To The Woman In Seat 19D

I’m not sure you realize the magnitude of your actions. You see, we were all very excited for our first real family vacation. We were off to Disney World, every child (and parent’s) dream trip. Things didn’t go exactly as planned. In fact, things went the exact opposite of anything I could have ever planned. 

Our first flight was cancelled at 9pm on the eve of the trip, long after the kids had gone to bed with dreams of mouse ears in their heads. My wife and I struggled with the notion of how to tell them the trip would have to wait another day. Luckily, we managed to get another flight out of town very early in the morning.

The kids woke this morning with an excitement I have never seen and may never see again. “DISNEY, DISNEY!!” they shouted as they doled out thousands of pirouetting hugs. This, is the reason we get into this game called parenting. Those smiles, that love of the magical unknown. 

It only took five minutes after we arrived at the airport to be told that our flights were overbooked and we were getting bumped. I pointed to the kids and muttered, “but, Disney”, to the woman, who shrugged and apologized. We avoided disappointment the first time but it seemed inevitable at this point. Then out of nowhere, another agent called us over with good news. A NEW flight for us to try our luck with. Relief. 

We got on the plane and hit our connecting city. Success! One flight to go until the magic begins and nothing could go wrong. I excitedly printed the boarding passes to our final destination and noticed that we were all spread out in different seats. No problem, the airline will help us out, right? Wrong. The airline said that I would have to figure it out on my own which meant that I had to grovel with passengers, who were probably as exhausted as I was, to see if they would switch with me. It was more uncomfortable than anything I have ever done in my life. 

That’s where you come in. I had a 1 in 4 shot at finding a match and I was 0 for 3. I’m not going to lie, even though I understand that nobody owed me anything, I was baffled at how the others could stare at my crying child, who was petrified to sit alone, and not bat an eye as they rejected my offer. But not you. I could tell that you booked your aisle seat on purpose and I know that you really didn’t want to move but you did it anyway, without hesitation. I just hope you can understand how agonizing it was for me to have to ask you to take my middle seat and also how deeply I appreciate your act of kindness. 

I have nothing to offer you except words and a wish for all the best things that life can throw your way. You made a disastrous day a million times better and I will never forget that for as long as I live. You are an amazing human being and my whole family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts. If you read this and want some Mickey Mouse ears, please email me, as it’s the least I can do!

43 replies
  1. Michèle
    Michèle says:

    Awww what a wonderful thing!! I cannot even imagine not sitting with my kids when they were that young!
    Have fun in Disney!!!

    Reply
  2. Scott Parker
    Scott Parker says:

    I’m so glad to read that all worked out and that there was some Disney Magic on your flight. Enjoy the parks and if you see me walking around say hi!

    Reply
  3. Tara (nerdgirlmom)
    Tara (nerdgirlmom) says:

    I am actually shocked that so many people said no!!! That makes me feel sad, and i hope they all had really good reasons that went beyond an unwillingness to be helpful. I’m glad that you found a lady with compassion and that you were all able to make it to Disney safely and together! Enjoy your trip!!

    Reply
  4. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    When I read posts like this, it gives me hope that someday I’ll run into you or her. Kindness to a parent who is trying to just make it to their destination with humor and dignity is worth a pile of diamonds. I share your wish of beautiful karma to this woman. 🙂

    Reply
  5. daniel
    daniel says:

    Whenever I travel alone I am ALWAYS willing to give up that aisle seat for a family. I’ve been in that situation you faced and it is not fun. It is frustrating when the airline doesn’t seat you together. I don’t get it.

    Reply
  6. mara
    mara says:

    What a nice lady. I’m glad it worked out and I hope that you’re having a great vacation. I’m surprised actually, because kids under a certain age can’t sit alone. Last time I was on a flight and this happened, the flight attendants said they would have to ‘voluntold’ someone if nobody would volunteer. The airlines need to get a better system when there’s kids involved.

    Reply
  7. Shash
    Shash says:

    The airlines did this to us traveling 5 hours to Seattle a few years back, 4 kids all on their own… For some reason the airlines do not mind if your 5, 8, 11 and 12 yr old sit with perfect strangers. For a split second I was looking forward to sitting alone, without the constant “mom, mom, mom, mom” pulling at my patience. But then responsibility, and the crying 5 year old, shook me back into reality. We managed to get 2 out of 4 beside someone who shared their DNA.

    It’s nice when someone helps eh but it really should be the airline looking out for their passengers though. When did this all change? Where did the thing called “service” go?

    Reply
  8. Nay.
    Nay. says:

    Love this! Same thing happened on our trip to Disney a year ago.
    All four of of us were separated, and although I contemplated it for a split second, I figured it was best for all involved if we sat with our children. Thankfully, other passengers were kind and smart enough to give up their seats so we could sit (monitor) our own children.

    Passenger in 19D – parents all around the world thank you and love you!

    Reply
  9. Brandi
    Brandi says:

    So glad things got sorted out, especially thanks to a kind stranger like that woman 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your trip! The memories you make at Disney will more than make up for the rough start 🙂

    Reply
  10. Ladena
    Ladena says:

    Great post! This happens to us ALL the time when we travel with our kids. Even when we book 6 months + in advance a certain airline always moves us around. One year my 2 year old and 5 year old were in separate rows, away from us, the parents. My husband was ready and waiting to see a single man approach the row of seats and said “oh buddy, its your unlucky day, you’ll be flying with these kids.” The guy switched seats RIGHT AWAY. It was funny. The guy was awesome but it’s really sad that the passengers are the ones that have to make the trade. I really think the airline should be in charge of this.

    Reply
  11. Nolie
    Nolie says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would NOT want to change seats. I mean who really wants to sit beside a child seperated from their parent on a plane. Some people pi$$ me off. I long for the old days so often where everyone was kind and thoughful.

    Reply
  12. Canadian Budget Binder
    Canadian Budget Binder says:

    I’ve been on many flights around the world and have been asked to change seats which I have never had a problem with. Sure there are crappy seats but if I’m not sitting in first class it’s not a big deal to me. I just want to get where I need to get safe and sound. If that means sitting in the middle seat, so be it. There are good people out there in this world who are willing to help out, all we need to do is ask and not be afraid of the answer. Cheers mate, great post.

    Reply
  13. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    Seriously? What kind of F*#%$ airline would put a CHILD next to some stranger??? Uh, do they WANT to be sued when said stranger is some creep who decides to take advantage?

    So glad someone switched with you. Can’t believe someone actually said NO.

    When we went to Florida my sister-in-law and niece were sitting next to each other and some woman tried to take my SIL’s seat so she could sit next to her friend. My SIL told her to get into her assigned seat since this was her DAUGHTER and she was supposed to sit next to her.

    Geez some people.

    Reply
  14. Brandy
    Brandy says:

    So glad things started going your way and you were able to make it to Disney! And what an awesome and kind thing that the woman in seat 19d did. Everyone should follow her lead!

    Reply
  15. Alex
    Alex says:

    What kind of person doesn’t give up a seat to a family? Ugh. I’m so glad you finally found a nice person, I’m just really sad it took so many asks.

    Reply
  16. Debbie Bashford
    Debbie Bashford says:

    It is sad that this is the way it seems to be more and more. people have lost their sense of empathy and kindness. When some one is nice now, it makes the news. I remember the days when it was the rude and selfish people that would make news.

    Reply
  17. K
    K says:

    I have to say that I’m surprised so many people said they wouldn’t switch. It would not even cross my mind to let a kid sit alone. And I remember, when I was a kid and we travelled somewhere by plane, and I sat with one parent while my brother sat with the other. Seems fine but I still remember feeling scared about that.

    Reply
  18. Larry
    Larry says:

    Glad the trip did end up happening after all the stress before hand. Nice that 19D came up big for you and allowed you to sit together. I’m surprised and disappointed that the others did have the decency to do this. Little acts of courtesy can mean so much more than a person realizes.

    Reply
  19. Heather
    Heather says:

    I have a similar story; I dislocated my knee at my wedding (I know)! We had to fly home from Toronto to Vancouver. I tried to stuff my knee into a coach seat and prepared to spend the next 5 hours in agony when the amazing lady sitting at the end of our 3 seat row noticed how uncomfortable I was and offered for me to put my leg up, across my hubby and onto her lap. A total stranger let me sit that way for the entire trip, offered me her magazine and chatted with us the while way home. Totally lovely! Bless those people in the world!!

    Reply

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