Question: Would You Be Thankful? Embarrassed? Offended?

by Kenlie Tiggeman on July 5, 2014

I wrote this while traveling to New York yesterday, but I got distracted before posting it.  I’m still curious about the answer to the question so please take a minute to hear me out.

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I’m currently on a flight to New York City, and when I arrived at the gate I learned that I would not be sitting in first class today. We’ve been through this. My anxiety level drops to zero when I know I’ll be seated in a 21 in. seat, but it rose quickly today as I realized that I was about to board a tiny airplane.

Prior to boarding I had a conversation with a woman named Alice. She’s around my height, but she’s on the smaller side of average in weight. Our conversation, which started with last-minute flight prices eventually led to the size of seats, how the industry could make flying more comfortable for passengers while continuing to make money.

I shared all of my typical thoughts and ideas, but it didn’t solve today’s dilemma.
The seats on this plane are less than 16.9 inches. I prepare for every flight by making sure that I know the size of the seat before I choose a ticket. I check and double-check, but Delta representatives don’t always provide accurate information. I’m not complaining. I get it. Most people don’t call in with these questions, but I’d be willing to guess that I’m not the only one who inquires.

Anyway, I when I realized that I wasn’t sitting in a 21 in. seat, I got a little nervous. I didn’t panic the way I used to because it’s usually fine, but I was concerned.

Once I boarded I realized that I’d be fine. The lady sitting next to me was friendly and not at all bothered by me. I told her that the flight attendant would try to move one of us once everyone had boarded, but she insisted that she was fine. I told the flight attendant that if she was fine, I was fine, and a woman on the other side of the aisle offered her space so we switched.

I explained that I didn’t want to encroach on anyone’s space, nor did I think that my comfort was more important, etc. They thought I was silly for worrying about bothering them, and we departed without issue.

Alice, who was sitting in first class, came back and chatted for a few minutes, and she asked how I would feel if she offered me her seat. She said wanted to know if people, in general, would consider it offensive, and I explained that I couldn’t speak for everyone. I think I’d be grateful for the offer, and I’d survey the circumstances before deciding whether or not to accept the offer.

There was a time when I was drowning in insecurity and pride, and I might not have responded well to the offer. That said, it seems like most people would be happy to be offered a seat with more space.

I didn’t take her seat. I’m fine in economy class, at least today, but it poses a question that I find interesting. If you’re reading this, please take a moment to answer.

If you were uncomfortable on a flight (due to your size) how would you feel if someone of average size offered you their roomier seat? Would you be thankful? Embarrassed? Offended?

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