Empty Seats? Yes please. Then Disappointment

On one flight from Singapore to Milan (Italy) several years ago, I asked at check-in whether the flight was full and was told no, there were seats available. Reason why I asked is when I booked my forward section seat in Economy I had a whole row to myself but then when I checked a day or so before departure someone took the window seat. I had the aisle seat and was hoping to score all three to myself. So I decided to change seats at check-in. By doing this I was wasting the money I spent for the forward section seat. No big deal as an empty row anywhere, even in the tail section, trumps a single forward section seat.

The check-in agent said there were three seats midway back in row 55 so I replied, “yes please, I want those and please block the other two seats”. He did. When I got there it looked like all was going to plan until the last passengers boarded. Again I had the aisle seat. A woman then says, “the window seat is mine”. I was bemused. After she settled in, I asked her how she managed to get the seat when they were supposed to be blocked. She said, she used the kiosk to check-in and the seat was available!

It seems the system can be overridden, and a machine can do this. Suffice to say I was disappointed. Even more disappointed when I went to see my original seat in the forward section and check who was in that row. There was a lady sitting in the window seat. So I came back several times to see if she was taking advantage of the whole row and lying down across them. No, she wasn’t. Would you believe she sat up all way through the 12 or so hour flight sleeping with her head leaning against the window? She never took the opportunity to have a better sleep lying down. Who knows why? Argh.

So what is the moral of this story? Well, it seems you are not one hundred percent guaranteed a whole row even after the check-in agent says they are. All I can think is that it is possible the airline rep, that sometimes hangs around check-in, may have done some overriding. Or it could have been my very early check-in. It was early evening and the flight wasn’t until 11pm. I wanted to spend some time in the lounge. So this huge time gap may have contributed. I’m not sure.

Anyway, the lady that sat in the window seat across from me made up for the loss. We had a good conversation and turned my moment of disappointment into an enjoyable time. It also made it easier to relax and get some sleep sitting up instead of lying down.


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