Passengers airplane
Photograph ©2023 by Brian Cohen.

Trade Middle Seat Because of Frequent Lavatory Use?

What would you do?

While I was seated aboard an airplane earlier today for a flight during the boarding process, a passenger attempted to trade his middle seat with a woman who was sitting in an aisle seat because of frequent lavatory use as the reason.

Trade Middle Seat For Frequent Lavatory Use?

As he arrived at the row of seats across the aisle from where I was sitting, he approached the woman who was already sitting in the aisle seat. He said that because he needs to use the lavatory frequently, would she be willing to sit in the middle seat to which he was assigned so that he can he can sit in her aisle seat.

Bewildered, she asked him to repeat his request, which he did.

She flat out refused his request.

I do not know whether he suffered with trying to restrain himself from using the lavatory because he did not want to disturb the female passenger — or if he fell asleep in his middle seat for the duration of approximately two hours for the flight. Regardless, he moved very little in his seat.

Final Boarding Call

Some people legitimately do have issues with controlling their bladders. They frequently experience discomfort. The thought of disturbing fellow passengers so that they can use the lavatory can seem unnecessarily daunting and intrusive.

Does the male passenger have a small bladder which causes him to frequently use toilets? When he booked a ticket for this flight, perhaps only middle seats were available and he had no choice but to select one…

…or was he simply using an excuse to not sit in a middle seat for the duration of the flight?

If someone approached you to trade a middle seat because of frequent lavatory use, would you accommodate the request and give up your aisle seat?

Photograph ©2023 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I am the one who frequently needs to use the facilities. I have never thought to ask someone to trade seats, though.

    But it is an odd situation to constantly (near hourly) have to climb over the aisle passenger in order to use the restroom. While needing to urgently use the restroom. I do sympathize with this man. And I find an abrupt refusal to be a bit unnecessary. That said, I have no real issue with being in the middle seat either.

    1. Pay for an aisle set then or wait for the next flight if no aisle seats are available. No sympathy for scammers and poor planners!

  2. I have had an occasion where I had to fly and recovering from a hospital stay I was on a water pill. I wasn’t able to avoid travel that time. I was in First, in a window seat (all that was available). I advised the person in the aisle that for medical reasons I would need to likely access the lavatory 3-4 times during the 3.5 hour flight so I apologize in advance for asking to get past. I didn’t ask to swap seats. The response was a kind of “hrrmff” and “Well I plan on sleeping so…..” As if to say “good luck with that.” I didn’t respond. About 45 minutes after takeoff, I needed up. Whether asleep or ignoring me, aisle seat wouldn’t reply. I waved hand in front of face, no response. I tapped arm on the armrest, no response. Caught the flight attendant’s gaze and she came over and jolted him into responding rather violently. He was not happy, then when I returned to seat, had pulled out his laptop and set it up (knowing full well I would be right back) then acted inconvenienced. Another 45 minutes later, I needed up. He told me he was in the middle of something and wouldn’t let me out “maybe in ten minutes.” Call button rang. F/A instructed him to either grow up or he could go sit in the back at the kids table (one time I was glad for the brusqueness of some AA crew). I came back to find him in my seat with my under seat bag sitting in his seat and he didn’t look my way the rest of the flight.

    I don’t think I would take a middle seat, but as someone who can’t sleep on airplanes unless fully flat, I am more than happy to stop what I’m doing to let someone out, meaning I will get up and stand in the aisle. And probably take my opportunity while up to use the lavatory or stretch legs anyway. That’s part of sitting in an aisle seat.

    1. I always try to book an aisle seat for the same reason. However, when I can’t do that, I tell my seatmate the same thing. I have never had a problem. Too bad you had to sit beside a real jerk. I have had people ask me to move so they could get out to use the lavatory and I find that a great time to stretch after sitting in those uncomfortable seats.

  3. I flew in business class on Qantas around 2002. In those days, there were no compartments or lie flat seats. It was just a pair of seats that reclined fairly far back. With a window seat, it was occasionally necessary to either wake up the passenger sitting in the aisle seat or climbing over them. I did both.

  4. If I were presented with the dilemma facing the aisle seat passenger in this account of the events that transpired, I as the aisle seat passenger would say “There is no need to switch, just let me know whenever you need to get up, no trouble for me to get up as well.”

    1. That is what I usually do when I sit in an aisle seat, Greg.

      I typically sit in a window seat. In the very rare time that I need to access the aisle to either use the lavatory or simply need to walk around after sitting so long — which is usually during a long transoceanic flight — I politely ask the people in the middle seat and the aisle seat. I never have been denied.

      I am also thankfully able to wait until the person in the middle seat or the aisle seat get up. I then get up as well for minimal disruption.

  5. I wouldn’t change my seat — but I would be cordial and tell them I totally understood and would be happy to get up and stretch my legs as many times as they needed.

  6. I am one of those passengers with frequent use of the lav who book an aisle seat for that very reason. If I pay extra to get a seat for my convenience and comfort, it is a rare instance that I would give up that seat.

  7. I always purchase a seat, mostly a window. I boarded a 2 hr flight to Vegas and an elderly man was in my seat, his wife in the middle beside him. I politely told him he was in seat and he ignored me, his wife looked up at me apologetically and shrugged. I asked a second time for him to move, he flat out looked out the window and didn’t respond, his wife then told me he likes the window. Confused, I said as do I so I pay for it to ensure I get one. Ignored by both. Now people are watching and listening so I backed down, took a free seat and fumed the rest of the trip. BTW, I was 71. On my return trip a week later astonishing enough they were seated directly in front of me, he in the window as was I. I’ll just say he never got his nap in as I was accidentally bumping his seat regular and often.

    1. If you paid for that seat assignment, JAMIE I OLEKSY, you should have brought what was happening to the attention of one of the members of the flight crew.

      You likely would have gotten the window seat for which you paid.

  8. I wouldn’t trade because that is the exact reason why I always get an aisle seat, whether I pay for it or get lucky. On the other hand, I never mind having to get up to accommodate that person

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