From Tiff: Am I a Jerk or Do I Have the Right to My Own Seat?

I fly on Spirit Airlines a lot. I am short. Our kids are still young. My husband flies on them too, and while it’s not the most comfortable flight for him, it’s still manageable.

My dad is over 6 ft tall and in his late 60s. I booked my parents a flight on Spirit once and he said “never again”. Even though the seat pitch is “only” 2-4 inches less than coach seats in other airlines, the flight was so uncomfortable for him he’d rather pay more money for a traditional carrier. Fair enough. I get that.

Yesterday I was flying home by myself on Spirit and got an aisle seat without paying for it ahead of time. Score! Then I saw the guy in the middle seat was of a football-player build. I felt bad for him being in the middle seat (he was next to his friend with a window).

The first thing I do when I sit down is put down the armrest if it’s not down already. I’m not ready to have that kind of comfort-level with someone I don’t know.

I felt bad because I knew this made the flight more uncomfortable for the guy next to me; but I felt awkward having a complete stranger “share” some of my seat.

This is a flight I only paid $42 for (round-trip). An exit row seat is $25 (each way) and a “Big Front Seat” is $40 each way. My assumption is the man had never flown Spirit before and had no idea how small the seats were. If he got a good fare for this flight I would say it’s definitely worth it for the extra $50 or $80 for a seat with more room. There was at least one exit row or big front seat available because the flight attendants announced it if anyone wanted to pay and move to one of those seats.

Should I have been more accommodating to someone who was clearly uncomfortable? Should the man have jumped at the chance to purchase a roomier seat? His friend at one point even offered to trade him for his window seat which he declined.

What do you think?

About Tiff

Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 10 and 6, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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  1. I flew Spirit for years, I commute weekly between DCA and FLL. After they left to BWI I never flew them again. It was only then that I realized how stupid I was to have ever flown them. I never paid for a bag fee, played the game, but then after the fact realized how dumb it is to even fly that airline. You’ll figure it out soon enough.

  2. I have never flown Spirit, but am interested in trying. We do have some Spirit miles from a giveaway. Do you have the Spirit credit card? Would love to hear how that works for booking award tickets!

    • I don’t have the Spirit credit card but I know you usually get a better rate using miles to fly if you have it than if you don’t.

  3. I think you were right. He had options and chose not to take them. Why should that be your problem?

  4. You are a jerk.

  5. This large passenger was not your responsibility. As young girls we were raised to take care of everyone else, but then who takes care of us? You are not a jerk for looking after yourself, and he is an adult. You need to drop your guilt complex.

  6. depends – was he cute?

  7. No, you deserve your seat. You paid for it after all! Honestly, in the age of the internet, how does one not know that Spirit is uncomfortable to fly if you’re a ‘big’ dude? If one doesn’t like it and finds it uncomfortable, he should have flown another airline, no?

    Personally, I’ve only ever flown Spirit once (actually to visit Jeanne) simply because it was so cheap and I was a poor grad student. But OMG, never again will I fly that airline. It’s just not worth it.

  8. I like spirit and normally pay for the big front seats as I’m tall. Only complaint I have with them is the low bag weight limit on paid checked bags. Adds insult to injury.

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