Monday, August 19, 2013

"Can I Ask You a Favor?"

"Excuse me, sir - can I ask you a favor . . ." 
This is the last thing I want to hear on an airplane.  Well, maybe not the last thing.  But close...
It was last Wednesday that I booked my flight to Fort Lauderdale for this past weekend.  As you might imagine, seating was limited.  I used miles for the flight, and was able to book first class going down.  However, first class was sold out on the 6:58 am flight back Monday morning.  In fact, the entire flight was nearly sold out.  There were a handful of middle seats left, and a few of the "premium" aisle seats.  You now, the airlines' newest scam, where you pay extra for a seat that looks and seems (and is) like every other seat in coach.  Now, I don't do window seats anymore.  And I sure as hell don't do middles.  This is largely because I have the bladder of a 90 year old man and inevitably have to get up to use the bathroom at least once or twice a flight.  And I'm considerate of others.  I don't want to make my issue someone else's issue by forcing another person to repeatedly get out of his/her seat so that I can hit the head.  So, I plan ahead, and I always book an aisle.  So, this time, I sucked it up and paid $49 for one of the few remaining aisle seats.
Fast forward to this morning . . . 
6:25 am.  I boarded the flight with my fellow Zone 1 frequent flyers.  Shortly after I was seated, a woman came and took the window seat in my row.  The middle remained open.  As was the middle seat in the row across the aisle from me.  Over the course of the next 20 minutes, a stream of passengers filed by, and I played the "Oh God, please NO!!!! Please God NOOOO!" game in my head as a parade of slovenly heathens approached and, fortunately, filed by.
Then it happened.  I was barely paying attention when I noticed a woman and a small child standing next to me in the aisle trying to get my attention.  "Excuse me, sir - can I ask you a favor?
I know what's coming.  I've fallen for this before.  Now I'm like Taylor Swift - I'm never, ever, ever falling for this again.
"Would you mind switching seats with me?"
While I know the answer already, I ask the question anyway: "where is your seat?"
"The middle seat over there."
"Sorry, I don't want a middle seat..."
Now, normally, I no longer feel bad about saying no.  I've said "yes" before, gotten out of my aisle seat, marched to the back of the plane, and discovered that someone has, unbeknownst to me, traded their middle for my aisle.  I'm not doing that any more.  Here's the thing -- I'm not sitting in an aisle seat by coincidence.  I've planned ahead.  I've specifically chosen the seat I'm in.  Yes, the exact seat.  Hell, this trip I even paid extra for this seat!"   But, this time, I did sort of feel bad; this was a poor woman and her small child.  Still. Whatever.   Don't make me responsible for your lack of planning.
Several passengers in the area looked at me like I was a complete dick.    Of course, there were three other people who had seats in our row, any one of whom could have spoken up and offered to switch his/her aisle/window for one of this woman's middle seats and resolved the crisis.  Of course, no one spoke up.  I guess I'm the only bad guy.
In the end, this woman decides to just sit next to me and carry her child  (who appeared to be 2-3 years old) on her lap.  This meant that for two and a half hours, I had said kid's feet alternatively resting on my leg/kicking me.  But, I guess this is what I deserve for being an awful person . . .
Aside from this, it was a fine weekend.  The weather was good.  The water was warm.  And the beers were cold.  After getting up both mornings and grabbing some breakfast at the Platinum lounge, I spent a few hours by the pool.  Then I stuck a room key, a credit card and $20 cash in my board shorts and headed down the beach to spend the remainder of the afternoon hopping between beachside bars and the ocean.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend:
The Westin Diplomat

View from the suite




  1. I once had a kid crying and screaming on the plane directly behind me.
    This same trip I had a 7 day migraine and it only went away that exact morning.
    The screaming made it come back and I am told by my buddy that I, out loud, said "If someone can't shut the kid up I might have to kill it."

    A few moments later a random mother in the other aisle and a few seats back offered to hold it and try to calm it.
    Within 10 minutes it shut up and a few minutes later the grrouch was sleeping for his trip back to PA - in silence - in peace.

    1. Air travel can be infuriating. Kids are usually the least of my grievances. IN no particular order, I can't stand:

      (1) people rushing to get off the plane. It's an orderly process. When it's your row's turn to go, you get up and go. Don't push down the aisle. Also, if you threw your shit in an overhead in the back of the plane, then suffer the consequences - stay put and wait for people to get off before getting your bag. Don't push your fucken way down the aisle passed he people standing there to get your shit. It's annoying; and it's uncalled for.

      (2) If you are a chick, make sure you are strong enough to lift your carry-on into the overhead. If not, check your bag. Don't ask me for help lifting your bag for you. It's not cute.

      (3) Don't ask me to switch seats with you unless you have a comparable seat.

      (4) Take your fucken backpack off (and otherwise pay attention to you bags) when you are walking down the aisle. If you have an object sticking a foot off your back, or over your shoulder, and you turn, it's going to hit me in the fucken head while I'm sitting in my seat. If you can't get your shit down the aisle without hitting me with it, check your shit.

  2. I don't think you were a dick for not switching. I am somewhat claustrophobic and would never change my aisle seat for a middle or window. However, when not in first class one must deal with the hoi polloi that make even guys like me seem like aristocrats.

    That being said ...

    "If you are a chick, make sure you are strong enough to lift your carry-on into the overhead. If not, check your bag. Don't ask me for help lifting your bag for you. It's not cute."

    Oh c'mon -- even I am gentlemanly enough to do that. Helping out a damsel in distress or perhaps someone's mother or grandmother? Not sure why this one would chap you. The other instances -- sure.

  3. I never have these problems with Greyhound.

  4. With regards to #2, I'm assuming then that your policy is that if all of your life's belongings don't fit in a laptop bag, you don't need them anyway.

    1. It's prolly bad policy to pursue a woman who can fit all her belongings in a laptop bag. I think the key fix to both issues is to find a woman who can afford the $25 fee to check her suitcase!

    2. 25dollars that is poker buy in money ,sir. like 1.5% of the bankroll

  5. My biggest can't stand is when you get to your seat and all of the overhead bins are crammed full for 10 rows in front or behind you. Most of the time I travel without any carry on because this has always been an issue for me. I am going to try to take my laptop with me for the first time this next trip. I wish I could just check it and know it was going to be o.k.

    1. Agree with you. I get free bag checks on USAIR, and 99% of the time, just autocheck my bag. IN addition to avoiding the situation you mentioned, it's also one less thing to worry about keeping track of if I decide to tie one on at the airport bar preflight!

    2. Ah, but P3, you have status on USAir which means at worst you are boarding group 2. Unless there are a whole lot of chairmen on your flight, you should always have plenty of space to put your carry-on. If you check bags, you can never catch that earlier flight that is still there when you arrive at the airport. This is more foolish than leaving a suitcase at a laundromat.

    3. Yeah. Except, when I fly in the evening, I usually bail out of work a bit early, and get to he airport to booze a bit. As a result, I usually wait to the last second to board so I can hit the rest room one last time right before the gate closes. Otherwise, things sometimes get dicey waiting for the seatbelt sign to go off!!! Thus, typically, the early boarding does me no good...

  6. I don't think it would have been out of line for you to say something like, "I paid $50 extra when I booked my flight to ensure I got an aisle seat. I'll sell it to you for $100."