A man recently earned praise after he filmed himself confronting a fellow train passenger who was sitting in the seat he’d purchased ahead of time.
The positive response to the viral footage of the man insisting he be allowed to sit in the seat he’d booked came after an influencer recently earned similar applause for refusing a request to swap seats on a plane so that a family could sit together.
“No I’m not switching for a middle seat, book your flights earlier babes,” influencer Audrey Peters captioned the equally viral video in March.
The pair are not alone in their experiences, as social media has recently become inundated with stories of travellers who have been asked to swap seats with fellow passengers wishing to sit with a friend or a family member, or simply because they’d prefer a better seat.
However, as the responses to the viral videos suggest, most travellers aren’t open to seat swap suggestions. And, according to travel etiquette, they don’t have to be.
To find out whether there’s ever a time when it’s appropriate or acceptable to ask to swap seats with a fellow traveller on a plane or a train, or any form of transportation where seats are pre-booked, we sought the advice of Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.
Speaking to The Independent, Gottsman said that there is only one acceptable scenario where a traveller may ask a fellow passenger to switch seats, and that even then, it is only justifiable if the passenger has first tried other ways of remedying the situation.
According to Gottsman, the acceptable scenario refers to a parent or guardian who found “there is no possible way” through pre-planning that they could have been seated next to their young child, at which point “of course it’s understandable” to ask a fellow passenger to swap.
However, Gottsman noted that, even in a case involving a young child, “it’s always best to ask a ticket agent or someone from the travel company if there is a possibility of changing or switching seats before you board the plane or train,” as “asking a fellow passenger puts the person you are asking in an awkward position” and relies on their “goodwill”.
If you’re hoping to change your seat for any other reason, it’s typically…