AEE 1203: Flying? How to Ask for a Seat Swap in English

When you fly do you have a preference of which seat you get?

Do you like the window seat or are you more a fan of the aisle seat?

Sometimes when you are on a flight, you may want to change your seat. It’s actually quite common in this type of travel scenario.

Today we are going to talk about how to change seats on an airplane in English.

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Thinking Through This Common Situation

So why exactly might people change seats on a plane?

There are a number of reasons but it may be to sit near family, because you need a bit of extra space, or even because you need to be an aisle because you get sick.

So how can you do this gracefully?

It’s okay to ask to change seats, but you should understand it may be slightly irritating to someone and they may even say no.

It is therefore very important that you do it correctly, so that you come across the right way.

Don’t forget- tone of voice matters greatly here!

If you have ever had somebody ask you in a rushed way, it doesn’t make you want to help them.

Don’t feel bad if you are saying no for a certain reason, just be kind and they will surely understand.

Steps To Help You

There are a few steps that can help you to gracefully ask about changing seats.

Always remember that with each step in the process, it’s all about the tone of voice and approach.

  1. Introduction – You might want to start with either “excuse me” or “I’m sorry to bother you” . This can help with the approach and set the tone.
  2. Ask the question – You have to put it out there, and therefore you have to just ask the question gracefully. Sometimes the best phrase here is “Would you mind…..?” Example: Would you mind switching seats? Would you mind if we switched seats?
  3. Explain the reason– My husband is sitting in that seat and I’d like to sit next to him if you wouldn’t mind. Put the identifiable reason out there so that they can understand why you’re asking in the first place.
  4. Wait for the answer--Don’t put pressure on the person or come across as impatient. Simply wait patiently for their answer to the request that you have given them.
  5. Thank them or say I understand--No matter what their answer is, you have to be kind about it. Either a simple thank you or an understanding will help with the situation.

If you are saying no, it’s always nice to offer up some sort of reason.

You can say something like “I’m really sorry but…” and explain the reason so that nobody is upset with your reaction.

Role plays To Help

Let’s look at a couple of examples to show how this can work.

This is a situation that you want to be prepared for when you travel via plane, and then you know how to work through it.

L: Excuse me miss?

M: Yes?

L: Would you mind switching seats with me? My family is sitting on the other side of the aisle so if I could get an aisle seat that would be great.

M: Oh um. I really like the aisle seat and I specifically booked it online.

L: Oh okay. I understand. Thanks anyway!

M: Sorry!

M: I’m sorry to bother you, but would you mind if we switched seats? I’m pretty tall so I could use the leg room.

L: Oh um…okay

M: Thank you so much!!

It’s an art and has so much to do with reading people and making those connections.

Changing seats is just one part of it, and a perfect place to start.

Takeaway

It’s great to ask someone to change seats in English, and it’s perfectly acceptable.

As long as you explain the reason and are nice about it, people will understand.

If you can tell the person feels uncomfortable, maybe try backing off before they say no.

It’s okay to ask, but know that sometimes may not feel comfortable with it.

Knowing how to ask for something or talk through this scenario in English can be a really great way to make connections.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


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