Airlines

Is United’s Bad Press Changing Passenger Behavior?

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In all the years I’ve been flying, I’ve never seen this happen. I had the aisle seat, the passenger next to me was in the middle seat, and the window seat was unoccupied. The entire 3+ hour flight.

Typically the minute the plane doors close, or even before, passengers quickly move from middle seats into the adjacent aisle or window seats if it’s open. Or if someone is in a full row, they’ll sometimes move across the aisle or up a few rows to spread out. If not before takeoff, then as soon as the seat belt sign goes off.

But the passenger next to me did not. It even seemed like she were traveling with someone seated a row back, but no attempt was made to sit together. She didn’t sleep and only needed to get up once, so zoning or proximity to the aisle wasn’t prompting it.

Our few interactions were pleasant but there was no rapport, so asking her if she wanted to move to the window seat felt a little rude, as did satisfying my curiosity about she wasn’t moving. But I’m still puzzled.

All the horror stories in the news was the only explanation I could come up with. All those recent articles about United (and other airline) passengers scolded or even removed from flights when they moved from their assigned seat.

Have you had this happen? Does it seem like passenger behavior is changing in the last couple of months?

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