So before I took my recent trip out of the country, I lurked on these forums a lot. I read a few stories about crazy people trying to get aisle seats when they didn't reserve/weren't assigned one, but I never thought I would experience it!
I have a deteriorating SI joint, and being able to stretch out my legs a bit allows me some pain relief. Knowing this, I booked early and paid an extra fee to choose an aisle seat on my flights to and from Europe. On the way there, no problem. On the way back...oh, boy.
I was in a row of three seats. In the middle seat was an older (70s or 80s) woman and in the window seat was an older (60s or 70s) man. While apparently not together, they were both quite late, boarding the plane just before the door was closed. Both boarded unassisted, and both seemed quite hale (though I would hate to make assumptions).
From the moment each of them saw me (I am 29 but look about 17 -- I get carded to buy lotto tickets, I am physically small, quiet and generally non-confrontational...keep this in mind for later!) it was ON. I stood up quickly with a smile to allow the two of them into their seats. The woman says something like, "oh, it must be so nice to get an AISLE seat." Then she stands there for about fifteen seconds just staring at me. Gentleman has already taken his seat, and it is awkward and uncomfortable. I suppose she was waiting for me to offer to give up my aisle seat. With a huff, she takes her seat.
Gentleman leans across woman in the middle and says, "did you have to do something to get an aisle seat? Think they'd save them for the people who need them." I smiled nervously and said, "yes sir, I booked far in advance and paid an extra fee. I've had extensive surgery and I will be having my hip replaced later this year or early next, and being able to stretch a little and take pressure off my hip and spine is very helpful." He gives me stink eye and says, "uh-huh," like he doesn't believe anything I've said. I happen to glance at the woman in the middle, and she is rolling her eyes. At the time, I thought at the gentleman...HA!
Throughout the first half hour of the flight, the woman continues to make comments each time she opens her carry-on (stored under the seat in front of her) about how much easier it would be to maneuver if she had an aisle seat like mine. Each and every time she digs through her bag, she jabs me HARD with her elbow, even when I am crammed on the far side of my seat and there should be no way to "accidentally" hit me that hard. When the refreshment trolley comes, she reaches across for her drink and says to the attendant, "so sorry I have to reach! I don't have a nice aisle seat like this young girl, you know." She gives the attendant (a very kind gentleman much closer to my age than hers) a pointed look that I guess meant, "don't you agree that she is a terrible person?"
For the first two hours, the gentleman in the window seat kept getting up every 5 to 6 minutes. Of course, we had to shuffle to let him pass. Each time, he would make some sort of comment about how much easier it is to get up and down when one has an aisle seat. Occasionally he would visit the loo, but mostly he just walked up and down the aisle before coming back. Finally, the attendant came over and told him that other passengers were trying to sleep and that if he didn't need the facilities, he needed to stay in his seat. He crossed his arms and pouted like a 5-year-old and started mumbling under his breath. All I caught was "aisle seat."
About three hours in, I put on my headset, started a movie I'd seen before and pretended to be asleep while I listened to the dialogue. About four hours in, I really *did* fall asleep. Immediately, the lady in the middle was elbow-jabbing me. I woke up and took off my headset.
"You need to move. I have to use the restroom."
Gritting my teeth, I stood and let her pass. At this point, I had just had enough and some little imp took over my body. As she headed down the aisle I said, "maybe you'll fine some manners in there!"
She turned, looked shocked, and then hustled off. When she came back, she mumbled "sorry" as she took her seat. Neither of them bothered me for the (relatively short) remainder of the flight.
What in the world makes people who didn't reserve an aisle seat think they're entitled to one...especially to the extent of bullying someone else?!