Flight Risk


“You had ONE JOB!” Is what Julie said to me when she came home from work and I told her what I’d done.

Twenty-four hours before our flight to New York, I was the one who had to check us in online. Julie was working at the time the online check-in opened, so it meant that the awesome responsibility of picking our seats was mine. If I chose the wrong ones, I’d be reminded of it repeatedly many times during the seven hour flight from Heathrow.

I wasn’t that worried beforehand, I’ve checked in online loads of times. I’ve got the British Airways app on my phone. It’s easy, they even send the boarding card to the phone, you don’t even have to print anything out.

The best seats on a plane are as close to the door as possible so you’re not one of the last ones off, meaning you’ll spend longer in the queue for immigration and customs. The door is always on the left hand side, so as close to the front as possible on the left is the way to go. The other thing to go for is a seat that doesn’t have a seat directly in front of it so you get more leg room, aisle seats are better still because you get more freedom to get up when you want without bothering a sleeping stranger.

I was at my desk at work just before ten past one, exactly twenty-four hours before the flight. I knew there could be hundreds of other people doing the same thing, ready to switch their allocated seats to better ones, I’d have to be quick.

I was all set, the British Airways app was open on my phone and the display was showing a countdown to the check-in opening. Five, four, three, two, one, go!

 I checked us both in and then went to change our seats. The ones we were allocated were in row 63, I knew I could do better than that. The pressure was on, how does this work again? The seating plan showed most seats in white, others in blue. Were the blue ones already taken or were only the blue ones available? Frantic trial and error proved that the white ones were open.

 The first row of economy was row 33 and I found that 33B and 33C were available, left hand side, middle and aisle. I successfully re-allocated myself into 33B, and a boarding card downloaded to my phone, perfect!

All I had to do now was move Julie. That’s when the trouble started. It turns out that although two people on the same booking can check in on the iPhone app, you can’t change the other person’s seat or get their boarding card on it. Now, I’d managed to book us in seats more than thirty rows apart!

I logged into BA.com on my computer at work, entered the booking reference, found the seating plan and went to move Julie to the seat next to me but it was now taken! In the five minutes it had taken me to move my seat, faff about and log into the computer, someone else had decided they wanted to cross the Atlantic sat next to me! I went to move me back to my original seat next to Julie and couldn’t believe what I saw, someone was sat next to her now!

I was in full-on panic mode now. It didn’t help that I was at work, any second now, the boss could ask me to do something important, the phone had already rung twice and I’d ignored it. That’s when I spotted that two of the best seats in economy class had just become available. A second ago they were taken but now they were free! 33D and 33E are on the front row of economy, the two left hand seats of the four middle seats on the Boeing 747-400 no one in front! I moved, us, confirmed and printed out two boarding cards. I couldn’t believe someone had these two perfect seats and had given them up!

It was when I logged in again, to admire my handy work that I noticed a word above all four of those middle seats that we were booked into two of. The word was “cot”.

These were the seats that have fold down cots in front of them. This is the part of the plane where they put the screaming, pooing, spewing babies!

 Craic on!

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