Man refuses to give pregnant woman his seat on 12-hour flight – and people take his side

He refused to swap seats with the pregnant woman (stock)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A man confessed to feeling guilty after he refused to give up his plane seat for a pregnant woman, but online strangers are backing him after he shared his story.

The 28-year-old was flying from New York, US, to Hawaii on a gruelling 12-hour flight and had booked a 'comfort seat' in advance, which cost him around £200 and points.

But trouble arose when, having settled into his seat, he was approached by a pregnant woman who asked to swap because she was struggling with her condition. Recounting the incident on Reddit, he wrote: "About 15 minutes before takeoff, a visibly pregnant woman was walking up and down towards the front of the plane.

"She and a flight attendant looked around for a moment, talked a bit, and then the lady approached me asking if I would be willing to switch seats with her due to her condition. I politely declined. I explained that I had specifically booked this seat because I'm pretty long (I'm 6'4 tall) and that I needed the extra comfort and space."

Despite the flight attendant's understanding and attempts to find another passenger to switch seats, no one agreed, leaving the man wrestling with guilt and wondering if he had made the right choice.

The man elaborated: "If I agreed they would have reimbursed me for the extra cost via a voucher so that my ticket would've been the cost of the normal economy ticket. I'm not certain if the pregnant lady would've had to pay extra to switch with me because I just politely declined a few times and we didn't get into that level of detail."

He further explained: "The pregnant lady then told me I wouldn't understand what it feels like to be a woman carrying a baby in this summer heat, got upset, and eventually had to return to her seat in the back. Throughout the flight, I felt awkward passing by her every time on the way to the bathroom. When I landed, I couldn't help but feel guilty."

Reflecting on his experience, he shared: "I'm a young man without the burden of carrying a child in me and totally could've sacrificed a bit.. and wondered if I had been wrong to prioritise my comfort over someone who might have needed it more."

While many social media users supported his decision, others suggested the expectant mother should have anticipated her discomfort and made suitable arrangements.

One user commented: "She had the option of purchasing a more comfortable seat. Unless Delta was willing to compensate you for the seat-swap I would not expect you to just 'gift' her your seat. I have done seat swaps before and United has always looked after me. I pay extra for the better seats and do not want to be squashed into a cubbyhole for twelve hours."

Another user chimed in: "You paid for that seat, and she paid for hers. She could have booked a different class if she wanted to. Most likely she knew she would be this pregnant when she booked the flight. It is unfortunate the situation she is in, truly, but unless a medical emergency were happening I'm not sure why you would be expected to give up your seat."

A third user expressed: "Many a pregnant woman has survived economy class. If she had wanted the extra space, she also could have paid for it like you did. The other people could have also switched. But didn't. This isn't on you."