For an Air Canada ("AC") flight, my grandma booked the aisle seat in a column with 2-seat configuration in Economy class. Her only seatmate kept getting up every 15 mins. This is too inconvenient for my grandma, who was hoping to nap. So she tried to negotiate:

She: Sorry to bother you. Will you be getting up a lot?
He: Yes sorry. I need to use the bathroom.
She: Would you like to change seats then?
He: No thanks. I prefer the window seat.

She asked the Service Director (AC's term for purser) for help, but Director said there were no other seats in economy class. She then asked for a seat in another class, but Director apologised and stressed that he can't elevate to other classes in this case. In effect, Director did nothing.

How could my grandma have convinced them to let her sit in another class?

EDIT: Some comments recommend booking a window seat, but my grandma can't righteously do this as she needs to get up regularly too, to stretch, (not every 15 mins. though). She prefers the window seat only if the seatmate gets up more than she, and this is the first time that happened.


4 Answers 4


What ought the cabin crew do?


I think that your best bet, if you ever got yourself in a situation like this again, would be to ask the crew, if you could be re-seated, if the flight is not fully booked. Of course, in the same class as the one of your purchased ticket.

Next time, please book a window seat (you can pay a bit extra for early check in, in order to make sure that you get it, but in general, if you check in as fast as the free check in opens, then you are going to find a window seat).

I assume that passenger was sitting in his seat (and not at an empty seat, where you argue to the crew that he is not sitting in his assigned seat), and has the right to use the bathroom at will, when the seatbelt sign is off.

My grandma doesn't like window seat

Then, as I said, your best bet is that someone from the crew reallocates her, after she informed them. However, notice that they don't have to do anything, but the grandma can target the human soul, and get a favor.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 19:17

As @gsamaras says, there is nothing the cabin crew can or should do. However I do think your grandma was a little passive. Her asking "Would you like to change seats?" indicates that it's no bother to her, she's just asking for the other person's convenience.

What would be worth trying, after the exchange in the question is for her to say:

Actually it's very inconvenient for me if I have to get up and let you out every fifteen minutes. I'm hoping to sleep. I think it would be much better for both of us if we changed seats.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 23:35

The crux of the question is when can a customer, in economy class, ask to be upgraded. In which situations?

How could {I / my spouse / we / any kin} have convinced them to let {me/her/him/us} sit in another class?

First and foremost, it seems that the OP should tell their family members that being upgraded to a seat due to an inconvenience is the exception, not the rule. If it were so easy to be upgraded then passengers would ask to be moved whenever they are seated near or next to…

  1. a colicky baby, or a child that is crying (screaming) for longer than ten minutes
  2. a co-passenger who has a very bad cold and/or seems feverish
  3. someone who never stops talking
  4. who snores in their sleep
  5. who is morbidly obese
  6. who uses both armrests
  7. who nods off to sleep on your shoulder
  8. who spreads their legs and/or invades your space (AKA “seat hogging”)
  9. who wears too much perfume/cologne/aftershave
  10. who leans over, repeatedly, in order to look outside the window.
  11. who is never off their mobile
  12. who takes off their shoes and puts their feet up
  13. who clips their toenails
  14. who picks their nose and inspects their snot
  15. who loudly unwraps sweets and/or sucks or chews gum noisily
  16. who brings smelly food from home to eat on the plane
  17. who picks their teeth
  18. teenagers (and non) who play games on their tablets with the sound on
  19. who unpacks their carryon because they're looking for their reading glasses/a book/nail clippers etc.
  20. who continually needs to visit the toilet/restroom

In all the above scenarios, the only thing a hapless traveller can hope for is to ask the offender to be more considerate (excluding the obese seatmate or the ill passenger) and/or to talk to one of the flight attendants on board and hope they can find a solution. And sometimes there is no solution, there is no remedy. You just have to suck it up.

When can you get an upgrade? Is answered here:
What techniques, tricks or otherwise have you used to get upgrades on flights?

And can you sneak into first/business class is answered here:
What are the chances of success and the consequences of sneaking into business class?


You don't have to get up every 15 minutes. If they have to go to the restroom every 15 minutes, then that is their problem, not yours. If they do not want to cooperate, that is also their problem.

FYI, you are obliged to follow crew instructions, not passenger instructions.

  • 2
    It can very swiftly become your problem. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 15:11
  • I have had to step over my seat mate when needing to get up, and if there is enough space to do so, it is well acceptable.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 16:41
  • 1
    You would really obstruct someone going to the restroom? Do you live your life in this way? Give a little, take a little, cut someone with a weak bladder or upset stomach some slack.
    – djna
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 16:50
  • 1
    @djna I wouldn't obstruct him going to the restroom, but I would obstruct them getting back into their seat. They can swap seats with me there and then if they wish to...
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 17:38
  • If they urinate, defecate, or throw up next to you, then it’s quickly your problem. I’d exchange seats.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 15:07

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