Flight Attendant Uses Blackmail When PAX Won’t Switch Seats With Kid/Parent

by SharonKurheg

Airplane seat “musical chairs” happen on, if not every flight, I’d venture to guess almost all of them. You’ve got couples or friends who want to sit together but “didn’t pay for the privilege,” on top of parents who, understandably, want to sit next to their young children.

Everyone has their own opinion about who they’re willing (or not) to swap seats with or who, if anyone, should ask to swap in the first place.

Meanwhile, an Orlando-based flight attendant has revealed the ‘punishment’ (or, if you prefer, manipulation, threat, blackmail. There are lots of words for it.) she hands out to passengers who say they won’t swap seats so a child can sit next to a parent.

Mitra Amirzadeh works for a major airline that typically charges passengers to choose their seats ahead of time. She claims that requests to swap seats happen on about 80% of her flights.

She says that, more often than not, it’s couples who aren’t seated together who want to swap. Amirzadeh doesn’t think people who’ve paid for their seats should move for them.

“The next time you feel yourself getting angry or getting frustrated that you’re not getting the seat you want, you need to remind yourself that you didn’t pay to pick your seat. Otherwise, you’d be in it.” she told the Wall Street Journal.

But, when it comes to kids sitting next to their parents, Amirzadeh explains that a different approach is needed.

Comply or face the punishment

Some airlines (less than half) have committed to fee-free family seating. But even when everything’s done right, things happen and a parent and child might be separated.

Amirzadeh didn’t specify if her airline is one of “the” four that are trying to do things right. But a parent and child not sitting together has obviously happened on lots of her flights.

Amirzadeh says that when a child is involved, she’s needed to get ‘good at reading the room’ when no one steps forward to swap, or refuses to. The warning/punishment/blackmail/manipulation she gives out is that whoever that person is, if they’re sitting next to the child, they need to look after them.

a child looking out of an airplane window
“I have said before, ‘OK, so you’re going to watch the toddler?'”

Amirzadeh says she will tell the stubborn passenger, “you’ll want their snacks and their coloring books then, because they’re going to need that.”

Can she really do that?

As far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty hardcore. It’s also questionably unethical.

I mean, say you have your aisle seat and you paid $38 for it. The 3-year-old next to you is in a middle seat. Their parent is also in a middle seat, 17 rows back. Because I refuse to switch from a “more front” aisle seat that I paid extra for, to a crummy middle seat in the back, she’s suggesting I be responsible for some stranger’s toddler? Ummm….no.

It all goes back to airlines needing to get with the program. Of course, parents should be able to sit next to their young children. I think the government is on the right track in getting US airlines to make changes to allow kids and parents to sit together without extra charges (or hell, just charge for ONE of the seats). But it’s a shame that only 4 airlines have complied in a year and the government doesn’t seem like they’ve done much since.

What would you do?

So if Mitra Amirzadeh pulled that on you, what would you do?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Laurel Gurley April 23, 2024 - 6:49 pm

I’m not taking care of somebody else’s child. I usually pay extra for an aisle seat with some legroom. The only way I’m gonna move is if I get an upgrade or speak to the captain . And I just bet if I had to move away from my upgraded seat because I couldn’t miss the flight, I would demand to be reimbursed immediately for my upgrade fee. Poor planning on somebody else’s part or the fact that the airlines are charging families to sit together are the root problems.

Patrick April 24, 2024 - 9:05 am

Just say no…

jon April 24, 2024 - 12:36 pm

When asked to move, I always ask has any other passenger(s) been asked to move? Why me?Why not ask the passenger seated next to the parent to move instead of the passenger next to the child??

Alexander W Schneider April 24, 2024 - 8:39 pm

I don’t pay for “preferred” seats but I buy regular coach which gives my wife and me the ability to pick two seats together. I would flatly refuse to break up to accommodate someone who booked later. Not my responsibility.
(posted edited by YMMV to remove section that was off topic)

LauraPDX April 25, 2024 - 8:16 pm

Rather than using a negative blackmail approach, why not use and incentive like miles or free drinks to move?


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