"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