A Quick Recap of Sunday’s Flight to Amsterdam

I flew over to Amsterdam on Sunday night, and I thought I’d pass along a couple of quick notes:

– I flew Continental United over. Though I’m not as sad as when the Hartford Whalers decamped for North Carolina, I got a little choked up when I realized that I was never going to fly Continental again.

– In an effort to save my company money, I flew over in coach (though in an effort not to drive myself crazy, I’m flying back in business). I was able to grab the exit row aisle on the 757 (my preferred coach seat) when I booked the flight. When I checked my reservation a few days ago, though, I was moved to a non-exit row aisle. I freaked a bit, but then I remembered that they’ve installed Economy Plus on all 757s (all the coach rows ahead of the exit rows — that’s rows 7-12 if you’re keeping score at home). I checked back a day later, and I was able to grab the bulkhead aisle seat. Woo.

I get to the gate and I’m waiting to board and they call my name and ask me to come to the podium. I feel like I’ve won the lottery, as they’re clearly going to upgrade me, because why else would they call me to the podium right before we’re boarding?

Answer: to ask if I’ll switch from the best coach seat on the plane to either a seat in the non-reclining exit row or a middle seat in another row. Now, I’ve been the recipient of people’s generosity in the situation before, where I was traveling with family and we wanted to sit together. And I’ve certainly given up my seat on several occasions so others can sit together. But I decided that on an 8 hour overnight flight (or, in the case of the flight Sunday, 6 hours and 45 minutes) I was not giving up the good seat for a non-reclining seat. I told the agent (with a smile) that I’d pass on that offer.

…And the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. As it is written, For lo, He placeth the selfish traveler in the seat with the head of bulk. And he placeth the young child, with years of just fewer than 2, in the same row with the head of bulk. For when the traveler declineth to give up his seat, so shall he be forced to sit next to a young child who screameth. So sayeth the Lord…

– Those Economy Plus seats make a HUGE difference. Flying coach on a long flight on Continental always filled me with dread, because legroom (at 31″) was tight. Economy Plus seats change all that – I look forward to them retro-fitting the rest of the fleet.


  1. Heeere are your Hartford Whalers. Da da da dut dut dutdut da, da da datdat daaaaa.

    I think a lot of families with young kids select the bulkhead. I select it when I’m traveling with the young ones. On my last business trip alone, I made the mistake of selecting bulkhead and was punished when two parents with a very old lap infant took the two adjoining seats. Never again.

  2. Story made me laugh but I must say that’s a tough spot they put you in. It’s really not fair to ask you to be mega-uncomfortable on a long flight and yet they basically gave you the choice of being mega-uncomforatble or mega-uncomforatable. I feel like they should have offered some sort of compensation. I know it’s not their problem that a family booked a flight late and didn’t get seats together but still…

  3. Faced a similar dilemma on a Copa Airlines flight recently. Seven hours, had an aisle seat i needed for my long legs, and a newly married couple on their honeymoon has two middle seats in my row and the row in front. The guy was giving me the stink eye the whole time of boarding. Never asked for me to move, but was speaking openly of their dilemma and looking around at neighbors to see if someone would volunteer. In some cases I’d volunteer, but I made an effort to get that seat in advance and needed the rest.

  4. Didn’t you politely decline but ask the reason, and see if they’d offer you an operational upgrade, as you’d essentially be downgrading your comfort?