Air Travel Etiquette: Is It Acceptable to Claim Another Passenger’s Assigned Seat?

What’s your biggest air travel pet peeve?
by | August 17, 2023

We all have our air travel pet peeves. From delayed flights to passengers who are overly excited to deplane – the list goes on. We just want to travel in peace and get to our destination seamlessly, but there are instances and/or individuals that make travel uncomfortable. Such is the case in this now viral post on Facebook.

With over 13,000 reactions and 2.6k shares as of writing, aviation enthusiast and content creator Mond Ortiz shares a Facebook post about passengers who refuse to follow their assigned aircraft seat.

In his post, he shares a personal experience he had on a local airline. A passenger took Mond’s seat, saying they got there first and it wouldn’t matter anyway, since it’s all the same. Mond reiterated he paid extra to be seated by the window, to which the other passenger said they would just reimburse his payment.


Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take Someone Else’s Airplane Seat

Now, the question is: could you take someone else’s aircraft seat? As Mond shared in his post, it’s not right unless you’re flying with an airline that has a free-seating policy. Usually, seats are assigned and you have to adhere to it.

Here’s why you shouldn’t take someone else’s seat:


1. Identification

Your seat assignment is attached to your name on your boarding pass, mainly for identification and safety purposes. In case of an emergency, accident, or even death, this information would be primarily used for verification.

Also, weight distribution is considered when flying in smaller planes. Notice how passengers are scattered when the aircraft is not full?


2. Seat preferences

Just like Mond, passengers have seat preferences. Some enjoy flying by the window seat, others would want more legroom, or they would prefer the isle seat for better mobility. These preferred and pre-selected seats are paid for, so if you didn’t spend the extra bucks, just follow the seat you’re given.


3. Pre-booked meals

Nowadays, pre-booked meals come as an option when booking tickets. Taking someone else’s seat means there’s a chance for a meal to be served to the wrong passenger. Worse, someone else might get a free meal they didn’t pay for.


4. Courtesy

Be a responsible traveler and avoid conflict. Unless you inform the crew beforehand or ask permission (as family travelers who would want to be seated together sometimes do), follow your seat assignment strictly.


What should I do if someone else has claimed your assigned seat?

If the person won’t budge after informing them of the situation, spare yourself from stress and avoid arguing with fellow passengers. Instead, let the cabin crew handle the situation. We understand that it can be upsetting when the situation happens, but don’t add fuel to the fire, which will make traveling uncomfortable for other passengers too. After all, we just want to get to our destination safely and in peace.


What are your air travel pet peeves? Share them below!


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When she’s not writing, Ina’s busy curating playlists that will save her when words don’t work, reading, annoying her cat, or thinking of her next meal.

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