Rude, or ok?

A few days ago I flew American Airlines from San Antonio back to Miami (actually landing in Ft. Lauderdale, a short drive to Miami) connecting in Dallas after moving our things. I needed to get back to Miami after leaving my car in San Antonio for good and pick up my wife and drive with her and her car from Miami to San Antonio. I flew back with my dad, who went to help me with the move, continuing to drain down the AA vouchers that my in-laws got from American late last year.

The type of fare we purchased included Group 1 boarding. But on the Dallas-Ft. Lauderdale leg, when we got to our seats, an old lady (maybe in her early 60s) was already sitting on the aisle seat. We had window and middle seats reserved. She stepped out so we could get by, and as soon as we sat down, she apologized because she had put her bag under my dad’s middle seat. So I asked her if it was ok to move it over under her own seat, but she was also using that space for another carry-on. So then I asked her to put it on the overhead bins, which were still empty since most passengers hadn’t boarded, to which she replied “I can’t, I need to have my stuff with me”. At that point it sounded like she had medical issues, and since my dad wasn’t carrying anything, I let it go. It was only a 2.5 hour flight. She was also walking with the aid of a cane and had some coughing going on.

Now this got me thinking: Is it ok even if you have a special situation to take up a fellow passenger’s foot space with your stuff when he/she is already crammed enough in coach? She did apologize, and it wasn’t that big of a deal since we really didn’t need the space, but she did take up my dad’s space when there was plenty of room in the overhead bins. I’m a nice and accommodating guy, but it did bother me that she didn’t explain why she really “needed” the space or that she didn’t make any clear or concerted effort to co-exist with her fellow passenger. To top it off, she was one of those chatty passengers (but I wasn’t in a talking mood, and she got my hint), and to make matters worse, she was a Yankee fan.

It would have been an interesting situation had I been sitting there and needed the space, as I also “need” to have my stuff with me so I don’t have to unnecessarily get up during a flight, especially if I’m in a window seat and need to bother others to get up. In the end, I let her win and take the extra space.

Rude, or ok? Should I have done anything differently? I’m curious to know what everyone else would have done.

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7 Responses to Rude, or ok?

  1. Micki says:

    Rude. No question about it. If she has a medical issue that requires that she have large things nearby (such as an oxygen concentrator for respiratory issues) then she should have let the airline know ahead of time, and been placed in a seat where she could store them somehow in her “own” space.

    My question is this: did she, at any point in the flight, actually make use of any of her stuff? Either the things under her seat, or under your FIL’s? If not, she didn’t need them there, did she? She just wanted the convenience.

    • travelguys says:

      Micki, hit the nail right on the head. No, she did not use her stuff at all.
      Jen, you’re probably right!

  2. Jen says:

    She is definitely rude. But I think you did the right thing. You probably would have felt worse if you did not let her win.

  3. Mike crawford says:

    That is the type of passenger that makes me cranky. You offer to help. She doesn’t NEED her stuff just WANTS her stuff. Nobody is stealing it from over her head. My wife would have been poking me to keep my mouth shut. I can hear it now. ” you’re not the baggage police!”

  4. Micki says:

    Just thought of one more thing.

    With the cramped spaces in coach, having large bags under the seat in front of you can increase the possibility of thrombi in the lower legs, due to the inability to move them around adequately.

    In the future, when entitled little old ladies think they deserve your (or your dad’s) underseat space, you can just say, “I’m sorry, but my health requires that I have room to move my legs during the flight. I’ll be happy to get your bag down for you if you find you need it.”

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