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Karma Is Coming In For A Landing

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 20, 2022

I’m flying to Greece from London on what will be my first holiday since before the global health crisis. The total flight time is expected to be more than four hours, so I spend a bit extra and book myself on an over-wing exit seat. Whilst these seats have extra leg room, passengers occupying them are legally required to assist the flight attendants in the event of an emergency.

I board the aircraft and find another passenger occupying my seat.

Me: “Excuse me, sir? You are occupying my seat.”

The passenger turns his head to face me.

Passenger: “No English.”

Okay, he’s not English. No big deal. I motion to him with my ticket that he is in my booked seat and ask him to move. However, the passenger still does not get the message; smiling and just saying, “Okay!” in return. This is during boarding on a flight full of expectant holiday goers, so there is already a queue of impatient passengers behind me.

I try to grab the attention of the flight attendants by ringing the call bell. Finally, one arrives to assess the issue.

Me: “Hello, I—”

Flight Attendant: “Sir, you need to take your seat, please. You are preventing us from completing boarding.”

Me: “Yes, well, that’s the problem. I have booked this seat here, which this passenger—” *gestures to the gentleman* “—is sitting in.”

Flight Attendant: “Okay, just take any seat, sir. In fact, I can sit you there.”

She motions to a seat behind the exit rows as all the other seats on the over-wings are taken.

Me: “You will not sit me there. I have booked and paid for this seat and would like to occupy this seat.”

Eventually, the cabin supervisor arrives. She promises to correct the problem before we leave. Since I’m holding up passengers already, I take the seat offered. However, when boarding completes, neither the first flight attendant nor the supervisor bothers to return to correct the problem. Just as the supervisor prepares to shut the aircraft door, I press the call bell once more and make a beeline to the front.

Me: “I’m sorry, you still have not moved me—”

Supervisor: “Sir, we are about to begin takeoff. Just take your seat!”

Me: “I would love to if you could move the person occupying it!”

Supervisor: “Sir, I can call the police if you like and have you removed from the plane. You are causing a disruption.”

I’m fuming, but not wanting to risk police involvement or my job with this same airline, I give up and return to my non-booked seat. As I just mentioned, I am an experienced member of this airline as an attendant, but I have not given this information to the crew yet.

During takeoff, I notice several problems with the man sitting in my seat. First, he requests and is given an extension seatbelt. These are used for infants or overweight passengers and SHOULD NOT be used for passengers on the over-wing rows. Second, he has several items of loose materials in and around his seat, which is never permitted during takeoff or landing. The gentleman is breaking so many rules, but even worse, the crew member who is doing the pre-takeoff checks for this row does not bother to correct it, nor does the supervisor.

I take photographs of all of the things I see. Two hours into the flight, I pluck up the courage to speak to the supervisor.

Me: “Excuse me. Can I have a word?”

Supervisor: *Rolls her eyes* “What now, sir?”

Me: “I just think you need to see this…”

I showed her the photos I’d taken. She initially tried to protest that I was taking photos of the plane unauthorised by her, which was ridiculous. I then informed her of my position in the same airline, as well as the fact that once we landed, I was going to report both her and the flight attendant for their lack of competence in correcting the issues with the man in that seat. I never once mentioned my dissatisfaction with having my seat changed.

Once she became aware of my intention to report her, the supervisor’s attitude changed completely. She offered to place me in the seat I was meant to be sitting in on departure. I laughed in her face and refused; the only reason why she was doing so now was because of the very serious breach of safety she had caused.

Last I heard, she was demoted. My vacation was awesome!

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