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Would You Take a $100 Bribe to Switch Seats?

July 15, 2013 at 6:18 PM | by | ()

Picture this: you're all settled into your Business Class seat on what will be a 9-hour transatlantic flight when a man approaches to ask if you'd move to the bulkhead/front row so that he may take your seat in order to sit next to his colleague. You decline, and the man sweetens the deal by offering a $100 cash bribe. Do you take the money and move? Or stay put?

This was recently the case on a Stockholm to Newark flight (either United or SAS) for a traveler, who was approached by internet entrepreneur and Fab.com founder Jason Goldberg. Goldberg, rebuffed even after the $100 offer, was so miffed about the whole interaction that he took to venting on Facebook, and it naturally became a Valleywag story.

You know that saying, "any press is good press?" It's a nice theory, but sadly not always true in situations where said press just makes you look like an entitled jerk. Goldberg didn't stop, digging his hole deeper after landing with few more explanation posts on Facebook.

Why did the man not want to move, anyway? According to Jason, he "said he was too comfortable to move."

In similar situations, our go-to "nice no" in reply is, "I'd prefer not to, thanks." It's succinct and definite and lacking in sappy reasoning.

There are myriad other reasons to not want to give up your seat, but you know what? You don't even need to have one. That's your seat, whether pre-selected by you or assigned by the airline, and the decision to move lies with you or the flight crew only. Not some guy who has $100 to throw around (which, remember, wouldn't be very tempting to the average business class flyer).

Personally, we consider our seat selection in detail and would only be willing to give it up in the case of a family with young children wanting to sit together, or possibly honeymooners. All said and done, there are ways Goldberg could have secured the seats together earlier, by being more proactive about his reservation and requesting the switch at check-in or at the gate, or putting to work tools like TripIt Pro's seatracker.

These aren't frequent flyer secrets, but common sense travel tips. Don't give up the ship seat.

[Photo: Todd Kravos]

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