A woman’s rant about being asked to switch seats on planes has reignited the age-old debate: should you ever ask a stranger to move seats for your comfort?
TikTok user @Not.CristinaYang took to her channel to tell a story about defending a stranger who was asked to move further back in the plane cabin so two friends could sit together.
She was responding to a follower named Monica, who had commented on an earlier video saying, “I never give up my seat. Flying is a preplanned event. Someone’s failure to plan isn’t my problem.”
In response to the point, @Not.CristinaYang (whose real name is Arleen) recounted a tale of being furious about seat-switching requests on a recent flight.
“Let me tell you another story about seat switching,” Arleen starts the video, which has now had 2.8 million views.
She says she was travelling on a more than four-hour flight from Hawaii to Seattle, and sitting in row eight, which was premium economy, when a woman from around 20 rows behind came up and asked the lady beside her to swap seats.
Arleen described the lady who was asked as “a little Asian woman… I think she’s Japanese”. She recalls that the woman came up to their row and said “I wanna sit next to my friend”, who was in the aisle seat beside the pair.
“And she looks at the Asian lady next to me and says, ‘Let’s switch seats. I’m back in row 26’”.
“Mind you, we’re in premium economy, okay? We’re in like row eight, with unlimited drinks and snacks,” she points out.
The TikToker said the “soft spoken” woman next to her seemed unsure at first, but started to stand up in order to swap seats with the demanding woman.
“She starts getting up, and I’m like, NO!” protests Arleen in the video. In response, she says, the woman in the aisle tried to convince the lady that she was moving to a window seat, which would be better than her middle seat.
So Arleen decided to step in. “Except for the fact that we are travelling together,” she said, telling the Asian lady “Sit down, Connie!” (despite not knowing her name). “And she sat down,” she added. “I guess I was meaner than the other lady”.
“Hello, we’re both Asian, obviously we know each other,” joked Arleen, who is Chinese American.
She even sealed the deal by talking to the Asian stranger in Cantonese, hoping she would play along, and was delighted when she began chatting back in a different language (Japanese, Arleen assumed).
She said the lady from the back of the plane was “kind of mad she couldn’t sit next to her friend,” and accused Arleen of making up their connection. But she and the stranger stood firm.
“Row 26 is not premium economy… it’s like, you can smell the toilet back there,” ranted the TikToker in the video.
“So why don’t you go back to row 26, where you belong. Because if you wanted to sit next to your friend, you should have booked a ticket next to her!” she concluded. “Not 20 rows behind.”
Arleen’s followers applauded her defence of the timid stranger, with one writing: “May your coffee always be hot, green lights on your drives, and close parking spots in the parking lot.”
“When someone says ‘it’s basically the same seat’, I say ‘if that’s true take your original seat then’,” pointed out another follower.
“Or her friend could have moved back to sit with her. You don’t ask someone to downgrade for your convenience,” said a third person.