As is often the case when I am departing on a weekday from Frankfurt, I stay far longer than I should in my office and find myself making a mad dash to make my flight.
Yesterday was no different and my gate was all the way down in Terminal C, an unexplored section of Frankfurt International Airport for me and a long walk from the friendly confines of Terminal A.
The security screeners, usually really good, thought my noise cancelling headphones looked suspicious so they had to swab it for explosives. Naturally that always occurs when you are late for a flight and the guy doing the swabbing could not have been slower–a perfect candidate for the TSA.
I reached the empty gate area just as the final call for the flight reverberated down the departure hall. At this point I was still unsure whether to fly business or economy class. Business is always a treat, but I have trouble sleeping on angled lie-flat seats. When available, I prefer a row of economy seats to myself.
Although the aircraft was almost full, the agent located one empty row of three for me and told me it would be all mine during the flight. Onboard, though, I found a little old lady in my seat. Little old lady or not, I had work to do the next day and was counting on three seats so I could curl up and sleep.
Because the woman happened to be sitting in my assigned seat, I did not mind telling her that was in the wrong seat. With a frown on her face, but not a word, she made the walk of shame back to her seat.
Moments later, I saw her spring up and wedge into a vacant exit row seat (next to a passenger of size) in the front of the cabin. She must not have liked that because she was soon back at my row, extolling the comfort and legroom of her exit row seat (in broken English) and insisting that I trade with her so that I could have more legroom.
I smiled and shook my head, stating firmly that I would not be moving seats. Then she pulled the age card on me, stating that she was an old woman and needed to rest during the flight. I simply smiled and said “I am an old man and need to rest during the flight. I have work in the morning.” She got the message and returned back to her poached exit row seat.
I thought that would be the end of it, but this was one determined woman. After the meal service I got up to stretch my legs and use the lavatory. Lo and behold, when I returned there was someone in my seat, well seats actually–the woman had returned and was feigning sleep across the three seats with my blanket!
My first instinct was to hit the FA call button, but I figured the FAs might just let the lady stay in the window seat and rob me of a good night’s rest. So I gently nudged her. She ignored me. I tapped on her again and she sat up and yawned.
Remaining silent, I gave her the evil eye and shook my head. She got the picture and returned to her seat. And I got six hours of sleep.