Reader Adam P. paid $69 for an extra legroom economy seat. He researched the seat and chose the specific one intentionally. It’s a widebody aircraft, and an aisle seat in the middle section.
Onboard he encountered a family that was separated:
A dad and his 2 teen daughters are traveling – 2 of them to my left, and one daughter across the aisle by herself. Maybe she’s 13 or 14. She’s a little nervous I can tell. So I offer to switch seats with her, even tho[ugh] her seat is not as good as mine. This way she can sit with her sister and dad.
American Airlines Boeing 787 Economy
Here’s where it gets interesting and the conundrum arises.
Another passenger, described as “a business traveler” offers $100 to switch seats with the young girl who took his seat. She accepts, pockets the hundred, and sits farther away from her family.
Here’s the perspective of the reader:
No one says thank you to me. No one acknowledges that I got screwed in this deal. The lady knew it was my seat, the girl knew, but I’m most pissed at the dad.
I looked at him and he averted his eyes. He KNOWS that it’s wrong.
I don’t know that it’s an open and shut case. One counter would be: He agreed to change seats. He voluntarily took a different seat. So that’s the seat he was going to fly in, no matter who sat in his original seat.
The girl valued his seat and being near his family more than her original seat. She was happy to take it. But she didn’t value being with her family $100 more than being away from them.
American Airlines Extra Legroom ‘Main Cabin Extra’ Seats
The reader gave up his right to the seat and had no further expectation of anything from the seat. On the other hand he thought he was exchanging it so that a family could sit together, and the family didn’t sit together. Put another way, he wasn’t engaged in a purely selfless act. He was getting something in return, emotional satisfaction, and she didn’t fulfill her end of the bargain. He lost the moral compensation that was payment for his seat. And he resents that.
Meanwhile, the girl thought she was trading one seat for another. She got an even better seat that she was able to trade again for something even more more valuable — a hundred bucks.
Who is right here? Would you be angry if you gave up your seat to a family so they could sit together, and then they sold the seat to another passenger?
Should the family have acknowledged the gesture, perhaps offering $50 to the original occupant of the seat? Or did they give up all rights to the seat (and compensation for it) when they initially traded?