Last Thursday on a night flight back from Maui to Los Angeles, it happened again. This must have been the sixth or seventh time a married woman requested I switch seats with her, so that she can sit next to her husband. I have noticed that it's always the wives that make the request, never the husbands.
Do single fliers like me have some kind of tattoo on our foreheads which only married people can see? My guess is my forehead is emblazoned with the words: "No Will of Her Own" since married people assume, as a single person, I have no seat preference.
Usually it happens to me in first class where people often are more pushy and demanding. (I upgrade for the more comfy seats and free alcohol, not the company). The wife will survey me then ask: "Are you traveling alone?" When I reply I am flying solo, she asks: "Would you mind switching seats with me, so my husband and I can sit together?" What I always think, but never say, is: "Why is it my problem that you didn't book far enough in advance to sit together?"
People pleaser that I am, I normally comply, but the other night, I didn't. I was seated on the aisle of an exit row, and there was an empty middle seat between me and the guy by the window. We had the only row onboard the plane with an empty middle seat. Such vacancy meant both of us had won the elbow lottery. We could put our elbows on each armrest, relax and sleep on the flight.
When the wife initially asked, I said I'd consider it. First, I needed to secure my tuberose flowers. The flight attendant suggested I put them at the feet of the man by the window, so they'd stay colder by the emergency exit door. I now felt committed to Row 18, not just for my own comfort, but to protect my $8.99 Costco bouquet.
I told the woman I didn't want to switch. She gave me an unpleasant look and proceeded to ask the man (protecting my flowers) if he would switch. He also declined saying he liked having a window seat.
Throughout the wife's pleas to switch seats, her husband in the row behind her -- across the aisle from me -- said nothing. I have noticed in these situations, the husband usually says nothing. Never having been married, I am uncertain whether this is marital training or fatigue. All the husband did say was to advise the two women next to him that he hoped he wouldn't snore too loudly.
My row companion and the husband both seemed to sleep quite well. I do not know how the wife fared because I didn't want to make inadvertent eye contact. I had a very pleasant snooze quite content that I had "sat" my ground.