American Airlines Karen Demands Window Seat For Son, Cabin Crew Complied By Upgrading Her Victim

An American Airlines passenger, dubbed a Karen on reddit, demanded that a passenger assigned to a window seat move so that her child could have it, became extremely abusive. The woman threatened to sue the airline, and to sue the passenger at the window, when he wouldn’t move.

Finally cabin crew gave into the woman’s demands, accommodating her insistence on the window seat for her kid – by upgrading the passenger who had the window seat to business class. That incensed passenger Karen even more.

The passengers were flying from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Miami. The flight was delayed two hours. Once everyone was on board the man seated himself at his assigned window. And the child “starts screaming about how he wanted the window seat.” The mom taps his arm.

[Mother] – Hi! I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind changing seats with [son], as he is all excited about this plane ride and he’s been doing good on his grades!

[Window passenger] – Under other circumstances I would, but I have claustrophob[ia] and in Aisle I would freak out as soon as we take off (that’s bs). Sorry.

…[Mother] That’s a lie! The claustrophob[a] you have is fake. Just give the seat to my kid or else I’ll call the flight attendant.

…[Flight attendant] Is it everything alright?

[Child] – I WANT THE WINDOWS SEAAATTTTTTT!!!!!

[Mother] – Give me a second, mum will get it for you. “This entitled brat won’t give my precious [child] his seat because he is so entitled…to do anything right in his life!

The man insists on staying in his seat. He admits he made up the story about claustrophobia. And the mother demands that the flight attendant throw him off the aircraft or she’ll call her lawyers. She says she expects “an apology from him and the airline in a week, or else you’ll get sued!”

And the flight attendant.. agrees? “Ma’am, we’ll move this man as soon as possible.”

But she manages this by upgrading him to a window seat in business class. It’s not often there’s an empty seat in a premium cabin on American Airlines, and cabin crew don’t usually upgrade passengers either. The window seat passenger is happy to move away from being in the row with this woman.

However the mom really loses it at this point: “T-That’s not fair! He is the one that is behaving the worst! AND YOU’RE GIVING HIM A PRIZE! NOT FAIR!!”

The flight attendant threatened to have the mother and child removed from the aircraft, she threatened to sue, and another passenger unleashed a profanity-filled tirade at the woman. Finally the captain came out. She claimed to have “touched inappropriately.” The captain asked the family to exit the aircraft, and the woman threatened to sue him “SO BAD YOU’LL HAVE TO LIVE IN THE STREETS!”

The mother was ejected. The window seat passenger stayed in business class. The man in the window seat telling the story doesn’t actually mention the airline, but it would have been an American Airlines flight.

  • Only two airlines fly Santo Domingo to Miami in scheduled service: American and SKYhigh Dominicana.
  • SKYhigh Dominicana uses an Embraer E-190, which has two-by-two seating in economy, and the passenger identifies coach seating as three-by-three.
  • That seating matches the mainline aircraft American flies between the two cities.

Passengers don’t usually get compensation for the things they endure on airlines. The ticket they purchase doesn’t come with abuse. But here they were able to keep an upgraded seat. And the passengers doling out the abuse didn’t travel on that flight. Their lawyer won’t have been able to help them very much. This was a U.S. airline and 49 USC § 44902 provides broad latitude, within certain bounds laid out by the FAA, for the captain of an aircraft to refuse transportation to a passenger if they feel that passenger might be “inimical to safety.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. This sounds like the biggest bs story I’ve ever heard. The odds of a f/c seat from sdq-Mia on aa available that hadn’t already gone to a captain, elite or non rev makes me call shenanigans

  2. Happened to me on an Air France flight where the nut in back of me insisted that I not recline my seat for the entirety of the flight and became abusive when I told him that he should move behind an empty seat. The FA whispered in my ear that she “would make me happy” and led me to a seat in Y+. Honestly, I felt like she gave him a victory for being a jerk but the small upgrade made me feel less aggrieved and from her perspective avoided any further problem.

  3. So in other words, there were no AA elites on the upgrade list that that F seat should have went to instead? Doubtful. Sounds like the gate agent didn’t do their job and clear the upgrade list accordingly.

  4. I think the story is made up. The whole non-sequitur about the Karen claiming he stole her phone and then, when the man says he can unlock it with his biometrics, saying he hacked it and can prove it…that’s not standard Karen behavior. Just seems a little too far fetched to me…

  5. Ban her and her child from future travel on American. The “friendly” skies need to be less crowded, not more.

  6. @Aaron – been on MANY flights where the upgrade list is processed and it’s vacation heavy so no elites – yes, really. It happens more often than you think to some destinations where there are more people visiting family or vacation than business – lots of these routes aren’t premium heavy with paid premium cabins

  7. I was flying from JFK to SFO on AA (upgraded from economy to business on a transcontinental A321 using miles) recently. When I boarded the plane, I found a lady sitting in my window seat. I told her about it, and she said I could take her seat, which was also a window seat but located behind mine. Since I was causing a hold-up in the boarding process, I agreed. Meanwhile, a flight attendant was observing everything from the second door. I settled into the new seat, only to have the same lady complain to the flight attendant that the seat didn’t recline fully. She then asked me to move back to my original seat because I had taken her assigned seat. I was left speechless at this point. However, the same flight attendant who had witnessed my interaction with the entitled lady earlier approached me and asked me to come to the first-class cabin. I was upgraded to first class because of this. As I got up and made my way to first class, I glanced back and saw a surprised expression on the lady’s face

  8. @SamFromQueens – since all this happened on the airplane, and the seat move was done privately, there is no record of you changing seats. You should be entitled to a credit because “your seat” didn’t recline. Write to AA and you could get mileage points, or a $250 travel cert for your inconvenience!

  9. If it’s a route that forces you to fly American, I’ll pass. I’ve never ever had a good experience with them.

  10. Fake News!! =;-)

    Actually, had something like this happen to me. All were jammed in economy, except the last row on the starboard side was empty. When I attempted to move, the FA assigned to the rear galley jumped my arse. A 2nd FA, assigned to the front galley, heard the tirade, and offered me the first row behind 1st class (economy plus) and stated that it included beverages.
    I was most thankful ☺️ to the 2nd FA.

  11. No one with that attitude deserves public transportation. She needs removed from all AA flights and sues for making threats to others.

  12. I’m a Karen, and I never act that way and I’ve never come across another real Karen acting like this. It’s time for writers to come up with a better way to describe silly, rude, entitled people. I bet some creative person can come up with a better option.

  13. Face it critics, whether THIS story is true or not, there have been and will continue to be similar instances like the one described. These Karens do exist and deserve to be called out and dealt with.

  14. I was flying from Chicago to Phoenix with my nephew, a minor. We boarded our flight at O’Hare and sat in our assigned seats in coach. We were approached by a passenger for one of us to switch with them. I pointed out that my 15 years old nephew was a minor who spoke no English (he spoke Vietnamese only..I speak both languages). That passenger went on a diatribe about how everyone should speak English in America. In any case, my nephew and I were upgraded to business class, and the passenger…got a heir coach seat.

  15. I agree with all of you saying that this is a made up story.
    There is a zero chance of a biz class seat available on that flight. Absolutely zero.

  16. We all love a good Karen story though! Hard to know if it’s untrue, as Karens have no boundaries.

  17. That “conversation” is the fakest thing I’ve read in quite a while. A creative writing class might help this attention seeker write more natural-sounding dialogue.

  18. That Reddit post is from 5 years ago, as well as being a fake story. What’s the point of publishing this??

  19. It happened to me on Air France. A woman nagged me until I finally agreed to change my seat on a cross-Atlantic flight just to be done with her. An FA came back and told me I was being upgraded to business. Then the woman made a fuss, saying it should be her because she had the ticket for my seat. She must not have noticed that the FA addressed me by name. I hadn’t requested an upgrade, but it was Platinum (or at least Gold) then. Of course, I let her go on, thinking she missed an upgrade because she insisted on switching seats with me.

  20. I was traveling with my 10 year old nephew who couldn’t sleep with a straight up seat. Whenever we tried to tilt the seat back, this woman sitting right behind him starts kicking his seat violently.

    I can never forget those terrible hours we spent and i so regret not doing anything about it.

  21. What happens in these situations, phone cameras are rolling, and the race is on to be the first to post on TikTok to get the most views. I found nothing on TikTok ‍♂️

  22. Despite this story, some passengers really do suffer from claustrophobia that affects their seat choice. I have a genetic lung disorder. Breathing is more difficult with planes pressurized to far less than sea level (where I live). That affects me from a psychological perspective even though I seem to be receiving enough oxygen. I get anxious if anything is over or too close to my head. So I always book aisle seats where there is more room above my head. If asked, I will decline to switch to anything other than another aisle seat.

  23. Great story. My gf and I had a late 70’s encounter with a Karen couple at a Heart concert at Baltimore Civic Center that worked out PERFECTLY for us. We had terrible upper concourse seats, WAY back. There’s a few hundred empty seats. Mr. and Mrs. Karen appeared. Duplicate tickets, huh? Nah, we’re here, how ’bout you two take seats far away from us? Here comes a security guy. The Karens are really mad now. I turn to security guy and say “how ’bout choice by the stage?” Off we went. 4th row, center aisle. And the Karens got to watch it all 🙂
    A little more on topic….. we’re on the plane at BWI, on our way to Mexico. there’s knee-deep snow and getting deeper fast. Attendant says $50 voucher for postponing, we gotta lighten the load. My gf nudging me, “just wait and watch…… you’re gonna love what’s comin…..”. $900 in vouchers. We’ll be back 🙂

  24. THIS NEVER HAPPENED

    Good Lord some of yall are gullible

    Did you know the word gullible isn’t in the dictionary anymore, Check it for yourself…

  25. Though maybe it doesn’t matter, but the flight was not on American Airlines. The OP was asked in the comments which airline this was and they said it was Spirit airlines. The Reddit thread was made 5 years ago (May 2019) and was about an event from “back in December” of 2018 so maybe Spirit flew from Miami to DR at that time. From the comments:

    H010CR0N
    • 5y ago
    Spirit or Frontier?

    [deleted]
    OP
    • 5y ago
    Spirit. How did you guess?

    P.D.: Frontier doesn’t fly to SDQ, and I’ll go thru PUJ in extreme cases (example, British Airways)

  26. I’ve decided to take the train for all domestic travel rather than even chance running nto one of these entitled @$$#0les.

  27. I was upgraded when asked to give my seat to a kid who was travelling with her mother. I saw no problem- had traveled alone when I was a kid, so I knew that it could be scary. After I said yes, I went back and asked if there was any way that I could get an isle seat for me re-assignment- but if not, no big deal. She gave me a new boarding pass and when I was seated on the plane, it was in business class- the flight was from Paris to NYC, so it was an amazing treat.

    To my mind, it just showed that being co-operative can gain you some advantages.

  28. Common story and events all perpetuated by stupid, lowly educate (if the ever are) and uncivilized people. I dont have any problems with European people.

  29. I was on a Turkish Airlines flight once leaving Tashkent. Everyone was on board, and I was sitting in business class. Then suddenly, a smattering of people walk on the plane, and most sit in the business cabin. I knew it was a bunch of non-revs. The guy who sat down next to me asked me to change for his wife. I told him no. He said, “It’s for family.” I said no. He got so upset he had to have two glasses of wine before takeoff. He was furious all the way to Istanbul. The moral of the story is that no, straight families do not take precedence over gay men. We get to choose whether we want to accommodate you, and to get that honor, we have to like you first.

  30. Had a somewhat similar experience on a DAL flight in 1st class (ATL-TUS). For starters a lady asked me to change seats with her so she could sit with her husband who was next to me in the window seat. What she didn’t say was that she was also in first and sitting on the aisle. If you’re asking me to change seats, you need to say more than just would you please switch seats with me. I’m not playing 20 questions if I’m the one being asked for a favor on an airplane. As fate would have it, some Karen, who apparently had never been in first class before in her life is seated in the row in front of me and her needy kid is across the aisle in a window seat. The minute we push he starts crying and whining for his mother. So she asks the husband character sitting next to me if he’ll swap with her kid so he can sit right behind her and he agrees, So now I got this whiny brat next to me, he’s still carrying on so Karen decides to swap seats with her kid. More musical chairs ensues, she pushes right past me with my QCs plugged in, rips them off my head, then starts trying to explain to me, while pawing at my shoulder how she’s just trying to do right by her kid. My response: don’t say another word to me. The kid finally settled down, the lady who originally asked me to change seats talked her window mate into swapping with her husband (not sure why she didn’t just do this from the jump) and the musical chairs continued. The Clampett family may have struck oil, but their relatives didn’t get any of the inheritance.

  31. The story is highly made up. Empty first class seats are rare, particularly on a route like that.

  32. It’s always a tell when the “bad guy” in any story is perfectly reprehensible. A hysterically entitled parent, looking for a window seat for their kid, getting even more upset when they get what they want at the cost of their “victim” being moved to a premium cabin? A grown adult muttering the phrase “not fair”? Said adult accusing a stranger of faking claustrophobia? Reddit in general, but in particular, those childless/anti-kid subreddits are rife with such obviously fake stories for reasons unknown to most normal people. Nonetheless, the comments here believing this nonsense and opining about women, DEI, etc. aren’t a great sign…

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