Plane Passenger Refuses To Give Up Her Seat So A Family Could Sit Together — The Mother Calls Her “Heartless”

Even after offering an explanation for why she needed the seat, the mother persisted.

woman wont move on plane aita NadezhDA222 / Shutterstock, Reddit, and KT Paper Designs via Canva

In an increasingly interconnected world, where personal boundaries sometimes blur, asserting one’s needs can feel like a daunting task. A 22-year-old woman recently found herself in the crossfire of public scrutiny, a crying baby, and an insistent mother, all while wrestling with an invisible disability on an 8-hour-long transatlantic flight.

In search of validation and understanding, she turned to Reddit’s “r/AmItheA--hole” (AITA), a subreddit dedicated to people asking others if they acted appropriately in a situation. She questioned her decision to prioritize her well-being over the convenience of a family she didn’t know. 


The woman refused to give up her seat so a family could sit together.

Booked months in advance, her bulkhead aisle seat on the eight-hour flight from Europe to the US was not an indulgence. She lives with an invisible disability resulting in extensive nerve damage and severe chronic pain, so she chose her seat strategically. The positioning offered her vital relief in the form of additional legroom for slouching and easy access to stand and move about, mitigating the discomfort that intensifies when seated upright.

She had selected her spot to limit the inconvenience to others and manage her pain better.


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woman won't move on plane reddit postPhoto: Reddit

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However, a family of three had different plans. Boarding soon after her, the mother and toddler took the two seats next to her, leaving the father in a window seat rows behind. 


“As soon as they were settled in, the mom turned to me and asked me to switch seats with her husband so he could be there to help with the baby,” she wrote. 

She politely declined and, when pressed, explained her disability and why she needed the seat. Undeterred and disbelieving, the mother dismissed her reasoning as “a load of bs.” The mother continued to hassle her, resorting to insults and derogatory comments.

Eventually, a flight attendant intervened, yet the mother’s displeasure found a new form: speaking ill of the woman to the toddler and loudly communicating with her husband across the rows. 

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The woman held her ground despite the discomfort and the barrage of disapproving looks from fellow passengers.

She knew the ordeal she would face by moving to another seat. Even so, the judgment from her co-passengers gnawed at her because most of them didn’t hear her reasoning! Though, one man who did, gave her a sympathetic smile of understanding.

Besides the rudeness, she couldn’t understand why the family didn’t buy tickets to sit together.  “I just feel like, if they wanted to sit together, why didn’t they buy 3 tickets next to each other in the first place?” she wrote.

Several people replied to the thread and clarified why the family may not have done so.

woman refuses to give up seat on plane reddit threadPhoto: Reddit


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“They could have easily offered to switch with the people sitting next to Dad and they might have enjoyed the extra legroom and earlier deplaning. But she didn’t really need her whole family together, she wanted them together in the BETTER seating,” one person replied.

“They very likely made their own bed by deciding to get the two bulkhead seats and gamble they would be able to badger their way into the third rather than getting 3 seats together further back in the plane,” another added.


She replied that she’s “pretty new to flying alone,” so if a similar situation arises, she’ll know what to look for.

Her story serves as a reminder to all passengers: seats are not merely seats. To some, like her, they might be a necessity for a pain-free journey.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news and human interest stories.