Mom Leaves Kids Alone Beside Passenger Who Refused To Switch Seats

There’s a lot of discussion around changing seats to accommodate families. Generally families need to secure seats together prior to the flight. Sometimes that can’t happen, for instance when their flight is cancelled and they get rebooked. There may not be anything together! In those cases airlines usually try to work with passengers to move them around where possible.

But if you want someone to switch with you, you need to make it worth their while. Don’t offer a middle seat in exchange for the aisle, for instance. Trade the best thing you can! Smile and be nice, they’re doing you a favor!

A comedian named Cindy Arena was traveling with her four and six year old kids and they weren’t seated together. She asked another woman to switch seats so she could sit with her kids. The woman said no. Her right, but…

That meant the mom wasn’t with the kids, and this woman who wouldn’t change was seated next to them instead. One of the kids was four! Hijinks are going to ensue!

Naturally the kids got a bit unruly, so the woman wanted to switch with the mom. And now the mom wouldn’t switch! She had free babysitting, a bit of peace and quiet, and the kids really couldn’t go anywhere – they were trapped inside a metal tube.

@cindyarenacomedy #momsoftiktok #kids #airplane #comedy #reaction #boomer #babyboomer #ComicalConversations #Questions #FunnyTalks #comedyvideos ♬ original sound – cindy arena

Is this story… true? If it is, what does that say about the mom who left her four year old with someone else that didn’t want to sit with them? I have a feeling she could have facilitated the seat trade prior to the flight if she’d been nice, asked kindly for the woman’s help, and maybe offered her something as a thank you.

I frequently write about being nice to the airline and hotel staff you come into contact with, not just because they’re people and may well be having a bad day, but because it’s in your own interest to. They’ll go much farther to help you, rather thank just trying to move you along, if you connect with them as people. The same goes for dealing with other passengers!

(HT: The Bulkhead Seat)

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, 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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  1. I am so over this switch seats game. If you want to seat next to someone check the seating chart & book the tkts that way- yes there may be a charge but you get the seating arrangement you want. If you want to switch seat with someone ask politely if they decline its over. Do not make a scene, do not video a rant. They PAID for their seat. Case closed

  2. Be the person they want to help.

    My kids are grown now and I never had this particular problem, but if it had happened my plan was always to hand the air sickness bag to my child and say “please try to get it in the bag this time, sweetheart” before heading to my assigned seat.

  3. So a mother that doesn’t care enough about her children to buy tickets together leaves her children with a total stranger to punish the stranger for that decision. Cindy Arena – loser mother of the year, until there’s a worse story tomorrow. Or later today.

  4. Sad state of today because everyone with social media is now able to self proclaim themselves as a “Comedian”, “Model”, “Influencer”, “Brand Ambassador”, etc. Don’t buy into it. I’d suspect ANY story that starts with social media. Confrontation and drama is necessary for clicks and eyeballs.

    There has to be more to the story. No one sane would leave a 4 year old, if so, she should have the kids taken away from her. Now that funny…

  5. What a bitch. She wants a woman to move to the back of the airplane and probably to a middle seat so she can have an aisle with her kids? And then complains about it?
    I always get an aisle, and I’m never moving unless i get a better seat.

  6. @LarryinNYC- your comment made me laugh hard. Thank you.

    But it’s true- kindness goes a long way, and offering something (say $20) is not a huge offering either IMO. If I was rolling the dice by not paying to have seats together, it’s on me to figure out a solution.

  7. Traveling with a 7 yo. Rebooked due to a cancellation, full flight no seats together. Regional jet with 2-2 seating. The guy next to my daughter wouldn’t switch, complete like for like seat 2-3 rows back in the plane. She sat quietly crying while boarding continued. Fortunately upon arrival my seatmate agreed to switch

    I will never forget that D-bag.

  8. Oh settle down everyone. We panic way too easily about kids anyway. This was highly entertaining, whether true or not.

  9. If I am in a seat I selected and prefer, it’s unlikely $20 will provide any incentive to move. While it’s possible I may choose to help out someone genuinely distressed, twenty bucks will not be the motivation.

  10. Questions:
    The passenger was within her right to refuse to switch but you have to wonder seeing that she would be seated next to a 4&6 year old how she expect them to behave? It is a no brainer Yes, you should ask kindly, but how do you know the mother didn’t? And no the mother didn’t abandon them She asked she knew where they were and they couldn’t go far what she did do is let the person who was mean live with her consequences of not being kind. Perhaps the passenger will think twice about refusing when kids are involved. Finally, I know flight attendants have a lot of work but I wonder why at the beginning they didn’t intervene to broker a switch. It may have saved everyone

  11. This wasn’t an issue before major carriers started charging for every little thing. Airlines should prioritize families with young children (under 7 or so) sitting together and not charge a fee, otherwise this is what they can expect. If I select seats together with my children, and the airline moves my 3 year-old to a different seat away from us, then the airline has the burden to rectify the situation, not the parent by making impromptu deals with other passengers.

  12. @Paul. You had the option of NOT taking that re-booked flight, and confirming seats together on a different flight. The bad guy isn’t the guy that refused to switch for your convenience – take a look in the mirror, and you’ll see who the bad guy is.

    Just like this catch-you-next-tuesday, who thinks it’s normal to have seperate seats from her 4 year old, and then expected the village to help. Too bad DYFS wasn’t waiting for her at the gate.

  13. My available bucket of sympathy depends on whether this was an irrops rebook where there was no option to sit together, or whether this was an “I don’t feel like paying to reserve seats together” situation. Bottom line: 100% would pick the 4 year old over a middle seat.

  14. Sometimes, things happen and the best planning of the parents comes to nothing. I had this happen travelling back from Europe with a connection in Philly. The flight was delayed, and the chaos at Philadelphia customs..Missed flight that had us seated together. Travelling without my husband with a very tired 2 and 6 year old. Only random middle seats left on the flight they changed us to, and a lot of businessmen with their heads down refusing to change. I said fine. I plonked the two year old in one middle seat, warning that he kicks when he sleeps, and was very tired after a 10 hour flight. Two rows back, my 6 year old climbs in. Fair waring given that he suffers from airsickness and may throw up. I headed to my seat another five rows back…Amazing how quickly those businessmen jumped up offering to change seats! Have a heart people, it is not always “failing to plan” by parents.

  15. I guess none of you saying that it’s the parents responsibility to find seats together have tried to book a flight on short notice and realized that there aren’t 2 or 3 seats together anywhere on the plane. If that’s the flight that works, you take what you can get and hope someone will switch. And certainly you try to switch like for like if possible.

  16. In the 90s my family missed our connecting flight so we weren’t seated next to each other on the next flight. I was 8-9 years old at the time and I was ok with it. If anything, it made me miss being with my siblings but also enjoyed talking to a stranger (though he probably thought I asked too many questions.) lol. One thing I also remember is the stranger teaching me how to tighten the seat belt on my own.

  17. For anyone younger than a teenager, the needs of the child come first. Period.

    Note to anyone with a different view: have a heart. You were a child, once. What if that child were you?

  18. So many passengers will not pay for seat selection and count on asking others to change seats for their own convenience that people are burned out and primed to say no automatically.

  19. I’m with the Mom on this one. She is likely not a frequent traveler and doesn’t know. The other person wouldn’t switch. She was less than 20-30 m.from the children under any circumstances, and there is no issue of molestation.. No, there is no issue of neglect (I assume, at 4 and 6 years old, both are toilet trained).

    For the children and the Mom – as far as I am concerned, it is a good lesson in independence and functioning at the end of a long leash.

    For the other passenger – karma, neh?

  20. In Europe, even the shittiest of airlines seat minors under 12 next to at least one of the parents. Impossible for a kid to be alone on a plane even if the parents choose the free, random seating option. Shouldn’t this be happening in the US as well? Not common sense that a 4 year old cannot be without a parent on a plane???

  21. So, why didn’t she ask the 2 people sitting next to her if they wanted to swap with the kids?

    Same question to @Paul?

    Did you consider asking the person sitting next to you if they’d swap with your daughter?

    I suspect the answer to all this is the kid/s were sitting further up the plane.

  22. I was seated next to a perfectly behaved 7 or so year girl for JAC-ATL last month. Her mother was in the row ahead of us. Mom didn’t ask anyone to swap, she just passed a few snacks back to her daughter, who had her earphones on so she could play with games and videos that had been loaded on her tablet before the flight, and only looked up for snack time.

    Sometimes screens are awesome when deployed in that way.

  23. Several absurd responses to Paul above.

    @Ritz – “You had the option of NOT taking that re-booked flight, and confirming seats together on a different flight.”

    Get real. This is rarely a realistic option when the cause is flight cancellations and not just your party misconnecting. If you don’t take the first flight you’re given, there’s no telling when you might get to your destination.

    @Patti – Did you actually read what Paul wrote? That’s exactly what he did. He asked his daughter’s seatmate first because his own seatmate hadn’t boarded yet.

  24. I have talked about my one situation like this before but I’ll repeat myself and elaborate a little more. My older autistic son was going to stay with his dad. So I booked plane seats for me and my younger son. Plans changed and I made a reservation for the other son. Now I would check and see if there were 3 vacant seats together but at the time I showed up for the flight and just asked the flight attendant if they could get my son seated next to us. They asked the passengers and one agreed. My son could have sat away from me but I was thinking of the passenger that wasn’t familiar with autism. I don’t think they would have wanted to sit by my son for very long.

  25. Yeah, I read it @tda 1986.

    I also read where he called the guy a d-bag for not being willing to move back 2-3 rows.


  26. Kids are kids, not monsters, unlike some adults. I have no problem being seated next to one who is not near a parent. They will usually talk and become familiar with seatmates similar to what they do at school. Changing seats for inferior ones is not going to happen.

  27. She’s happy to leave her young kids unattended to teach some stranger a lesson, then rants about it like she’s the injured party?

    A comedian for sure.

  28. I can’t even count the millions of good things that have happened to me because I AM NICE. I dress well, and I am NICE when travelling. I never hesitate to ask for what I want or need. It’s getting easier all the time, since half the populace is now a bunch of dopes with no manners. They treat airline and hotel people like not-too-bright servants. That permeates down to how they treat almost everyone. We who are polite and nice are reaping the benefits more and more every year.

  29. Why didn’t Mom take the seat of the 6-year-old so she would be next to the 4-year-old? A 6-year old can handle being by themselves much better than a 4-year old can.

  30. In the airline world, a long, long time ago, changing seats was not a problem. Prior to the consolidation of twenty some airlines into The Big Three, load factors in the 80% range were considered good and there were vacant seats to choose from . . . usually in the smoking section. But that was a long, long time ago when passengers “dressed up”, airlines employed stewardesses and bus depots had a monopoly on the side shows.

  31. Hey, I’ve got seats in the FRONT of the plane, would you like to switch your seat from the rear to the front so I can sit in the back with my children, said no one EVER.

  32. So purposely seat the 4yo and 6yo next to a stranger while she sat alone? She didn’t let the 6 yo sit alone while she sat next to her 4yo? OK, so she’s saying parenting is less important than showing up a stranger that is perfectly within their right to keep the seat that they likely PAID EXTRA for.

    I would have talked shit about their mother to her kids the entire flight. Teach them new swear words. Tell them to tell their mom that she’s a fat ugly dirty slut. You forgo your parenting duties, this is what you get.

    Entitled parents: stop pushing your wants on others. If you want seats together, book them. If not available and you still choose to book, you better be prepared to offer more than nothing to other passengers to switch.

  33. Parents always book seats next to their kids. The reason they are separated is because there are either no seats together or the family at time of booking (would have to be a relatively late booking, which is generally unusual for families who plan around school calendars in advance) or was rebooked due to a missed flight/connection/cancelation that is probably the airlines fault to begin with (yes, the family could miss the flight, but most families are arriving extra early to deal with food, bathroom etc). This should be an airline policy, like what I think United rolled out recently (its on the airline to move other passengers so family sits together).

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