Dear TripAdvisor: Health issues force flyer to seek aisle seat

Jun 29 2013 - 11:05pm

Q I fly quite a bit for work -- often very long-haul flights from the U.S. to Europe and Asia. I recently had a physical, and my doctor told me I'm at risk of developing blood clots if I sit in one place for too long. He said I should get up and walk around the cabin every hour or so to make sure blood isn't pooling in my legs.

I have a flight coming up and I am in a window seat. I absolutely dread the thought of asking my seatmates over and over again to please let me out, especially if they intend to sleep on the flight. However, the seat map online shows no available aisle seats. Should I ask the person in the aisle seat if he or she would like to switch with me? Would the crew ask someone to change seats with me? Please let me know. I hate to be a bother, but my doctor really has me worried about this.

A: Keep an eye on that online seat map. People change reservations all the time, and an aisle seat may open up. Also, call your airline. If you have frequent-flier status, call that help line first (in my experience, it's usually faster, and you'll get more-polite assistance), but if not, try regular customer service and explain your situation. You can try this at the airport check-in desk as well, and you can certainly ask the cabin crew for help or ask someone to switch seats with you. Simply say something like, "I have a medical condition that requires me to get up and walk around the cabin frequently. Unfortunately, I couldn't get an aisle seat. I apologize in advance for having to ask you to let me out. Or, if you'd prefer, we could change seats."

They may decline, of course. Who knows? Perhaps the person in the aisle seat also has concerns about their circulation. In that case, just be as polite as possible when you ask them to let you pass by. For example, if mealtime is approaching, you might want to do your walkabout before your seatmates put their tray tables down.

Q: Is it OK to put food in the overhead compartment? Some guy on my flight last week brought a foot-long sub sandwich and shoved it up there with everyone's luggage. Fortunately, it was some sort of Italian sub, so it wasn't terribly messy, but still. I think that's rude.

A: I agree. Put your sandwich under your seat, not in the overhead compartment. Nobody else wants their carry-on luggage to smell like deli meats. Or, better yet, eat it in the airport!

Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at deartripadvisor@tripadvisor.com.

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