How to best handle being asked to change paid-for flight seats?

See I didn’t know this.
But now, at last, I understand why in Secret Life of Pets, Mel knows he’s flying.
Thank you.

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well, to be fair…some do. Others don’t.

Point is: the seats sucked. Pity me. :slight_smile:


Consider yourself duly pitied.



I suspect that they think it is no-big-deal to ask people to switch. They need to know that to some people it is a big deal and they are turning off customers on both American and buying a particular seat.

I’d have no problem saying No and have often but even I feel uncomfortable with this. Some seats can appear equal and aren’t, for example, some have handy electric plugins and some don’t.


I came from the Slums of Southwest and was amazed that there was full outlets and USB ports!

On the flight down (exit row), we had nothing. Didn’t even know we had tray tables until landing and I happened to notice the far side of the row had them folded out.

Ugh, that flight down was just awful. :sob:

Even American doesn’t always have them on every seat. My airport is DFW which means most of my flights are American even though I hate them with a purple passion.


Definately plan on getting to the gate early and ask if the airline can help. I would bring a bribe to sweeten the deal with the swapper, lol


I’m not 100% SURE of this, so take it with a grain of salt. I think some Airlines (we are pretty loyal to American) state that they either guarantee that kids under a certain age will be seated next to their parents, or that they will make every effort to make it happen. The Karen on that flight may have planned correctly, but the seating got screwed up for a reason. There are a crapton of reasons that may have been way out of left field, like some crazy weather delays in another part of the country (just an example.) I’m not saying I know ANYTHING about what happened, just offering a reason of why it could have happened other than a “Karen” not planning. I remember a few years ago when planning flights for our family that there were seating guarantees like that. I don’t have to worry about that anymore because now, my kids will GLADLY not sit next to me - lol - we’re flying to Vegas this Sat, actually, and the youngest literally didn’t care where he sat on the plane - but he wanted his own guaranteed aisle seat.

I also pay up for those front of plane “cabin extra” or whatever they are called, and I purposely choose an aisle on the right side. If I was asked to move, I’d only take another aisle seat, OR ask for a MAJOR compensation. If I ate a few less cookies per year, I wouldn’t want an aisle seat so much, I guess.

I’m GUESSING they asked for volunteers because they screwed up the seating, but that’s just a guess.


This far out I would call the airline and see if they can accommodate you now. They often hold some seats as reserved even though they aren’t and could possibly move you now.


Funny I always get a window seat so I can smoosh my fat ass into that 1inch gap vs get bashed in the shoulder by ever person walking down the aisle.


Lol. I am the opposite- I am praying they ask me to move my seat and separate from my family on the plane - three hours of quiet reading would be amazing😜

With that said I would just document the change and follow up after the flight with customer service. Take a picture of your seats, get the flight attendants name(s), etc. and document. OR if that feels like too much trouble and the change isn’t major (a few bucks) talk to the flight attendant and ask for a compl. drink. That should square things out.


This won’t help you while on the plane probably but I LOVE , which tells you the unexpectedly bad seats on each plane (like, the first exit rows typically don’t recline, nor do the seats in front of the exit row!)


The most likely scenario to ensure you will not be moved is to be sitting three across (assuming 3 + 3 row) with your party such that moving one of you doesn’t make any sense. Even if you can just get two people in your party together, it becomes more difficult to move you as a block.

If you are by yourself, you can ask that if you are moved, that the replacement seat is equivalent or better than what you have. Aisle for aisle, window for window. No middle seat unless you are already in a middle seat.

If you’re unwilling to say “no,” I’m not sure what else you can do if it comes down to it.

Just to share one other scenario where seat assignments get screwed up, on one of our recent flights we had booked a block of seats together, but that flight was cancelled just a few weeks in advance. We were put on a 1-stop flight with seating completely screwed up. With 4 kids in our party, it was very tricky to get us all together, but the gate attendant was able to set us up before we got on the plane.

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This actually didn’t seem to make a difference. This exact scenario was happening. They weren’t really interested din keeping the party being moved together, they just wanted to keep the family together.



As someone who is picky about seats I live in fear of this too. I don’t fit in a bulkhead seat because they are slimmer, and I must have an aisle seat otherwise I get clausterphobic/panicky. Otherwise I am easy, but if I paid to upgrade (as much as $80 on United :scream:) I would also expect compensation.

I am just prepared to tell the flight attendant my limitations, as uncomfortable as that would make me.

Don’t rule out all emergency exit rows, some are quite nice!

Our first flight to Disney my DD was five, and a needy five. Our flight got cancelled and we were combined with a later flight and scattered all over the plane. The hysteria in my voice (it was already a long day) may have reached Karen levels :rofl: because I was having flashbacks to three years ealrier when my daughter was so bad on a flight from St. Lucia, we almost got kicked off the plane.


All these cancelled flights have to be a nightmare for seat selection. You can do everything right, pay for and select seats all together 6 months in advance. Then, bam, the airline decides that your flight isn’t full enough and cancels it.

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We know that you’re the Rock and that’s why you need extra leg room. Don’t try to kid us. :wink:


That is an excellent point. If your shoved in another flight who knows if you get your seats.

I just don’t understand people who are rude about it.

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I fly Alaska almost exclusively because I’m in the Seattle area. This is how they handle this type of thing too - at the gate before boarding. In fact, sometimes I think the gate agents will notice that a child is not seated with the parent and will proactively handle the situation. I’ve overheard conversations that lead me to this conclusion.

@Disneymomwlittles Definitely talk to the gate agents before you board! Much easier and smoother to fix it then if you can and I have to believe they will. Also, people cancel and change flights all the time, so seat assignments can change up to the last minute.