Father’s plan to swap aisle seats with passenger sparks debate on airplane etiquette: ‘Never switch’

A woman has recounted the “insane plane behaviour” she witnessed on her recent flight, and it has sparked a debate about airplane etiquette.

In a viral video posted to TikTok, user Alex Bennett (@justalexbennett) recalled how a father asked a fellow plane passenger to swap seats with him so that he could sit with his two children. However, the father wasn’t entirely honest about what seat he’d be swapping the man for.

“I witnessed the most insane plane behaviour on the way here,” Bennett began the video, which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times since it was posted. She explained that she was sitting behind a man in the aisle seat when a father walked up to the man with his two children and asked if he could take his seat.

“He’s like: ‘Hey man, my kids have [the] middle and window [seats] and I’ve got this aisle across. Do you mind swapping me aisle to aisle?’” Bennett recalled.

When the man asked the father if he would be switching his purchased aisle seat for another aisle seat across from them, the TikToker claimed that the father hesitated before giving an answer.

“The dad pauses and he said: ‘Middle or aisle? Yeah, aisle,” she shared.

The man – who she noted was “a bigger, older man” – ended up swapping aisle seats with the father so he could sit next to his children, before another woman walked up to the man and informed him that he was now sitting in her seat. “She’s like: ‘Hey, I’m the aisle seat here.’ And he’s like: ‘Oh, I traded with that guy. He said he was the aisle seat,’” Bennett explained.

At that point, however, the father who had asked to swap seats refused to look up from his phone during the debacle. “The dad had the middle seat, and I think he knew it,” Bennett said. Nevertheless, the man “could not have been nicer” and got up from his seat once again to switch to the middle seat in the row.

“I totally understand a dad wanting to sit with his kids, no question. But I think you gotta tell the guy: ‘I’m middle. I need a solid here because I need to sit with my kids.’ But you can’t say you’re the aisle and then the girl’s addressing it,” Bennett chimed in.

She wrote over the viral clip, “Airplane etiquette trading seats,” and captioned the post: “Airplane etiquette is crazy.”

In the comments section, many people were appalled that the father “lied” to the man about his ticketed plane seat and refused to clarify the situation.

“Absolutely not. I would have been like: ‘Sorry dude, you gotta switch back since you lied to me,’” one TikTok user commented under Bennett’s video.

“I would have asked him why he lied, in front of his kids. The kids will remember the confrontation,” another person wrote.

“Deal breaker,” a third user said. “If he wouldn’t be willing to switch back, a flight attendant would be called.”

Meanwhile, others admitted that they refuse to swap sweats with strangers on an airplane, like one person who said: “A plane is the only place you won’t catch me being a people pleaser. My seat is my seat.”

“This is why my answer is no! Every damn time,” said someone else, while another user wrote: “Never switch.”

In recent months, there’s been an ongoing debate surrounding proper etiquette for swapping seats on planes. In July, a CEO went viral when she refused to switch seats with a mother who wanted to sit next to her two children on a flight. Tammy Nelson, the CEO of global jewellery brand CONQUERing, shared on TikTok that she was flying on a Delta Air Lines flight from Cincinnati, Ohio to San Jose, California, when she noticed a woman sitting in her window seat.

“I got on the plane and a woman was sitting in my seat and when I mentioned it to her, she said, ‘Oh, you want to sit here? I thought we could switch because these are my kids,’” Nelson recalled. “I said, ‘As long as it’s a window seat, I’m happy to switch.’ She points to the row behind us and says, ‘Mine is right there.’ It’s the middle seat.”

She said the mother was reportedly “super annoyed” that Nelson had refused to switch seats, before moving back to her own middle seat.

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