When planning a trip, some people take extra measures to ensure that they reserve a seat on the flight that works best for their family. This ensures that families can stick together in the same row or a tall person can stretch their legs in the aisle.
At the end of the day, it’s up to the passenger to ensure the best flight experience for themselves when it comes to seating — but sometimes airlines separate families or crowded flights mean that parties have to be separated unless everyone can find a creative solution.
Surya Garg expressed her frustrations in a now-viral TikTok video in which she explained that she sat next to “the absolute worst person” on a recent flight. The woman allegedly requested that she move from a window seat to a middle seat so that she could sit next to her teenaged son.
“I feel like this has been a big debate on TikTok recently, which is like, if you’re sitting in a seat and someone with a family comes up to you and says, ‘Hey, will you switch?’ Do you switch or not?” she said in the clip, where she’s apparently walking through an airport.
She goes on to preface her story with the clarification that she has no issues swapping seats with a mom so that she can sit with a small child. She gets it and even recalls when a good samaritan did this for her and her brother when she was a little girl.
However, on this particular flight, she was asked to switch seats by a woman who wanted to sit with her son, who looked like he was at least “16 or 17 years old,” and who was over 6 feet tall.
“This was not her child. He’s her kid, but like, he’s an adult,” she said in the video.
The TikToker said the woman’s ask would require Garg to give up her window seat for a middle seat farther back in the plane, which she considered to be a downgrade. She says she told the woman that she paid extra for her seat and didn’t want to move.
After their interchange, according to Garg, the woman started “muttering profanities” under her breath for the duration of the flight because the TikToker refused her request.
“Was I in the wrong here? I need someone to tell me,” she asked at the end of her video.
The video has amassed 1.1 million views and over 180k likes with thousands of other TikTok users weighing in on Garg’s dilemma. Most of whom sided with her and said she was not in the wrong for remaining in her assigned, paid for seat.
One user noted that the mom’s reaction to Garg’s refusal sums up exactly why she made the right choice in not moving. “The way she reacted is precisely why you should not give up your seat. Good job for sticking up for yourself,” they wrote.
“Honestly, you’re not wrong I think the kid has to be 12 or younger in order for me to move. Otherwise don’t even ask,” wrote another commenter.
Several parents also chimed in, noting that they do their best to plan ahead so that they don’t have to ask anyone to give up their seat. “Absolutely NOT! as a mom of 5 my husband and I split up with the kids, I have teens also and wouldn’t expect anyone to move for my family. THE NERVE,” they wrote.
Others chimed in with funnier takes on the whole mess. “That kid was def thrilled u said no and he didn’t have to sit next to her,” one joked.
“You’re not wrong. She just had separation anxiety from her 204 month old son,” another wrote sarcastically.
Of course, one thing no one mentioned was that you can’t really know why two family members want to sit together. Some disabilities are invisible, and you never know someone’s whole story, especially just from looking at them.
While some could argue that parents get the short end of the stick when flying due to extra fees, that might not be the case for long.
The Department of Transportation has released new guidelines that direct airlines to provide parents and children under 13 with adjacent seats at no additional cost.
The notice explains that airlines “should do everything that they can to ensure the ability of a young child (age 13 or younger) to be seated next to an accompanying adult (over age 13) family member or other accompanying adult, without charging fees for adjacent seating.”
Truly, we wouldn’t have to argue about this at all if airlines took the extra time and resources to make sure parties were seated together whenever possible.