: Seat reservation tactics – Leaving middle seat empty