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​Debate Over Switching Airplane Seats Goes Viral On Tiktok

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If you are sitting comfortably on your paid airplane seat, right next to the window, and the woman next to you asks you to change seats to a middle seat in the back so her teenage son can be next to her, would you switch? TikTok user Surya Garg didn’t and raised the debate on the social media app.

Garg shared a video on January 17 explaining what happened to her on the plane. She said that she is usually willing to change seats for families with children, but this woman’s son was a grown-up teenager who did not need any assistance. 

Woman walking through aisle in an airplane with other passengers

At the end of the story, the lady requesting the swap was not happy and made Garg understand it. “Under her breath, for the entirety of the flight, she was muttering profanities at me. Was I in the wrong here? I need someone to tell me,” asked the TikTok user.

The video got 1.2 million views and nearly 5,000 comments. It’s not the first time this topic has been discussed on this application, and Garg starts her story by saying, “I  know this has been a big debate on TikTok recently.” 

@surya_garg for real like was I wrong #nyc #airplane #airplaneseats ♬ original sound – Surya Garg

TikTok has become a great travel source, providing valuable user content from top destinations to the dark side of Bali and now trendy debates. The topic “airplane seat switching” is among frequent searches, and there are videos and even popular sounds related to this subject on the app. Here’s what travelers and other Tiktok users have been saying about seat switching on airplanes:

What TikTok Travelers Say

According to the information shared by TikTok users,  there are a few considerations that might affect the decision when someone asks for a seat swap. While some users said that they don't mind changing seats with anyone, these were the most common opinions:

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child next to adult on a plane

Only For An Upgrade

Many travelers agree on this: only change for an upgrade. Changing a window seat for a middle seat a few rows more in the back is considered a downgrade, and many are not willing to worsen their travel conditions, especially during long flights.

“I will never switch seats unless it’s the flight attendant telling me I’m getting an upgrade to first class,” wrote a TikTok user. First class, window seat, more leg room or the same seat but closer to the front are also considered as better conditions to change seats.

Man enjoying his first class seat

No. Never.

“Other people’s poor planning is not my responsibility,” commented a user on a video. And many—especially those paying for better seats— do not like being requested to change seats and are not willing to do it for anyone. Not for babies, not for newlyweds, not for the elderly.

Many defend their time planning and their investment to travel comfortably. Others explain that they are very tall and usually pay for more extra legroom because otherwise they literally suffer during the entire flight.

@flightmateapp Did you know that with Flight Mate you can search your flight number and see who’s on your flight before it’s time for takeoff?! That means you can have these uncomfortable conversations ahead of time! Download @flightmateapp now on the #appstore & #googleplay #funny #comedy #viral #meme #familyguy #reel #flight #fly #airplane #travel #jetset #jetlag #jet #friend #love #beautiful #happy ♬ original sound – flightmateapp

There’s a viral Family Guy audio on Tiktok from a scene where the character Stewie declines a seat switch request from a woman with a baby who wants to sit next to her husband and says: “Your poor planning does not constitute an emergency for me. You’ll see him in Paris, go sit down”.

Depends On The Person Requesting

The majority of comments on Garg’s video are from travelers saying that, in her case, she did the right thing and that only babies, toddlers, or young children need their parents by their side. Senior passengers or travelers with special needs are also part of the group of people that travelers have no problem switching seats with.

People traveling by airplane

Depends On The Way People Ask To Switch Seats

Different TikTok users have also explained that they are usually willing to change seats but that the way they are asked affects their decision-making process. “Once, a guy asked me to switch with him WHILE he was already sitting in my seat. Firm no from me,” said a user in a comment.

man using touch screen airplane

There are dozens of horror stories on the app, from passengers rudely asking for a change or shy introverts accepting to change to uncomfortable seats next to the worst travel companions. Many have encountered unpleasant situations and have had to travel for hours next to a person purposely making their flight miserable.

Ask For Money

Apparently, it is not that unusual. Another user said that he once saw someone offering 200 dollars to another passenger to change seats so that he could travel next to his partner. 

User hunterkaimi has shared a video where he plays being asked to switch seats and asks for $300. “Cash works. I’d do a Venmo if that’s more accessible for you,” he says.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Al LeFeusch

Sunday 19th of February 2023

Nope. Hard no. Not a chance. Won't even consider it. I work very hard to get exactly the seat i want *before* my flight. I'll even sometimes switch flights just to get the seat i want. It's not happening. Not for money, not for any reason.


Monday 13th of February 2023

I'll switch for the precise equivalent or "better" or very small kids. I am not going to rows further back or switch my aisle seat (my preference) to anything that isn't an aisle seat. Changing my seat into a middle one a few rows back for a basically grown-up adult whose mommy can't sit next to him? Heeeeell no, not even a consideration

Philip p

Saturday 11th of February 2023

I switched once so a young couple could sit together and a while later they surprised me with an expensive bottle of after shave they had bought for me from the duty free. I generally switch when asked but this was the only material reward I ever received


Saturday 11th of February 2023

Like for like yes. EG window seat in Row 2 on Right for Left, unless I picked it for the view. Otherwise no. I book a long time ahead to get the seat I want. I suffer from Claustrophobia as a result of my PTSD. If people want seats together they need to book ahead and save the money too.