United Flight Attendant’s Game Of ‘Musical Chairs’ Made No Sense

by SharonKurheg

Joe and I are both strong supporters of the arts in Central Florida. And let me tell you – we’ve got some AMAZING arts here, with museums, orchestras, the ballet, and lots and LOTS of local, professional theater.

Of course, there shouldn’t be any wonder in that – with 3 major theme parks chock full of live entertainment, that’s a whole lot of professional performers who do other shows, not in theme parks, here and there.

One of those performers is a guy we know named Rob. If you’ve been to Walt Disney World or SeaWorld in the past decade and change, you’ve probably seen Rob in a variety of roles, either acting or singing or maybe both. He’s even done some directing here and there.

Anyway, Rob is, like many performers, very creative. He also has the talent of being able to size up a situation quickly. So when he was on a flight from Denver to San Diego and was thrown into an awkward situation that the flight attendant made, he used his skills to try and fix the problem. Unfortunately, the flight attendant wanted no part of it; she wanted things to be done HER way. Even if her way meant essentially allowing what she wasn’t allowing in the first place. Not that her version of the allowing was any better…but it was hers.

Here’s how Rob explained it:

On United Flight 2309

Seated in a full row in front of an exit row.

After the crew closes the main cabin door, the woman next to me leaves our row to go to an empty seat with her mother in the exit row. As the crew is making final checks, a flight attendant approaches the woman.

Flight Attendant: “Is that your seat?”

Woman: “No, I came back to sit with my mom.”

FA: “Well, you can’t sit there. It’s an up charge.”

Woman: “Really?”

FA: “Unless maybe this gentleman would like to take your middle seat in the next row up.” Shifting her attention to the man seated in the exit row with them, “Sir, would you like to leave your exit row seat here and go sit in the middle seat in the next row up so that these two can sit together?”

Man #1: “They are sitting together.”

FA: “It’s an up charge, though. So, they can’t sit here unless someone pays.”

Now I’m brought into the conversation.

FA: “Sir, maybe you would like to come back to the exit row so these two can sit together?”

Rob: “How about I stay where I am and I donate my exit row seat to her?”

FA: “Are you going to pay for her to sit there?”

Rob: “No, because you just offered it to me for free, and now I’m offering it to her.”

FA: “But someone needs to pay for the exit row seat.”

Rob: “You just offered it to me for free. Besides, what would we be paying for exactly?”

FA: “The extra leg room.”

Rob: “I’m good with my leg room. What I’m not good with is paying for the privilege of assisting in case of an emergency.”

FA: “I don’t make the rules.”

Rob: “No, but you certainly do enforce them.”

She then tries the other guy in my row.

FA: “Sir, would you be willing to go to the exit row?”

Man #2: “No, I would like to go back to sleep.”

FA: “You can sleep in the exit row.”

Man #2: “What does it cost?”

FA: “For you, it’s free.”

He moved back. The lady and her mother came up to my row. The flight attendant, stood tall in her ability to solve a problem she created and resumed her final checks.

So the woman couldn’t sit in the seat for free, but Rob or Man #2 could. Ummm….OK?

My question is, did the flight attendant even know what she just did???

*** Many thanks to Rob L. for allowing us to share his story (and to Chris L. for PMing Joe!)

Feature Photo: Turkish Airlines / Twitter

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TM June 22, 2021 - 7:24 pm

Ok, so next time anyone who KNOWS they are traveling with another person in an exit row can just have one in their party pay for the extra seat charge and both can use it, because “I just want to sit with my mom”. Sorry, things just don’t work that way, both have to pay for what they use. How would it look if her mother was sitting in Business? Does “I just want to sit with my mother” ever work in that situation? Same logic applies. I fully support the flight attendant, and shame on the passenger for trying to game the system.

SharonKurheg June 22, 2021 - 9:45 pm

Have to disagree, to an extent. She was offering other passengers to sit in the exit row, for free, instead of the one who wanted to sit next to her mom. Sooooo…what’s the difference (aside from it’d be someone the FA chose, instead of punishing the daughter)?

Pierre June 22, 2021 - 7:29 pm

Big brain at work there.

Christian June 22, 2021 - 9:46 pm

While the whole episode is somewhere between silly and flat-out ridiculous, I’m not sure that implying that stuff like that doesn’t happen on other airlines is reasonable.

SharonKurheg June 22, 2021 - 9:56 pm

Oh, of course it does. But until we hear about it… 😉

Anonymous June 22, 2021 - 10:28 pm

The FA wasn’t offering anyone a free exit row, the mom would be giving up her exit row seat, swapping with either men.

So in total there will be always 1 passenger in the said exit row.

SharonKurheg June 22, 2021 - 10:44 pm

I understand that. But when Rob offered to “accept” his free exit row seat and immediately “donate” it to the daughter, that wasn’t OK.

Rick June 22, 2021 - 10:36 pm

This is ridiculous, but I understand not allowing someone to move to a seat that they would have paid for even at check in. I hate people who are too cheap to pay for seat reservations and then expect others to move to accommodate them. I will generally only be willing to move if there is a small child involved, and I think it’s criminal some of the airlines don’t have a system in place that doesn’t automatically seat a parent with children under 12 next to each other.

gus June 23, 2021 - 5:36 am

this is a non-story — the flight attendant didn’t want anyone to get an exit row seat that wasn’t paid for. One of those exit row seats was paid for so swapping somebody (anybody) in to that seat was ok. The flight attendant was pedantic, but correct.


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