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.
I would’ve much preferred the true window seat, but I guess there’s not much you could do at that point.
You got paid for this “article?“
Interesting article! Does this odd – even thing apply to all United Polaris setups, or just to the 767-300? AA ExPlat here taking my first UA Polaris flight SFO – AKL soon …
I would have made him move. I don’t like those polaris even-numbered seats.
Absolute disgusting attitude of this non rev pilot. If I am paying good money and revenue for the airline, I will be insisting that he should take the jump seat instead! Sorry the frankness but I have enough of this over entitled airline employees. Luckily they are not all like this one.
I will certainly be writing to HR of this airline and file a complaint. This non rev should know where his place is and his manners. Customers are bring the revenue and to some extent his salary.
Don’t be a prick to non revs.
“where his place is”…Wow… Karen relax. Where is that place? Beneath you? YOU have an incredible sense of entitlement TO SPEAK OF another person like that. If it wasn’t for employees you would be flying nowhere. REMEMBER we need people to work as well as people to pay for the service.
1) Relax, to even write an article about this is hilarious…
2) Was the author sure he was a non-rev or could he have been Deadheading? Obviously he had a conversation with him, but there is no way for you to be able to tell by glancing at them.
My point is, airlines have unions and along with that, contracts (which I assume you know), and a benefit in many of these contracts is having a good seat while on a DH.
3) If he was a non-rev cut them some slack. Most pilots aren’t non-reving for fun, but rather going to/from work. You should try routinely flying people like you across the ocean multiple times a trip, then getting done, trying to catch a flight and having your seat switched 3 times before you sit down… you’re going to sit in the wrong seat once or twice in a 30-40 year career!
4) I picked up a trip once because someone had called in sick, it was one way with a deadhead back. I was given a first class seat and stayed on the plane after talking to the agent. Was asked by a passenger (similar to the audience here): “How come you get a nice seat and I have to sit in the back”? I held my tongue, but wanted to say: you wouldn’t be going to your destination today if I hadn’t picked this up (or at least not on time)!
5) (final) people need to chill out. The entitlement of our society is out of control. Said airline employee probably made a mistake, but some of the reactions on here are crazy. Many in this industry are current military pilots or former.
Trust me, the drama being created by some people, because they think they’re not getting something is laughable. When you have seen/been in actual high stress situations, seeing an adult complain like a child just makes you roll your eyes—unfortunately it’s rampant.
Thank you for your comment. I feel the exact same way. I was going to reply exactly with what you had replied, but once I read your comment I felt that you did all us non-revers a solid. Was there really any value in this post? I find these days on the internet vloggers and bloggers write articles for clicks. They post valueless empty content solely because they feel the need to feel relevant and validate themselves. This article though brief was entirely pointless. I’m glad that the author has 200,000 travel mi a year. Keep paying for your airfare. We thank you for your business!
Did you even read the article? It was a retiree that made an honest mistake. Besides a RETIRED pilot can’t ride in the jumpseat, and I don’t know what you expect from going to HR as a RETIRED person isn’t even an employee. Read the article and calm down.
Wayne! Do be that guy. It was clearly a mistake. The nonreve pilot was retired. He gave that Airline his time for pay. So it was a win win retirement. He may have even flown you throughout his career. It’s certainly could have been handled several different ways. I’m happy to see. No harm. No foul. Also from reading the article. They may have found a good way to pass the time. Becoming friends on a long flight. So, please don’t be that guy Wayne.
Wow pipe down Karen
In March I flew Ana from Singapore to Tokyo to chicago. The plane was pretty empty and I actually swapped the true window for the aisle to sleep when the cabin was dark as it was a lot less cramped or maybe just less claustrophobic.
Why would the FA side with the NRSA and insisted you take the even numbered seat, instead of politely asking him to move!! He’s the non rev and you’re the client for God’s sake. We all know the odd numbered seats are the best seats. Bad on the FA and reflects poorly on United. No more patronizing or sponsoring this airline, they’re just plain cheap. Period!!!
I was last to board and the door was shut behind me. She was just trying to get the cabin secured for takeoff. I generally can pinpoint bad intentions and am convinced that was not the case here. She suggested I take 12A, but did not force me to.
Matt, if you didn’t read my tips in the other posting about your trip to Ukraine (please do), you should be able to catch a train from just inside Ukraine to Kiev. The problem is that people who are crossing the border from Poland to Ukraine on train will hold up the whole segment of the Warsaw to Kiev train (hence, they charge more for that short ride per kilometer.)
See if you can book separate tickets from Warsaw to the nearest city to the border, then take a taxi/bus across to the station, and book a ticket from the Ukrainian border city to Kiev. It’s a pain, but you should get mostly rail access. For some reason, Ukraine’s rail website is down. You may find a slot opens up on the full train if someone cancels their ticket at the last minute.
I read it – helpful advice, especially about the exit clearance paperwork for the artwork! Thanks, as always.
I wish you had announced in advance you were going to Krakow, Poland because I had some insider tips I would have loved to have given you. In Krakow, there’s the interesting Kościuszko Mound with the Slavic idol (recreation, I think) Perun by the wall at the entrance and nearby, as a fan of Stanislaw Lem, his Lem’s gravesite. Lem had a notorious love-hate rivalry with Philip K Dick. There’s also “Park Wodny” that’s a fun, indoor child and adult water park with fun slides, a cafe/bar, and jacuzzis. You will probably find out about other touristy stuff, but folks miss those. Another interesting site would have been the church established by Pope John Paul II during communist times in Nowa Huta which is interesting in that it’s a Soviet Brutalist blight for the locals, but nonetheless has great rail and roadway communications.
One of the tragedies of the war is that Ukraine had just redone the Lviv and Odessa airports for the World Cup a few years back and they were splendid (although I enjoy “old style” airports as well). Now neither are in use. I read that Ukrainian pilots are keeping this skills going by working for the Ukrainian regional airlines. It just occurred to me that they might be an excellent resource for USA airlines looking for skilled pilots now that travel is ramping back up.
Sorry the frankness Matthew that you have to delete my post. Gravelly Point Guy just said as well ..but in a more moderate way.
I didn’t delete your post – not sure why it went into the moderating queue, but I approved it.
You’re too nice. Surely the pilot knew exactly what he was doing. I suspect he knows his way around a 767 as good as any of us do. People never seem to accidentally occupy inferior seats.
You definitely have no clue what you’re talking about. The author is right, it’s essentially confused since the numbers skip. Also, I’m a 1k for united and I fly mostly 737s. I HAVE SAT in the wrong seat and gladly moved. IT HAPPENS GET OVER YOUSELF.
To your point, just boarded a WestJet 737-Max, sat in 3F instead of D by accident, friendly neighbor who said don’t worry about moving. It was an early flight, hadn’t had my coffee yet lol
Yeah, I can say I accidently done this before as well. However, I moved. I fy clt o sat all the time usually row 9, just whatever is available there. I sat in D instead of F confusing my next flight. It happens.
What a woke response to this seat stealer. A real Alpha would have Given him to the count of 3 to get his old a$$ out of your seat, then you should have physically lifted him out of the seat and put him in his seat. No free rides
Oh come on. Had I sensed any attitude from him or the purser, I would have pushed back, but I prefer to pick my battles wisely.
You’re a dick! And guess what happens to dicks? …. They get the teeth!
@Average Republican, leave comedy and satire to those with an above room temperature IQ
Sir, I dont know what satire means, but I assume you are complimenting me… unless it means woke.
LOL, you sound like an average Republican, everything you don’t agree with gets the “woke” title.
Matthew, you’re the nice guy here. It sure sounds like an innocent mistake and as a mature frequent flyer, you let it slide… good for you. Had you been with a 12 year old who would lose a window, then OF COURSE you’d have said “I don’t mind, but in this case my son….”
The world needs more of what you did, not jumping down people’s throats over a seating error.
Actually, he sounds like the lefts caricature of the right. It seems like poor satire. I don’t vote and I don’t give a…. About your team politics.
I can’t speak for this guy, but after a long day I’ve accidentally taken the wrong seat on my commute home a time or two, in full uniform. I usually apologize, tell the offended that I’m not a very good flyer (which gets me a chuckle) and take the correct seat. I bet he would have apologetically moved if you asked him.
Indeed, he likely would have. I just did not want to do that for the reasons I explained. I saw absolutely no malicious intent.
Matt got some 500 dollar vouchers and 100,000 miles as compensations .
Not true – I received no compensation nor am I seeking any.
Then please enlighten us as to why an entire post was necessary to point out that a “pilot” was in your seat? You found someone sitting in your seat….would you have felt differently about the situation if it was a revenue passenger that sat in the wrong seat? Is it worth an entire rambling post to have to read through only to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t a big deal/innocent mistake?
The reason there are so many comments is that this issue is on the margin. I’ve found the discussion quite interesting and while I give the ex-pilot and the purser the benefit of the doubt, I thought it was still a discussion worth having.
The beautiful thing is that if you don’t want to click something or read something or comment on something, you don’t have to.
Yes, it is my decision to click….but when you post an attention grabbing headline with an exclamation mark (THERE’s A PILOT IN MY SEAT!) one would assume to find a story about how you were wronged and that big bad nonrev is getting special treatment from the FA’s and the horror of them deciding where they wanted to sit and forcing you to sit somewhere else. Child please…
I suspect the people suggesting you should have given the non-rev the boot from your seat while the purser was watching-on have never spent 9 hours in a cabin with a salty UA FA. I think you made the right call.
@TWF I, personally, don’t care at all about a salty FA. I try to be kind but, just as I abide by the rules, I expect the crew to do so, as well. If they want to be salty for not getting special treatment, that’s ok with me. I sleep the whole flight anyways. I don’t need their service. Just my true window seat.
I think your decision to travel to effectively a war zone is highly irresponsible.
What possible valuable insight into what’s going on out there can you credibly give.
The answer is……nothing, quite frankly.
You’re not a journalist…..stick to reviewing a few flights and airport lounges
Oh look, it’s Donnie Downer. Thanks for your concern.
Not concerned at all…….I think most people who have read your intentions would say the same.
I get the impression from some of your replies to readers you’re somewhat insecure and can’t accept the opinions of anyone who doesn’t share your views.
Leave the war journalism to those qualified and experienced to do so.
You confuse amusement for insecurity.
@Mark, you assume the worst, but there are many reasons why traveling to Ukraine during the war can be a benefit to Ukrainian citizens.
To err is human.. Since he is a Senior man.. perhaps his vision is not great any more… or he wanted to snag a window seat. Fumbling for his boarding pass and a seasoned aviator? lol.
I’m confused. Aren’t 15A and 12A both window seats?
Sort of. But only odd-numbered seats are “true” windows.
@Crakg in business class, they stagger the single “window” seats so that in every other row the seat is beside the window with the “cubby” bordering the aisle and every other row has the seat bordering the aisle with the cubby by the window. The former is far more desirable than the latter.
Ewww a titled seat, never sat in one of those and hope I don’t have to anytime soon! Seat alerts has always come in clutch when I’m in a titled seat! I would ask for compensation for being put in a titled seat in this scenario.
Lol spell check really messed me up here
tilted* seat, AKA all the even number Polaris seats
There’s something to be said for window seats at night and two things spring to mind; flying from Hong Kong to Paris overnight across Siberia, when you could, and seeing lights down below and thinking ‘what are all those towns doing in Siberia?’and after a bit realising it was the full Moon reflecting off lakes and ponds.Another flying from Rio de Janeiro to Madrid and somewhere over the Atlantic seeing Scorpius hanging in the skies over the ocean.
I’m a cynic. He’s a pilot. He knows how to read the row numbers. He just wanted the inside window and not the outside. The outside is far less comfortable, even for sleeping as you are practically in the aisle. The true window much cozier.
Matthew, you are too nice. I would have asked him politely to take his assigned seat and explained to him why…which he already knew and was why he grabbed it.
Maybe I misunderstood what the point of your little story is but it was a lot of words about a retired pilot in your seat. Something you saw as a reason to share with the world. You start off mentioning you are off on a journey to Ukraine. There are people who have lost family and loved ones. Many without heat, electricity and have even lost their homes. Get a grip man. Something tells me you aren’t headed there to take up arms and right for Ukraine. Sit in your seat and shut up
@Heiss… he couldn’t sit in his seat…. because there was a pilot sitting in it.
100% agree Heis. Unbelievable complaint while flying into a war zone. Get a little focus. I guess go ahead and enjoy the entitlement now, because it’s not going to be all about you when you land.
All this does is call attention to the problem of non revs being offered. Airline management is corrupted because they allow this practice to continue instead of refuse non rev ticketing in a new contract with employees. It would be better for pilots and flight attendants be paid a little more than have non revs. Non revs routinely fill up premium cabins, disturb paying passengers, and the occasional gate agent will say a confirmed seat is non functional/broken/or oversold when he or she is getting it for a non rev friend. Airlines struggle because management doesn’t take a hard stance that they won’t tolerate these concessions in new labor contracts.
@John Dogass…still living up to your reputation I see.
Okay? Did this really need a whole article? No. Clickbait! Must be a slow day with the stories.
Ugh look out the window code for I like to leave the one shade open while the whole plane has all the shades closed. What are you looking at clouds? Oh wow.
Wow. Picked up my electronic device this morning and ran across this drivel. Somehow, someone has decided this collection of clueless, self important narcissistic individuals should detail the completely inconsequential details of their lives and broadcast to the world their various biases and sense of entitlement as if anyone cares. Get over yourselves, this situation is really not that interesting or noteworthy.
And yet, you took the time to comment. We thank you.
Karen needs a hug.
You’re kind. I’m not. I would have very patiently waited for the gentleman to move his stuff to his seat. I may have even offered to help him. But, you won’t find me giving up my true window seat for the aisle-ish seat. And, had they insisted I do so, I would have suggested that they need to reconsider before i file a formal complaint with the airline. Innocent or not…. when the mistake is discovered, you move.
And where is the story?
What is the point of this story? Pointing out someone’s mistake? Illustrating how gracious you are? Calling out the FA but then approving of how they handled it? To generate an ugly opinion battle in the comments?
I mean, what’s the point?!?!
No one has ever sit in the wrong seat?
I’m a retired pilot. You commenters should stop assuming the worst.
Aww….it is no problem, no problem at all. It is such a non-problem that you had to come whine about it on your little rag of a travel blog because you are a weak little twit who couldn’t deal with the issue in person.
Lol. Thanks for the click loser.
Probably a wise choice under those circumstances
No way. Odd row seats much better. I had to do an even row seat once when original seat was broken. Will never do again if avoidable
Yea, sorry…..your worthless little rag doesn’t get any ad revenue from me, I block all the ads. So….instead of running your cock sucker, next time just go have a nice little game of hide and go fuck yourself instead.
Something tells me you replied to the wrong comment. lol Kind of loses some of its sting when you don’t even know how to click the correct Reply button!
I assure you that while these shenanigans may have happed in the 80’s they do not happen purposely today or in the last decade for that matter. United is very protective of their frequent travelers at any level and offer upgrades to all of them first before a non-rev is offered a seat up front….especially on international flight. Gate agents are almost militant in their protection of these beloved passengers who provide the base revenue to United. The only exception to this rule is when I pilot is on a DH to operate another flight when he or she lands at the destination…..at which time they are given a first class seat…IF and only IF one is available….I am sorry this happened to you and wan to thank for your business. Personally I would have insisted that you have your original seat and apologized profusely for my mistake…..I would have also taken responsibility for possibly upsetting the flight attendant who was simply trying to get the flight out on time…she knew she was gonna give you the service you earned regardless of the first class seat you were in and was more worried about getting you to your destination on time. I thought it was a great story and it gives me some insight into the perception of our valued passengers.
People accidentally taking the wrong seat happens thousands of times a day. I think it says more about the author, who deemed this non-event somehow noteworthy of writing an “article” about it. That so many people have gotten so upset about it and spent so many minutes that they will never get back expounding on it might be the actual “story”.
At the end of the day, even OP says that it was nothing. People make mistakes. The only people who don’t make mistakes are six feet under the ground.
I was a flight attendant for United Aurlines for 10 years, and did whatever I could to bless each passenger, regardless of rank. We had fun in First Class on my watch. Everyone ate, watched movies and slept on my watch. I appreciate all the comments, but what stands out to me is the grace and poise of the passengers, pilot, and Purser. We sure could use more of this in the “friendly skies” these days. Love to one and all who are faithful to my favorite airline!
Thanks for your comment!
Well said. I’m looking to become a flight attendant. I hope it’s not as difficult of an area to get into as some say.
Lol no big deal yet you wrote a whole entry about it. How do you manage it?
How is this an article? Why on earth did anyone spend any time writing this pointless thing? Wild. No one cares.
Wow. Great article. Your publisher should be ashamed for paying you anything.
Thanks for the click Py.
Hello, Interesting drama. Please list hours flown instead of miles flown. Your miles would equate to 400 flying hours. Don’t count miles flown in your credit card or hotel stays.