Plane passenger called ‘incredibly rude’ for refusing to switch seats hours into transatlantic journey

A passenger on a plane from Europe to the US was called “incredibly rude” after refusing to switch seats for a woman who wanted to get away from a crying baby.

An unidentified man wrote about the kerfuffle on Reddit last week in a post that has now gone viral. According to the forum site, the man, 34, and his wife, 36, were flying back from Dublin to Washington DC. They had been assigned the middle and window seats but ended up having the entire row to themselves when one of the passengers didn’t show.

Before the aircraft left the gate, the man took the aisle seat and his wife took the window seat. About five hours into the flight, a woman who had been sitting across from the couple approached them with a friend and demanded that the friend sit in the row’s middle seat.

“She did not ask - she told us this was happening,” the man wrote.

A Reddit user asked if he was wrong for not letting a woman take a seat in his row as she tried to escape a crying baby (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
A Reddit user asked if he was wrong for not letting a woman take a seat in his row as she tried to escape a crying baby (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The passenger asked if a flight attendant agreed to the change and the woman said yes. Not sure whether to believe her, he called over a flight attendant who said that the agreement was that the friend could take an available aisle seat but could not disrupt anyone’s seating arrangements.

The female passenger then started to complain about how the man wasn’t assigned the aisle seat and shouldn’t have been sitting in it anyway. He said he had been sitting in the seat for five hours when she approached him, adding that he and his partner had their items all over the area.

The woman and the friend then went to speak to the flight attendant in private for about five minutes. She returned and then yelled at him, saying “Her friend would not be sitting there - not because she was not allowed to, but because I was so incredibly rude”. She proceeded to call him a “f*****g a*****e”.

The man said he kept his eyes on the show as she berated him.

“The only thing I did this entire time was ask to talk to the flight attendant. I did not say anything else to this woman, though I would have liked to,” he said.

Reddit commenters were divided on how to respond but a few noted that had the woman asked politely, the situation might have had a different outcome.

Nicole Campoy Jackson, a travel expert, writer and advisor for Fora Travel, said that asking the flight attendant for help “was the right move” in an interview with People.

“I am always in the camp of getting a flight attendant involved for sticky in-flight situations,” she said. “Tensions run high when we’re traveling plus they would know, for example, if there was another aisle seat or another solution to this problem. They have more context than we, the passengers, do.”