Hello all, live from 38,000 feet onboard my Alitalia flight from Rome to Los Angeles. Time for a confession: I made a mistake today. At least, I think I did…
During boarding, FAs distributed amenity kits. Amenity kits are Bulgari-branded with an attractive black and gold color scheme.
To my dismay, the stitching on my amenity kit was broken. Stuff that like that annoys me…tremendously.
The cabin wasn’t very full at the time and so I took my amenity kit and exchanged it with an amenity kit sitting on an open seat across the aisle from me.
“What do you think you’re doing?!”
I heard a yell from an older man, maybe 60, on the other side of the cabin. He had curly thinning hair, wiry glasses and a wrinkled gray suit on.
I just stared at him. He repeated his question, just as loudly.
“What do you think you’re doing?!”
I stated, “My amenity kit had broken stitching so I switched it with this one.”
“You Can’t Do that! That’s Mine!”
“But why aren’t you seated there?”
“That’s my son’s seat.”
There was a three year-old-running around the cabin squealing.
I’ll admit, my first reaction was to be nasty, rude, and condescending. It’s the human condition. I wanted to belittle him for not controlling his grandson. I wanted to ask him if he feared I was going to roofie his amenity kit.
That would have been so wrong.
Instead, I apologized to him, switched back the amenity kits, and returned to my seat.
Moments later, I asked a FA if she could switch amenity kits for me and she happily obliged. That’s what I should have done from the outset instead of trying to make the change myself.
Better yet, I should have just not exchanged the amenity kit and left it onboard. I already have a closet full of unused amenity kits…
It’s sad that human nature, or at least my nature, tends to be so defensive. I had no idea it was his seat or his son’s seat, but it surely must have appeared strange that a random guy switched amenity kits. Sadly, my first reaction was one of anger and revenge. Let’s hope I can focus more on love and forgiveness for the remainder of the flight…
I would have done the same thing that you did. And he shouldn’t have reacted that way. But I don’t appreciate the catty comment about him being an older parent – “grandson” – as if that make you better somehow.
I 100% agree. It was a shameful thought, as I state in the post. But I wanted to be honest about what my thought process was.
Lol. Why he shouldn’t have? From his point of view, Matt could be a thief…..
Isn’t it interesting how when something is “free” that we just seem to want it, even though we have no real need for it (i.e. the amenity kit). I do that all the time
Lol….yep! You were in the wrong this time. Should’ve complained to FA.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of unused amenity kit and you aren’t collecting, maybe you can donate to the hurricane area, or give it as gift to friends or relatives, or make a contest in your blog with it as the prize? Just an idea…. no offends..
Too much time on airlines where asking a FA for something gets you barked at, so you go into ‘self help’ mode by default.
Too much flying US3 to be exact…. lol. I believe in other culture, courtesy and kindness is still the norm…..
I totally agree, James!
Thanks for sharing so openly, rare for a travel blog but I appreciate it.
It’s funny because if people are honest, everyone has had these kinds of thoughts and most have acted out on their angry/pride at some time in some way.
It’s mostly this hidden pride, anger, and envy that causes everyday conflict and unhappiness between friends and family, much more than intolerance. Yet that seems to be all American society cares about anymore – the greatest good is to be (perceived) tolerant while the greatest evil is to be intolerant (very narrowly defined).
Seems the better idea to go back to the golden rule – to love others as passionately as you love yourself. And to forgive as you have been forgiven.
Appreciate this post and most posts in general.
Tracking your emotional roller coaster in real time was insightful. Bravo to you for your honesty and humility….
You should have went all “Jason Mitchell” on him and the FA. 🙂
Sorry I couldn’t help it. First world problems for sure but it seems you handled it well. Many times I’ve seen empty seats and aminity kits go unused.
He was a total jerk and you showed yourself to be the better man regardless.
You’re the jerk to think that it is Ok to just switch a stranger’s kit with a defective one and not expect the person entitled to it to be pissed off.
Would you be happy if someone took something that you are entitled to and replaced it with a defective one??? Seriously, who would not be pissed off?
Matt was clearly in the wrong this time and deserved to get yelled at.
121 is not a jerk. Just an ass licker. Or a ghost commenter.
I didn’t say what Matthew did was ok. I said that other guy was a jerk and he was screaming like that. I’m sure based on Matthew’s reaction had the guy said nicely to him “excuse me sir that’s mine” Matthew would have given it back instantly.
Also note Matthew did apologize which most people would understand as an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. If you read his post you should have noted this. And if you read his response to the first comment it would have reinforced his acknowledgement that what he did was wrong. But let’s keep this in perspective. He swapped an airline amenity kit from his seat with another that he thought was empty. A social faux pas not a felony.
I think it would have been all too human when this guy started screaming at him to respond in kind. Instead Matthew acted like an adult an defused the whole situation. It was how he responded to being yelled at that was the point of my response.
@Jay are you really saying you think the right thing to do in this case was for the other guy to start yelling at Matthew? Across the cabin in the middle of boarding? Have we lost all pretense of civility?
@James Are you the same James that went off the rails over Carley Stewart and her daughter getting upgraded and causing another passenger to be assigned a different seat? The guy that Matthew had to tell to knock off the personal attacks? I can’t tell of course but it would seem if you are that your modus operandi hasn’t changed.
Lol. Shaggy defense all the way…
what the hell do you expect? And secondly why even write about it. Your lucky
*You are lucky
Yep that confirms it your a troll. You just come here not to engage on a serious level but to just spew hate and vitriol from the anonymity of your computer.
Please take it elsewhere.
It’s small moments like these that we learn and grow from so in the future we handle it differently. Who knows what’s in store for you but this was to help you with a future encounter! I love amenity kits, probably because I rarely get to fly overseas….
Thanks for your honesty Matthew. I think most people would have just switched the kit if they thought the seat was empty. I do think it was something over an overreaction by the man. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only a free airline amenity kit and he could have just asked for another. I find it so much easier if you are just nice to people even if they are being rude. Normally takes the wind out of the sails pretty quickly.
I am like you with the amenity kits, can’t help taking them and now have a huge collection under the bed. Have been donating some of the toiletries to homeless charities but no idea what to do with all the bags….
sounds like the old fart could have been more tactful
Interesting amenity kit. I just flew Alitalia ORD-Rome less than 2 months ago and ours was completely different and was Salvatore Ferragamo branded. Who made/designed yours?
It was Bulgari-branded.
lol too funny and ironic, considering 90% of people leave behind the kits after the flight is done and i highly doubted a 3 year old would want theirs. I wonder if the guy was Italian…
Why the digs about his age, thinning hair and wrinkled suit? Would you have felt better to have been chastised by a younger guy with a thick mane of hair and a crisply pressed suit? Lol
I was simply describing him. This whole flight he has sat with his crumpled suit on, refusing to take it off. And the cabin is stifling.
>MY SEATMATE GOES BALLISTIC WHEN I TOUCH HIS AMENITY KIT
Your article body says you were apologetic but the article title does not.
Don’t understand your comment.
Maybe he meant that the title implied you were right but content revealed you were wrong.
This is Trump’s America…where hate takes precedent over love. Sad times we live in
Ok, so your on an international flight, originating in a foreign country, you reach across to someone else’s amenity kit your surprised at his reaction? Traveling international for nearly 45 years I would never never even think about that unless of course you feel you have the right to do that. Crazy. Years ago one never knew what passengers had, today we have security but never the less people are hurt some pretty intensively for less than that.
Folks reality is there are many people in this world that hate us, never tempt them. So you know I spent time in the military in some pretty dicey places “taking care of business” and I would never think about what you did. As we say “Check Six”
Just saying Oh James thanks for the grammatical correction, Glad your there correcting us.
To an empty seat that not only appeared unoccupied, but was unoccupied (since I was first onboard). I didn’t reach across and take it from some guy sitting in his seat…
Hahahahahha….. you were first on board, and since the seat was empty you automatically assumed it no one will sit there? Seriously???
If you ever seat in economy you would’ve assumed all seat were empty and the airline going bankrupt!!!!
C’mon.. be honest. Your exact line of thinking would be:
1. I was first onboard
2. No one else around (yet)
3. I got a bad amenity kit
4. If I switch now nobody will know or see
But this happened toward the end of the boarding process, not moments after boarding.
And I should add, that the seat remained empty. I think it is because the seat on the other side remained empty as well and the child decided to take it (because it had a window), but no one sat in the seat for the entire flight…
Out of curiosity and pure asking, if the seat was empty, would FA put amenity kit on it?
why wasn’t he seated next to the kid (or the kid’s seat) then maybe it would have been more apparent that the seat wasn’t empty. Perhaps he should have left a jacket or something of the kids on the seat to show the seat was taken while he let the adorable rug rat run around.
Lots of retarded comments here
Imagine his reaction if you had answered in German. At least you didn’t answered with a nugget of wisdom such as finder’s keepers, looser weepers.
leftie loosie it’s the left making all the noise out there..taking all freedom of speech away but there’s..stop making it all potitical and President Trump’s fault..Matthew,,i guess the 3 year old needed his kit !!!!also travel stress can bring out the worst in anyone..
As a flight attendant for 37 years (Braniff, Eastern, USAirways, Southwest), I especially enjoyed this post as it validates one of my observations over the years: we all act differently than we normally do while travelling. I call it “being away from home-itis”. We do things that we would never do at home since there is little chance of getting “caught”.
That being said, asking one of the flight attendants for a replacement would have been the best option.
Matthew, the world is filled with unstable crazies and, sadly, people who just aren’t nice. Take the high road. You’ve earned my continued respect for the way that you handled this. As for the other guy, I can assure you that karma will take care of him.
Thanks for your comment.
Can’t believe the abusive comments here (against Matt).
If the old fart had any class, he would have quietly said, “Oh, my grandson will be sitting there, the amenity kit is for him”……..a much more benign reaction……instead of loudly shouting across the cabin like his home was being looted. Chill out, life is a lot worse than that. And, yes, some people are old cranky farts even in their 60’s or earlier. If they have no compunction about rudely, crassly yelling out, then they deserve to be called out (in this article) for their unnecessary crankiness.
Hmm… if someone snooping around your car, and looked like fiddling with the keyhole, would you quietly said, “excuse me dear sir, may I inqury what in my automobile that interest you?”
Actually, yeah, I might say exactly that or pull out my phone and start calling the police. What else would I do, come at him with a baseball bat ? My point being, it’s better to stay calm than to loudly over-react because a lot of people are walking time bombs these days.
Seems no one can be called out or shamed on anything and if they are, the observers object vehemently without any details and you (the person that is objecting or verbalizing) might be the object of someone else’s wrath. Shoot first, ask questions later?, not a good idea.
Shoot first ask question later, is simply american being american.
Jo ellen i will show what abuse is. Stop calling the man “old fart”, and instead of being the typical violent, prepotent, vile, aggressive american, go to finishing school (if you can afford it)…