why i need a chaperone when flying

User error or bad design? You decide.

Yesterday as I boarded my connecting flight in Atlanta I glanced at my ticket and realized I had no idea where my seat was located on the plane. G38 I wondered? Where is row G? My prior Delta flight didn’t have a row G. I looked at the ceiling to find the letter diagrams Delta airlines uses to designate the seat columns. AB, CD, EF, but no G. I reviewed my ticket to be certain I hadn’t forgotten how to read over the course of the two hours I sat waiting in the terminal – but there it was again – G38.

I will admit, for a second I got excited thinking that perhaps G is up front with the pilots. Maybe I get to sit in the cockpit and help navigate! But then I remembered how much my ticket actually cost and safety regulations and realized that was definitely not the case. So naturally I began panicking.

A small line began to grow in back of me as I tried to determine where my seat was located. What if there was a mistake in the ticketing? What if I am stuck in Atlanta I wondered?

Turns out I was standing in first class and my seat was all the way in the back in coach. You know, where you have to pay to eat a bad sandwich and are forced to use a separate restroom. It has been years since I have used an another airline besides Jetblue, Virgin America or Southwest, and I somehow forgot that some passengers are more special than others.

Now if it’s been awhile since you last traveled on a 767 airplane – the set up in coach is as follows: two seats, followed by an aisle, three seats, another aisle, then two more seats. Hence AB/ CDE /FG.

Once I actually found row 38 I looked at the lettering and was thrilled to learn that I was seated on the aisle and wouldn’t have to crawl over another sleeping passenger to exit. (I have great kidneys). My unknown partner would have the window seat. How lovely. I happily unpacked my carry on, buckled up and turned on my iPod. I was set.

Then my neighbor arrived. I unbuckled and stepped out into the aisle to let him pass. He paused and looked quizzically at me.

HIM: Do you want the window?
ME: No I am in G. I am good.
HIM: [nods slowly] I don’t mind being on the aisle …
ME: No, that’s alright. I am in G.
HIM: [looking confused] Are you sure you don’t want the window? I don’t mind either way.
ME: [growing exasperated. why is he trying to steal my seat?!!!] No, thanks. I’m all good. I’m in G.

[a mild stare down occurs until I am tapped on the shoulder by the passenger to my left]

OTHER GUY: I think you are in his seat.
ME: [look up at the lettering, which appeared to point in a different direction from the sitting down position. Realize I am totally in the wrong seat and everyone is staring at me. Feel incredibly dumb.] I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to hijack your seat!
HIM: [jaw drops] No, no. It’s fine …

While I am uncertain if I have an undiagnosed case of mild dyslexia, was just overtired, or subconsciously vying for the aisle seat, regardless, that and the combination of my poor word choice totally worked. I maintained control of the aisle seat, and everyone on board avoided communicating with me for the duration of the flight. Excellent.

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