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Reader Rant: My Battle for “Lie-Flat” Qantas Economy Seat

Few months ago one of my readers was able to get in on super cheap mistake fare to New Zealand. A lot of things went wrong along the way, and I’ll have a post on it once everything gets sorted out. But I wanted to publish her story about the flight to New Zealand on Qantas airlines. When I got the email, I laughed so hard, I almost cried. So, I asked her to please let me share it with the world, well, few people who  follow my blog.

Without further ado:

“After a day spent at the airport filled with anguish, craziness and spending $600 in order not to miss my trip to New Zealand, I embarked on a huge Qantas plane, a plane with two floors!
As I walk to find my #84 assigned seat I discover it’s on the last  center row, which I’m totally fine with. After everybody embarked, I realized I’m the only one sitting on that 4 seat row, having the seat by the aisle. My heart was filled with happiness, after all the distress I’d been through, I got to lay down and sleep like an economy class queen, my 5.8 length stretched on the 4 seats.
After a couple of hours they served us dinner, and I was  enjoying it while watching a movie when I see a lady walking towards the back of the plane, in the aisle on the opposite end of my row of seats. She’s holding her shoes and backpack. She stops, sits herself down on that edge seat, let’s call it #88, lifts all the arm rests on the row and looks at me. I tend to be an easy person, unless my rights have totally been denied by gate agents a few hours before. I look back and she tells me: I’m going to sit here and sleep.
Now my kindergarten style  “It’s mine!!” starts. I asked her: “Are you assigned to that seat?” She says she’s not but she’s in a center seat, all squeezed and very uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe my ears: this lady spotted the almost empty row and decided that SHE not ME gets to lay down on a 15-hour overnight trip. Great. Now I’m out of words because really, what I feel like is strangling her.  I wait a bit while I swallow my food and tell her: “But I was going to sleep, I was happy that I could get to lay down and now you come and want to use these seats?” She says: “But you’re watching a movie” at what I immediately turn the screen off and tell her “But I don’t like it so I’m not watching it anymore.” She offers: “Why don’t we share: two seats for you, two for me”, I tell her that obviously nobody gets to sleep on two seats, as I model the fetal position that we’d lay in if we had 2 seats. It still looks like she is set on her decision of sitting in my row. I feel like crying, helpless, out of arguments so I retort to the 5 year-old complaint: “I don’t think that’s fair, it just isn’t fair.” She stands up and tells me she’s going to go ask somebody.
I stand up and lean forward to see what  the person  ahead, who is also alone on a 4 seat row, is doing. She’s stretched along the row, covered by 2 blankets so that you can’t even see where her head/feet are. Smart woman.
I give up on finishing my dinner, grab a couple of blankets and stretch on 3 of the 4 seats pretending to be asleep. I stay there for 40 minutes until I dare to open one eye to see if the lady is back. She isn’t but I see a flight attendant walking back who then asks me if there was a woman who wanted to sit there. I told her there was, and that she wasn’t assigned to that seat AND wanted to take three seats. She said she didn’t have a right to three seats necessarily but could seat on one. After that, I covered myself again and stretched on the four seats.
Now this is a 15 hour flight. After sleeping on and off for 6 hours, I was done and bored of laying down and the guilt feelings start coming. This woman is probably 20 years older than I am, so I start thinking about my mom traveling to see me and how uncomfortable she may be. I realize that there’s no way I’ll be laying for the next 6 hours and that after all, they taught me in kindergarten that sharing is the right thing to do. So I stand up and get ready to find her. I tell a couple of flight attendants about the situation. It was very hard to find somebody on this 400+ (or 800+) people  plane, in the middle of the night, with the lights off and most people covered by blankets. I finally did, she was watching a movie. I crouched by her and told her that I had already slept my share and that she could go and lay down if she wanted. She told me that they had put her in a better row, it looked like she had extra leg space and that she was watching a movie. I apologized for my behavior, told her I had been rude because I’d had a hard day but that she should be free to come back and rest. That was that, she thanked me but never went back.
Now… I know I behaved like a baby, but how did she dare? I mean, whenever I see somebody that gets a better deal in terms of sitting arrangements I think “you jerk!” but keep it to myself. I guess if she had a good reason that she’d had expressed. Oh well, unfriendly airports, tight planes and long journeys only bring out the worst in us.”
Amen, sister!

Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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4 thoughts on “Reader Rant: My Battle for “Lie-Flat” Qantas Economy Seat

  1. I’ve learned this lesson before, although not quite in that dramatic fashion. “Claim” your windfall space immediately after takeoff, whether that is physically stretching out on the space or putting stuff there to make it look occupied. Ultimately you probably can’t prevent people from taking the seat (or the FA putting someone there), but you can at least discourage it and hope for the best.

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