Child-free flights? Maybe just parent-free

After visiting Mexico for the first time and having a wonderful time in beautiful Tulum, it was time to return to reality.  So on Sunday, I checked into my United flight from Cancun bound for Newark.  I was a little hungover from the wedding the night before, tired and generally bitter about having to leave Tulum and return to work.  Why would I I have expected to have a smooth and pleasant journey home?

Upon boarding the plane…  

Me: Um, I think you’re in my seat.

Woman in my aisle seat: Yes, but I need to sit here because we’re traveling with a child [motioning to a 6 – 8-year old girl in the middle seat and presumed mother of child in the window seat, making seat-stealer an aunt or grandmother?]

Me: But…

Seat-stealer: We already spoke to the stewardess [yes, she called her a stewardess] so just talk to her to sort it out.

I look at the flight attendant and around at all the other people she is trying to get seated.

Seat-stealer: Why don’t you sit in that seat? [pointing to aisle seat across from her]

Me: [stating the obvious] There appears to be someone currently sitting in that seat.

Teenage boy sitting in that aisle seat: Oh, this isn’t my seat.

My brain: [am I being punked right now?  Oh god, that show “Punk’d”.  That was Ashton Kutcher, right?  How long ago was that?  Was that when he was married to Demi Moore?  Is he with Mila Kunis now?  Didn’t they have a baby?    This is not helping my hangover.]

The chaos the flight attendant is dealing with is starting to make more sense.

Teen’s mother: We wanted to sit together.

Teenager: But you can have my seat if you want.  It’s a few rows up.

Me: Is it–

Teenager: But it’s a middle seat.

Me: Yeah, no.  No deal.

Finally everyone appears to have a seat but me.  The harried flight attendant asks me to find a seat.

Me: Happy to.  I will sit anywhere but a middle seat and I’m not checking my bag.  So just find a place to stow my bag and a window or aisle seat.

Flight attendant: [pointing] Ok, there’s this seat, this seat, or this seat.

Me: Fine.  I’ll take that window seat.

Middle seat woman: Actually, we’re traveling with a child–

Man a few rows ahead of her: Yeah, so we were hoping–

My brain:

My mouth: OK, how about that seat?

Flight attendant: I think that one’s fine.

Me: Great.  Can you find a place for my bag?

Flight attendant: [opening overhead bin] Whose is this?

Presumed father who had just piped up: Oh, I can keep that here. [grabs comically large sombrero from flight attendant]

My brain

My mouth: Great.  Thanks.

I buckle up in an aisle seat several rows behind the seat I had reserved.  The middle seat, who I soon gather is Eastern European or Russian, repeatedly swipes her credit card in the screen the wrong way, sighing loudly, muttering under her breath.  After around 10 minutes, she finally calls the flight attendant over to ask why it isn’t working.  Then over the next 4 hours:

  • Window seat goes to the bathroom at least 4 times.
  • Middle seat goes to the bathroom twice, never at the same time as window seat.

People have asked me why I never voiced any objections.  I think part of this had to do with my incredulity that it was actually happening.  At no point did anyone — seat-stealers or flight attendants — ever say “please,” “thank you,” or apologize for inconveniencing me.  But of course, what matters the convenience of a hungover, single brown chick over that of our precious, coddled future?  Plus, I’m not generally one to cause a scene but that’s probably just what these entitled parents are counting on.

But seriously, no one could buy me a drink?

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