Seat switching etiquette is – I think – fairly well established, at least here in the United States. You’re entitled to the seat on your boarding pass. If someone prefers a seat other than the one to which they’re assigned they should ask politely, but it’s entirely up to the person with the desired seat whether or not to switch. They can say no for any reason, or no reason.
If you want to switch seats it pays to have a generally desirable seat. Don’t offer me a bulkhead window seat in first class, or a middle seat by the lavatory in coach. If you have a poor seat and you’re asking to switch be extra nice, have an extra good reason, and even consider offering something (find a Coasian solution: offer your worse seat plus cash).
Nigerian social media is lit up about this question. Does a seat you’re assigned to belong to you, or does it belong to older passengers out of respect? What if the passenger who wants your seat is especially honored and respected?
Wole Soyinka was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature. He’s a well-respected Nigerian man, the first person from Africa to win that prize. He boards a plane and sits down in a window seat. Another passenger boards and finds the Nobel laureate sitting in his assigned seat. He’d like to sit there. Solinka moves.
A Nigerian politician sitting in the cabin snapped a photo and caused a stir online,
Met one of the greatest Nigerians walking the earth today and as with other times, he was genteel, witty, forthright and humble. My smile gives me away as he permitted the picture whereas he would have preferred to get back to his newspapers. Then we boarded the flight and after assisting him with his bags, he took the window seat and promptly started reading again.
A few minutes later this young man, baseball cap, t-shirt to show his muscled chest and tattooed biceps boards the plane and tells Prof he is on his seat (which he was).
Those of us including the cabin crew tried to reason with Bobo Fine to let the old man be but the chap refused. He insisted Prof should vacate his window seat, which the old man quietly did for his original aisle seat next to him.
I couldn’t understand how we got to this point where we no longer have respect for elders, even if we are so ignorant of the great global personalities in our midst. Is it too much to ask that an elderly man be allowed to remain in a seat allotted to you in the same business class cabin and the same row?
It seems to me that if the politician thought an injustice was being done, he might have offered to top off the seat change request himself. But it’s easier to stir outrage than to solve problems.
An aisle seat is superior to a window seat. perhaps what was needed here was simply helping the passenger with the assigned aisle seat understand that the deal being offered made him better off?
There are a number of strategies to employ to get a seat you prefer even if what you want isn’t available when you book. They’re all actionable, and not all of them are obvious.
However I don’t think age alone, nor Nobel Prizes, entitle anyone to something that belongs to someone else. I have to side with the passenger who didn’t want to give up his seat. And everyone was in business class so even in Nigeria we’re talking about first world problems.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)