This week I’m “liveblogging” my trip to Ukraine. Unlike traditional reports, these posts will be shorter and more frequent.
Stepping onboard my United Airlines 767-300ER flight from Chicago to Zurich, I found someone in my seat: a non-rev retired pilot. The guy was genuinely clueless he was in the wrong seat (or an incredibly great actor) and I decided against pushing the issue because he had already made a mess unwrapping his blanket and pillow and plopping his personal items down around him.
A Pilot In My Seat – Innocent Mistake? I Think So.
When I showed up at 15A, there was an older gentleman sitting in my seat. I asked him what his seat was and he fumbled around for his boarding pass like the kind of passenger who is trying to scam an upgrade. But eventually, he found it and declared his seat was 12A.
On United’s 767-300s, there is no row 13 or 14, so in fact his real seat was just one row ahead.
A flight attendant noticed I was simply standing in the aisle as I attempted to figure out what was going on. She came over and after the non-rev confirmed he was in the wrong seat, suggested I just take the seat in front of him. At first I thought the two were in cahoots, but over the course of the flight, I determined this was not the case.
With the 767-300 skipping from row 12 to 15 and the way in which the seats are numbered, I can see how he made the mistake. We ended up having a nice conversation and the flight attendant involved, who turned out to be the purser, provided tremendous service during the flight, so I do not think this was a non-rev game (which still does occasionally occur). The passenger was a retired pilot non-revving to Switzerland for a ski trip.
Although he had a true window seat in the staggered 1-2-1 configuration, it would soon be dark anyway. Had this been a day flight, I probably would have insisted upon my chosen seat since I like to look out the window and choose window seats expressly for that purpose, but since I just planned to eat and then go to sleep, I chose to pick my battles wisely.
Innocent mistake? I certainly think so.
Onward to Zurich.