Herr Miller, welcome aboard


Seat poaching is one of those things that is known to happen from time to time, and I’ve yet to truly hear a reasonable explanation from the poacher as to why they think it is a reasonable action. Yes, I understand that you want to sit in this seat that is assigned to me. I don’t blame you. It is a very good seat, perhaps one of the best on the plane. Which is why I arranged to have it assigned to myself. No, I am not willing to trade for your middle seat that doesn’t recline; thank you for asking.

Last night’s flight presented an interesting mix of circumstances that started out resembling seat poaching and finished with me in quite a happy mood.

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My original seat, awaiting the replacement cushion.

The flight was very, very fully booked. It actually appears that we are at 100% – every seat occupied in both the coach and BusinessFirst cabins. But when I asked at the gate if they were looking for volunteers for a possible bump the guy said no and so I boarded the plane. I was the second on board and settled in to my lovely reclining exit row window seat – 16A – one of the best on Continental’s 757-200s for sleeping. Well, I started to settle in, anyways. On arriving at my seat I noticed a rather disturbing stain on the seat cushion. Knowing that we had about 45 minutes before departure I grabbed the cushion, brought it to the flight attendant and asked if it could be swapped out for a clean one. “No problem at all.” So I hung out back in the galley as the rest of the plane boarded and took their seats. And my seat!

Sure enough, about 25 minutes later I poked my head around the corner of the rear galley to find that the plane was mostly full and there was a woman settling into 16A – my seat – and the flight attendant was carrying the stuff that I’d left there looking for its owner – me. I actually got rather defensive and moved up to the row, asking what happened. That woman was told to move to the seat by one of the crew. We continued to move forward on the plane, searching out the crewmember who had made such a switch.

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And then I was given probably the best news of the evening, “Herr Miller, welcome aboard. We have assigned you a new seat, 1B.” My very first Operational Upgrade to business class. A big, comfy seat; a long, drawn out meal service and a crew that was just top notch at every turn. They didn’t even seem to mind when I offered to help them out with some of the little things, like refilling my wine glass from the bottle that was on the cart rolling by.

It actually cut in to my planned sleeping time as I decided to enjoy the meal and service rather than just fall immediately asleep, but I am certainly not complaining. After all, the half bottle of wine (maybe more) and the big, reclining seat did make the few hours of sleep that I got quite restful.

Plus, it should mean access to the arrivals lounge, where a shower and some clean clothes should go a long way towards making the 26 hours I have in Hamburg truly enjoyable.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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