Man Refuses To Let Other Airline Passenger Sit In The Empty Seat Next To Him Because He'd Already Paid For It

Airline passengers are passionately defensive over their space, and rightfully so.

Airline passenger stands angrily in airplane aisle. Inside Creative House, Matej Kastelic /

Airplanes are often tense environments — you're in a confined space, up in the air, with hundreds of frustrated travelers grappling with the stress of navigating airports, lost luggage, and uncomfortable proximity to strangers. 

It's exactly what one Reddit airline passenger desperately tried to avoid on his three-hour flight with an anxious friend who had never flown before. However, buying an extra seat in their row wasn’t enough to combat social interaction or the heated exchange it escalated to.


A man refused to let another airline passenger sit in a seat he paid for so they could talk to friends on the flight.

“We were seated on the left side,” the man started his since-deleted Reddit post. “I paid extra for the third seat in our row because my friend has severe social anxiety, and this was her first time flying. She was sitting by the window, and I sat next to her.”

@redditdramaa AITAH for telling a guy rhe empty seat is not available because we paid for it? #redditdramaa #redditstories #redditreadings #askreddit #fyp ♬ original sound - Reddit Drama

RELATED: Traveler Sparks Debate By Insisting That Airplane Window Shades Should Stay Up At All Times 'By Default'


Should you be able to purchase an extra seat on an airplane that nobody is going to sit in? 

For stand-by frequenters and constant economy flyers, it seems like a scam — but it’s more common than you might think. Whether you’re a larger-bodied person, flying with kids, or simply looking for some extra leg space, a great deal of passengers buy (or in some cases, are forced to buy) an additional seat.

Being that this plane passenger's friend had "severe social anxiety" and it was their first time flying, it's understandable that he purchased an extra seat to ensure comfort and space. 

And everything seemed fine at first — even after takeoff, his friend was doing well and they were enjoying the flight — until another airline passenger approached.

“This guy came over and sat on the armrest of the empty seat to talk (very loudly) to his relatives seated on the other side,” the man wrote. “I immediately tapped him on the back and told him the seat was not available because we paid for it.”


Airplane interior Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock

Instead of acknowledging the man and simply standing up to talk with his family — which is already a controversial thing to casually do while 10,000 feet up in the air — he started to complain. “He stood up and started loudly complaining about it to his relatives and mocking me,” he wrote. “After that, he stood next to us in the aisle for the majority of the flight … being loud and very gestural.”

Throughout the flight, the man invaded the Reddit poster's space and talked very loudly, to the point that a flight attendant told him to "keep it down." But no one was able to corral the man back to his assigned seat. "I feel like the staff should have done more about it,” he added.


RELATED: Man Loses His Cool Over Crying Baby On A Plane But Some Can't Help But Relate — 'Did That Baby Pay Extra To Yell?!'

Considering the airline passengers’ rude response, commenters supported the man’s refusal — ‘No amount of complaining changes that you paid for it.’

“I don't fly often, so I wouldn't know, but aren't you supposed to remain seated unless you have a good reason not to?” the airline passenger asked readers. “Even after the flight, he kept going on about it to his relatives and giving me dirty looks, but I just laughed at him because I [felt] he was making a spectacle.”

While there’s not some undercover airplane etiquette book that reminds passengers not to talk loudly on the plane or take up an uncomfortable amount of space on purpose — it’s common courtesy that you try to make the experience comfortable for everyone. It’s why this man purchased the extra seat in the first place, only to have it commandeered by someone standing for the duration of the flight.

@brunchwithbabs With the holidays quickly approaching it reminds me that we all may need a little refresher on airplane etiquette.Here are my Do’s and Don’ts for airplane etiquette.✈Don’t struggle to get in and out of your seat. ✈Do use the little hidden button on the bottom of the armrest to lift the armrest and give yourself plenty of room to slip in and out of your seat. ✈Don’t bring food on the plane that has a strong odor.✈Do take care to pick airplane food that is easy to eat and odor free like cold salads or sandwiches.✈Don’t hog the armrests.✈Do let the person in the middle have access to the armrests.They are stuck in the middle seat afterall.✈Don’t use your fellow passenger as a pillow. ✈Do lift the little flaps on the headrest to create the perfect little nook for your head to rest in.✈Don’t bum rush the exit (unless of course you have a tight connection.)✈Do, take your time and wait your turn to disembark.And whatever you do….don’t forget to enjoy your trip and thank your crew at the end of your flight for getting you there safe and sound.#holidaytravel #holidayrush #airplane #ediquette ♬ original sound - Babs

Commenters agreed that the poster didn’t do anything wrong and, truthfully, should’ve caused a scene trying to get help from airplane staff. “You’re absolutely not the [expletive] But, next time, be less passive," one user advised. "Page a flight attendant as many times as you need. ‘This gentleman is harassing us over a seat we paid for' This gentleman is sticking his [butt] in my face.’ Make it the flight attendant's problem and the problem will get dealt with.”


Everyone, including the flight staff, deserves to have a safe and comfortable flight — so before you get up from your seat, chat loudly, or even recline your seat, try to at least consider a little empathy and compassion for the strangers around you.

RELATED: Couple Flying Southwest Called Out For Blocking An Aisle Seat While Searching For The ‘Perfect’ Passenger

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.