Ive moved you to an aisle seat, said the ticket agent at the airline counter last week. No, I dont want an aisle seat, I replied in my studied patient tone. If I had wanted an aisle seat, thats what I would have reserved. I reserved a window seat, I said. But it will be in row 23. I can get you an aisle seat in row 7. No, I dont care where it is. I just want a window seat. Can you see a little? the ticket man asked. No, but I have a lot of reasons why I want a window seat, I barely got out without a growl.
I didnt want to get into the reasons with this guy, but Ill share them with you. I prefer a window seat on a plane for several reasons. First, its the one seat where you dont have a person wedged in with you on both sides. Secondly, I had a terrible cold, and I wanted to keep my germs to myself, and the only place I had a shot at that was a window seat, so I could turn my head and cough into a handkerchief toward the window. Then, another reason why I dont like the aisle seat is that it seems so right there in the middle of everybody, especially if youre traveling with a guide dog. I didnt have Pippen with me this time, and its a good thing, because that would have added another layer of frustration at the ticket counter. When they see the dog, they immediately move you to the bulkhead seats, assuming that there is more room for the dog there. On some planes, this is true, but in my experience, its usually not. In fact, there is less room. You cant tuc the dog under the seat in front of you, because there is a wall, the bulkhead, there. In addition, you dont have access to your stuff, because it has to go in the overhead compartment. Ive had the ticket agent move me to a bulkhead seat, even when I dont have a dog with me, without consulting me first. They see a blind woman standing there and assume she needs the bulkhead, just like so many people assume a person with vision impairment needs a bathroom stall that is built for people with disabilities. I dont need a big stall, when its just me.
The biggest reason I dont like the aisle seat is that its very awkward when the person who has the seat next to me arrives at the row and stands there, staring at me, and wondering why I dont get up and let him in. He doesnt know Im blind, and I dont know hes wanting to get into my row, because of course it wouldnt occur to him to say something out loud, like, Excuse me, I need to get into your row. So to just avoid all this, just give me a window seat, the one I reserved when I reserved my ticket. Do we really have to make a federal case out of this? Can everybody just quit assuming they know what I need? I know they are just trying to help, but its always better to ask the person herself which she would prefer.
This story does have a happy ending. It seems that the ticket guy just couldnt give up. He was determined to not let me sit in the back of the plane, so I wound up in first class. What a pleasant surprise. I had my window seat, oodles of footroom, a nice roomy seat, and a cup of coffee even before we left the gate.