Where you sit when you enter a plane used to be easy with very little thought given to your choice. Back in the day, most of us booked our ticket and simply took the seat assigned to us.
However, in recent years, airlines have begun to charge holidaymakers to choose their seats. If you don’t pay the extra cash then you risk being sat away from your family members.
While this isn’t always an issue it has led to small children sitting across the aisle from their parents next to strangers. Or, couples being placed at opposite ends of the aircraft.
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The simple way to avoid this is to pay the extra fee and choose your seats. But, at £20 to £40 a pop this can greatly increase the cost of your holiday.
So, the next best thing is to ask a kind stranger to swap seats with you. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go to plan – plenty of people prefer to keep their seats and may think you rude.
But, is there an etiquette to making the request? The Daily Star Travel team spoke to an expert and a flight attendant to find out their opinions.
Flight attendant Kajal Manhas, 26, from India, said: “There’s no rule as such. If the seats are available they can get the seats. It’s completely fine to ask [a flight attendant] as we are there to guide the passengers.”
But, Anton Radchenko, Travel expert and founder of AirAdvisor, says there are some rules you should follow to ensure you’re being polite.
Anton commented: “In recent months, several videos have gone viral on TikTok debating whether you should swap seats with someone on a plane. There’s no denying that it’s a sensitive subject but it can be done successfully with a few tips.
“It’s important to know that passengers must take their allocated seat during boarding and take off. This is because seat allocation is done with regards to weight balance of the plane. It also helps the crew to know exactly who is in what seat and whether there are any special requests such as specific dietary requirements.”
He continued: “If you do still want to swap seats, the general consensus is that only similar or better exchanges should be offered. So, if you want to move from an aisle seat to another aisle seat just to be closer to your friends that would be okay. If you want to move from a middle seat to someone’s aisle seat, this probably isn’t going to go down too well.
“The best way to approach it is to ask the person nicely. Be polite, explain your reasoning and highlight the seat that you’re currently in. Even if they say no, it’s important to thank them for considering.
"Flight attendants do occasionally help and will initiate the conversation for you but remember they can’t force someone to move. In the event that a child and parent are sitting separately, it’s more likely that a flight attendant will get involved.”
The expert added: “Many airlines give you the option to choose where you want to sit when you book flights. If you don’t do this, you shouldn’t automatically assume that you’re going to be sitting together. Booking your flights under one reservation is also another tactic for getting seats together but it doesn’t always work.
“Finally, before asking to swap seats with a person, you could also ask the flight attendant if there are any spare seats or rows available. If so, both you and your party could move without interrupting anyone else.”
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