I was on a flight where an extended family selected one 3 seat row for a mom & 2 kids, and also selected 4 window seats & 4 isle seats leaving the center seats open. I was one of the last on the plane & had to sit in between two family members who continually showed pictures to each others on their phones and talked over me and to other family members in front & behind. I asked if they wanted to sit next to each other but they declined saying they didn’t like the middle seat. I think the Southwest flight attendants should have moved them together and freed the isle seats for the last boarded passengers like me.
That seating situation does not sound like fun. I probably would not have bothered the flight attendant, but instead, after the second round of being talked over, I would have something like “Kind folks, I understand that no one likes the middle seat, but I cannot relax if I am being constantly talked over, so may I please insist that one of us swap? I don’t care if I get the aisle or the window, but I really dislike being the in-between in this conversation. Surely you all can see that it makes me uncomfortable to be an unwanted third person in this two-way conversation. I appreciate your understanding.”
I don’t know if that would have worked but I would have felt better saying it. I try my best not to be spiteful, but if they still said no thanks, I might have said “ok,” then whipped out that 15 inch laptop.
I am sorry that that this happened to you. Fortunately, I think it is rare. I always cringe inside a little when I hear flight attendants say “Take any seat you like,” only because I prefer “Take any seat that is open” which I find more accurate.
I have seen similar strategies used but more often the family does condense at the end when it becomes obvious that there won't be empty middle seats after all.
I can also assure you that the FA aren't saving any aisle seats for the last to board, you are defintely slotted for a middle seat at that point.
It is a saavy Southwest traveler that sees two people obviously traveling together in aisle and window positions and slyly asks for the middle, expecting them to condense and you luck into a late boarding aisle seat. But sometimes they don't want to sit together and into the middle you go!
Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.