Seat swapping on planes is a hot topic – but what ARE the do’s and don’ts? A travel expert has clarified the unwritten rules
What are the do’s and don’ts of seat swapping? Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK travel site, offers some advice on an Instagram video
The etiquette of seat swapping on planes has become the hottest of hot topics on social media.
Passengers have been posting stories of woe and frustration after asking fellow flyers to exchange places – and being refused. And often, they receive little in the way of sympathy.
But what are the do’s and don’ts of seat swapping? Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK travel site, offers some advice on an Instagram video.
He says: ‘It’s fair to say we have all been tempted to swap our plane seats for several reasons, from wanting to sit beside loved ones or to be by the window, basking in the glorious views.
‘However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.’
Firstly, says Nicky, anyone asking for a seat swap should bear in mind that seat assignments can be costly – or require elite status.
Secondly, make sure your offer is attractive.
Nicky says: ‘Only better or equivalent exchanges should be offered – you don’t want to end up with less than what you had before.
‘Maybe you lose an aisle seat – but you gain some legroom in a bulkhead seat.
‘Or you trade your window seat next to the toilet for a middle seat at the front of the main cabin.’
He adds: ‘If you want to sit near your spouse, or you have a tight layover, it’s okay to ask for a comparable seat, but if the swap isn’t equal, it’s best to only request it on special situations i.e, caring for a companion or reuniting a family with young children.
‘But even then, it’s still a heated debate.’
He’s not wrong.
Anyone asking for a seat swap, says Nicky, should bear in mind that seat assignments can be costly – or require elite status
After posting a video about the subject on the Points Guy UK Instagram page, the comments flew in.
One user, Aikezim, said: ‘I never agree to it. I always pre-book my seats, which most of the time costs extra, so if someone asks me to swap just so they can sit together, I say sorry, no. People who don’t pre-book their seats make the decision to risk where they end up sitting.’
‘Siobhan_obc’ agreed, stating: ‘Everyone knows if you want to sit together book the seats in advance. I never understand families with young children not booking seats together.’
‘Clarekingy’ pointed out, however, that it’s not always as straightforward as that, writing: ‘Sometimes [seats together] are not available, so they book where they can and hope for kindheartedness.’
‘Walker.mangum’ joined in the debate by suggesting that ‘a few hours of separation will do most of these people some good’.
But what if a parent and a young child are separated?
Points Guy UK follower ‘gorgeousgregwise’ recalled how he was separated on a flight from his four-year-old, as he couldn’t afford the $60 fee to choose seats. He commented: ‘I get I had no choice in seats but she was identified as a child when I booked. I was distraught. Anyway, someone was kind enough to swap so we could sit together… a little compassion goes a long, long way.’
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