First class passenger defends not swapping seats with 10yo boy in economy so he could sit with parents

  • 21/08/2023

A woman has sparked a discussion online about plane seat etiquette after claiming she refused to downgrade from first class to economy so a 10-year-old boy could sit with his parents.

Although most commenters appear to blame the parents - noting one of them could have swapped seats with their son instead of her - the 23-year-old passenger said she was "shamed by an old woman in the seat next to me who told me that I made a child sit on their own for 13 hours".

There is also suspicion the story is false, with some commenters suggesting elements simply don't add up.

The woman shared the story on Reddit, saying she had been planning a trip to San Francisco for around a year and was excited to be offered an upgrade to first class as she had never flown in the premium cabin before.

The Redditor did not say where she was flying from nor on which airline, but 13 to 15-hour flights to San Francisco are often operated from airports in Auckland, Sydney and Singapore, amongst others.

"About an hour into the flight, a flight attendant comes up to me and asks me if I'd be willing to swap seats with a 10-year-old boy who was in economy so he could sit with his family in first class," she wrote.

The traveller went on to say she felt pressured to move due to what the flight attendant was offering as alternative options - including a refund and an upgrade credit - but ultimately decided she wanted to remain in first class and not give her seat to the 10-year-old.

"I get a 13-hour flight alone for a child is the scary part but I saw him walk up and down the aisles like every hour to meet his parents so it wasn't like he was alone."

She ended her post asking: "So AITA (am I the asshole), because supposedly this is what an a-hole would do?"

Hundreds of commenters joined in a discussion on the post, many expressing outrage at the passenger who "shamed" the 23-year-old over her decision.

"So not his parents who accepted an upgrade and ditched their kid in economy, it's the random stranger who's at fault for making the kid fly alone? Give me a break," said one.

"The brass balls on grandma who had a go at OP [original poster] while tucked up in her own seat," added another.

"I would have called back the stewardess and told her the old lady volunteered," said a third.

Other commenters suggested other solutions for the situation, including one who said: "I'm sure two people in economy would've been glad to swap with the parents!"

However, other commenters have been pouring scorn on the veracity of the story.

One posted: "Red flags for me: Upgrades are last minute, not way in advance. Airlines don't call people, you get notification in email or apps. Kids must be on the same booking as the adult and it's doubtful they'd upgrade part of a reservation."

Another added: "It would be from economy to business too, never economy to first class on an international flight."

While a third quipped: "23-year-old books a year in advance and has 'status'. Yeah OK."

The woman's story is the latest in a long line of similar posts and news articles about the etiquette of swapping plane seats, in which people are often reminded to reserve seats in advance rather than try and make other passengers switch during the flight.