The holy grail of airline seating is to have an open seat next to you to spread out. An empty row is the dream. Southwest Airlines lets you pick your own seat when you board. Would you pick this window seat, where the middle and aisle next to it are guaranteed to remain empty – because they’re out of service for being “wet”…?
The signs say “do not occupy” on the aisle and middle seats. You’re probably not going to spread your stuff out on those seats, but there won’t be any passengers spreading out into your space or fighting you for the armrest. But they are… Wet. With. Something.
I was once seated next to a passenger on an American Airlines flight where, upon boarding, the woman in the middle seat next to me realized that her seat cushion was wet. She told a flight attendant, “oh it’s just water.” The woman’s white pants had turned yellow where she sat. We had a brief delay while they swapped out the seat cushion on this full flight. She didn’t have a choice to make about where she sat – just about whether she’d take the flight, with the new cushion, while traveling in now-wet pants? (She did.)
Planes are frequently turned quickly, and they’re barely cleaned between flights. If someone “spilled” at that seat they may not have said anything to the airline, so nobody noticed. At least Southwest was aware of the condition of its seats, warned passengers, and didn’t let anyone sit in those. Next to them? Sure. Do so at your own risk and benefit!
Airlines won’t want to delay a flight to address a cleanliness issue if they can avoid it. Go in knowing that wherever you’re sitting hasn’t been cleaned. That’s up to you, if you care. Maybe just shower when you get home, wash your hands frequently, and bring a change of clothes in your carry on?
(HT: Points and PDBs)