“How to Get Your Way,” or “Crybaby on Flight 2282”

I have approximately 1500 emails in my gmail inbox (that’s not counting my “skip the inbox” folders, either). Every once in a while, I try to go through and delete things that I know I’ll never need to see again. Usually I get distracted and giggle to myself reading and reminiscing. This is a gem that I found yesterday – I wrote the following to a friend on 6/18/08 after a flight back from LAX.

So, yesterday I flew back to SA on Southwest Air. As you may or may not know, their boarding process is very similar to a cattle call (4 boarding groups each of 30 people or so). I was in the first part of the third boarding group and found myself a seat on the window by the wing. The guy sitting in the middle seat of my row (a nice older man, maybe 50-55 – we’ll call him Earl) had a briefcase sitting on the aisle seat next to him, saving it for his friend. Now, we all know that you’re not really supposed to save seats on SWA, but we also all know that everyone would much rather sit next to somebody they know than a possibly stinky or rude stranger, so it happens anyway and most people are ok with it. Notice that I said “most” people.

Well, at the end of boarding section 3, another man (probably about 50 years old, we’ll call him Morty) stopped at our row.

Morty: Can I sit there? (where Earl’s briefcase was saving the seat)
Earl: No, somebody else is sitting there.
M: Are they already on the plane?
E: No, he’s right there, two people behind you.
M: I’m going to sit here.
E: No you’re not.
M: Well, I boarded the plane first and I want to sit there.
E: No.
(now, keep in mind that this is happening around row 5 or so, and Morty is clogging the entire row and preventing the completion of the boarding process. There were still plenty of seats available.)
M: You’re not allowed to save seats here, that’s how it’s set up. I was here first and I want this seat so I’m going to sit here.
(at this point, Earl’s friend squeezes forward and around Morty and sits down in the seat that was being saved for him. Morty looks at him, stands his ground, and pushes the stewardess button)
The cute little airline attendant came up to our row and asked what the problem was. Morty explained that he was here first, and you weren’t allowed to save seats, and Earl was saving seats, and he wanted to sit there (where Earl’s friend was now seated). The stewardess had a bit of a dumb look, because – really? are these adults? wtf – and told Morty that she couldn’t make him move, and could she help Morty to find another seat?
M: No, I don’t want another seat, I want this seat.
Stewardess: Well, we can find you a better seat and I can get you a drink.
M: I don’t want a drink, I want to sit in this seat where I would have been sitting if he hadn’t been saving the seat, which is against the rules.
Stewardess: *stare*
Guy across the aisle: Well, just sit here, because I’VE GOT PLACES TO GO.

At that point, the guy across the aisle pulled his crap down from overhead storage, got up, and moved to the back of the plane. Morty said “thank you” and sat down in his new-found seat. I’m not exactly sure why he wanted to sit RIGHT THERE, but I’m not sure that if friend had moved it would have been the most pleasant flight anyway, what with him sitting next to the guy who now wants to stab his neck for crying so hard to make a stranger move out of HIS (unassigned) seat. Also, it was only a 55min flight, so what’s the big deal anyway? The main goal should be for everyone to TRY to keep everything copacetic, rather than cause a big hooha about NOTHING OF ANY IMPORTANCE TO ANYONE EVER.

After we landed, Morty immediately got up and blocked our row with his ass to allow everyone in the rows in front of us (even the stragglers, slow on purpose and just taking their time) to get their things and get off the plane. What a jerk.

Anyway, that was what happened yesterday.