The divisive incident occurred nearly five hours into a long-haul flight, according to the man. Here’s what a travel expert says should have happened

<p>urbazon/Getty</p> Stock photo of a man and woman on a plane


Stock photo of a man and woman on a plane

An airplane passenger is claiming that he was called “incredibly rude” by a fellow flyer after he didn’t want to move seats several hours into an international flight.

The man shared that he and his wife were assigned the middle and window seats on a return flight from Dublin to Washington, D.C. when the incident occurred, in a post on the r/AmItheA–hole(AITA) subreddit. The original poster (OP) says he moved to the aisle seat since it was vacant while his wife stayed by the window, and the couple placed their personal items in the middle.

While “nothing eventful” happened for the first four and a half hours of the flight, that soon changed.

“Randomly, the passenger from the aisle seat across from me comes over with her friend who was sitting a few rows back and ANNOUNCES that her friend would now be taking the middle seat to get away from a crying baby further back,” he wrote. “She did not ask — she told us this was happening.”

With roughly three hours of flight time remaining, the OP opted to consult a flight attendant about the situation.

<p>Hispanolistic/Getty</p> A stock photo of a passenger and a flight attendant


A stock photo of a passenger and a flight attendant

“The [flight attendant] said the agreement was that they could take an available aisle seat but could not disrupt anyone’s seating arrangements,” he wrote. “The woman then starts b—-ing about how I was assigned the middle but then moved to the aisle before takeoff, so I shouldn’t even have that aisle seat.”

According to the OP, the pair of friends then left the area to talk to another flight attendant for about five minutes.

“The woman across the aisle then comes back to her seat and proceeds to yell at me saying that ‘her friend would not be sitting there — not because she was not allowed to, but because I was so incredibly rude’ and that I was a ‘f—ing a–hole,’” he wrote, noting, “I kept my eyes on the show I was watching.”

The OP added, “The only thing I did this entire time was ask to talk to the flight attendant. I did not say anything else to this woman, though I would have liked to.”

Related: Mom Says Fellow Plane Passenger Flipped Out When She and Her Baby Were Offered a Seat with More Space

Many of the responses on Reddit said he was in the right for requesting the help of a flight attendant (FA).

“The FA’s need to know where they’ve moved people in case of emergencies,” read one comment. “It’s one thing to shift over one seat it’s another to completely change rows and seat. That’s what they need to know. It’s part of the possibility of identifying passengers in emergency situations.”

Another commenter observed, “That seat was not assigned to either of them. In that case, he claimed it first so he should have priority over the woman.”

Someone else called the two friends “entitled and rude” for approaching a second flight attendant, arguing that the second FA “must’ve told them no” on their request.

<p>romrodinka/Getty</p> A crying baby on a flight


A crying baby on a flight

However, another Reddit user took issue with the OP’s claim on all three seats of his row.

“I’m going with the unpopular opinion here,” they wrote. “You paid for 2 seats, not 3. You didn’t ask the FA bc you wanted to ‘verify the rules.’ You asked bc you didn’t want to lose your space and were hoping the FA would not permit her to move. You were assigned a middle seat. So per the FA, the woman could have sat in the aisle seat, once you moved into your actual assigned middle seat.”

PEOPLE asked travel expert, writer and advisor Nicole Campoy Jackson of Fora Travel to weigh in on the incident.

Related: Woman Takes Business Class Upgrade, Leaves Ex and His Son in Coach After Breaking Up on Trip

Jackson says reaching out to the flight attendant for guidance was the right move.

“I am always in the camp of getting a flight attendant involved for sticky in-flight situations,” she explains. “Tensions run high when we’re traveling plus they would know, for example, if there was another aisle seat or another solution to this problem. They have more context than we, the passengers, do.”

Jackson also addressed whether he should’ve been expected to move mid-flight.

“Unlike moving to accommodate someone while you’re still on the ground, when you’re more than halfway through the flight and then asked to move? That is disruptive,” she says. “I understand why he would have been resistant to the idea.”

<p>Getty Images</p> A stock photo of a woman and a child on a plane

Getty Images

A stock photo of a woman and a child on a plane

Jackson says it’s tricky to determine that either party is “entitled to” their desired seat.

“He’s been sitting in an unoccupied seat for hours, so is he now entitled to stay there? That he was assigned to the middle seat quite literally means he is not entitled to the unoccupied aisle next to him,” she says. “Likewise, the other passenger isn’t entitled to move because of an inconvenience at her seat.”

“Switching seats does always boil down to flexibility, understanding, and kindness of our fellow passengers,” Jackson continues. “That starts with the ask, by the way. It also, of course, boils down to what’s possible within the rules of the airline, the safety of where everyone needs to be at a given time, and what’s been paid for.”

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Jackson says the approach of the woman across the aisle, as described in the post, “kicked things off in a pretty sour way.”

“The best way to approach this situation would have been to walk over to the man and explain, ‘I’ve been having a difficult flight because of the baby next to me. I know this aisle seat was open before we took off, would it be okay for me to sit here for the rest of the flight?’” she advises.

“With a question and a quick reason as to why they wanted to move, I have to believe this would have all ended differently,” Jackson adds.

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