'No': Internet Backs Couple Refusing to Swap Plane Seats with 'Scared' Girl

A holidaying couple has been commended for refusing to bow to pressure from another passenger who asked them to switch seats so her young daughter, who is "scared of flying," could sit next to her.

Fear of flying, or aviophobia to give it its technical term, affects a significant proportion of the global population.

According to figures compiled in a study by researchers from the School of Behavioral, Cognitive and Social Sciences at the University of New England in Australia, around 40 percent of all flyers have experienced some form of anxiety when traveling by air.

Meanwhile, for 2.5 percent it is classed as a clinical phobia that sees them actively avoid flying due to the distress caused.

Given the prevalence of the condition, it's not uncommon for some passengers to request swapping seats so they can sit next to a friend or family member, or so they can avoid being in close proximity to the dreaded window seat.

However, for one couple traveling to Gran Canaria for a recent vacation, that kind a request ended up falling on deaf ears.

Paying Extra for Your Seats

In a post shared to Mumsnet, an unnamed U.K. woman writing under the handle wearejustfriends explained that she and her boyfriend paid extra to book two specific seats on their outbound flight and weren't about to change that for anyone.

"I had the window and he had the middle. A lady sat on the end and her daughter was in front," she explained. "She asked if they could have our two seats and we have hers and daughter's, or my boyfriend would switch with her daughter."

According to the woman she "politely said no," but the mom "wasn't happy" with their response, asking them "what difference does it make?" and adding "you're adults, my daughter is scared of flying and is minor."

The couple, however, were unmoved.

"Surely if she was that bothered she could have paid like us," the woman wrote. In a later post, she defended her actions further, explaining that they paid extra as she too gets "a bit nervous on take off" when flying.

Despite the girl being around 10 years old, many responding to the thread on social media felt the couple were within their rights to say no.

Insancerre was in agreement, writing: "She [the mom] should have paid to book seats together the same as you did." SpringLobelia added: "I have a child who is scared of flying and so I would have paid to ensure that I had the seats I needed."

HaveANiceF*ckingDay offered up a stronger assessment of the situation branding the mom a "freeloader" for attempting to claim the seats. "I hate this," they wrote. "People expecting you to give up the seats you've paid for."

LemonViolet, meanwhile, suggested: "Maybe you could have offered to sell them to her" while TheAbbottOfUnReason felt that while the mom was within her rights to ask "She was unreasonable to be grumpy" when the couple said no.

Though the majority backed the couple's actions, a small section of those commenting felt they might have been better served by just going along with it.

"I would have swapped," SummerHouse said. "What an awkward flight! You were totally not unreasonable not to though and she was rude to pressure you...but I would have swapped for the daughter, not her rude mother."

Newsweek has contacted wearejustfriends for comment.

Her story came to light just days after another woman went viral after refusing to swap seats with a "rude" mom and her child during a 10-hour flight.

Elsewhere, a woman with a disability detailed the reasons why she decided against offering her seat on a bus to a heavily pregnant woman. By contrast, a man was condemned online over his refusal to let an expectant mom sit down on an empty seat next to him because he was resting his hand on it.

A busy plane flight.
Stock image of a busy plane flight. A couple have been commended for rejecting a mom's request that they swap seats. AwaylGl/Getty