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Thursday 24 March 2016

Do passengers have the right to sit wherever they want on a plane?

Ever arrived at your allocated seat on an aircraft to find someone already sitting in it with their goods spread about? 

It is happening more and more often as those lumbered with middle seats, or trying to sit next to a friend, try their luck at re-allocating you. 

As a frequent flyer I am usually allocated an aisle seat near the front of the plane, but a couple of times recently I've found people in my spot, who then ask me to move to the middle seat or window.

I'm sorry, but no. Unless it is a matter of urgency (and I really can't think how it could be). It is pretty easy nowadays to book a specific seat before you fly - if you don't manage to do so then why do you think it is OK to pinch my seat? 

A recent post on the Australian Frequent Flyer website told how one member’s recent experience on a Singapore Airlines flight left them annoyed and frustrated. 

Upon boarding, the member found that a couple had presumptuously settled into his pre-selected seat. This couple then insisted – with the support of the cabin crew – that our member swap to an inferior seat. After initially refusing, the member said he was humiliated by the air crew. 

He should not have been. He should have stuck to his guns. The air crew were wrong. They could have asked him to move, but they should not have forced him to do so unless there were safety issues. 

The decision to either move, or not to move, often depends on how the other party requests the seat swap, the AFF site reports. 

Many members say they would be unlikely to swap if the passenger had boarded early and was already sitting in their seat. Most are also unlikely to accept an inferior seat. This is especially the case if the seat was carefully selected – sometimes even for a fee – months ago. The consensus is that anyone wanting a particular seat should organise this before boarding the plane.

Some AFF members did say they would consider moving if the passenger seeking their seat asked politely. They also suggest that offering a better seat to the other party would assist with any negotiations.

If you are a frequent flyer you have a strong case to sit where you were allocated - or, of course, the airline could always move you forward to make room for the loved-up couple who just cannot be separated for a few hours. 

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