Origins: Airline customers have no shortage of things to be disgruntled about these
Many of us, though, don't make formal complaints, because we don't want to seem like trouble-makers, because we recognize that some things are beyond the airlines' control (they can't stop bad weather, for example), or because we just want to get where we're going without enduring the additional fuss and delay that following company procedures to register an official complaint would require.
I generally fit into the latter category: unless I'm the recipient of some egregiously bad treatment, I don't want to disrupt my schedule and expend even more time and effort filing a complaint that probably won't produce any tangible results (and the hassle of having to fill out a complaint form vitiates any satisfaction I might get from the act of complaining itself).
Frankly, the worst experience I can recall having on an airplane in the last several years was when I changed flights at the last minute and ended up having to sit in an aisle seat at the very back of the plane. It didn't find my seat to be a particularly desirable one — not only did sitting at the back of the plane practically guarantee I'd be one of the last passengers to get off (and I'm always in a hurry), but since nearly every commercial aircraft has lavatories (sometimes the only lavatories) in the back, I spent the whole flight with other passengers buffeting me as they traveled back and forth to the restroom and standing directly over me as they waited in line for it. But, I didn't complain, because somebody has to take that seat when a flight is full, and the only reason I was on that particular flight in the first place was because of my own last-minute change in plans, so it only seemed fair that I should get one of the less desirable seats.
A PDF document (available for viewing here) purportedly records the feelings of a passenger who had an experience similar (but worse by several degrees) to mine and undertook the effort to jot down his thoughts while the flight was in progress and send them off to the airline. The seven-page note (complete with humorous illustrations) documents the travails of a passenger who finds himself sitting not just in the last row before
The document is dated
Although readers should view the original document for full effect, we've transcribed it below (keeping spelling and punctuation errors intact) for those who don't have a PDF reader installed on their computers or have too slow a connection to download the whole file.
I am disgusted as I write this note to you about the miserable experience I am having sitting in seat 29E on one of your aircrafts. As you may know, this seat is situated directly across from the lavatory, so close that I can reach out my left am and touch the door.
All my senses are being tortured simultaneously. It's difficult to say what the worst part about sitting in 29E really is? Is it the stench of the sanitation fluid that's blown all over my body every
I constructed a stink-shield by shoving one end of a blanket into the overhead
I am picturing a board room full of executives giving props to the young promising engineer that figured out how to squeeze an additional row of seats onto this plane by putting them next to the LAV. I would like to flush his head in the toilet that I am close enough to touch, and taste, from my seat.
Putting a seat here was a very bad idea. I just heard a man groan in there! This sucks!
Worse yet, is I've paid over $400.00 for the honor of sitting in this seat!
Does your company give refunds? I'd like to go back where I came from and start over. Seat 29E could only be worse if it was located inside the bathroom.
I wonder if my clothing will retain the sanitizing odor . . . what about my hair! I feel like I'm bathing in a toilet bowl of blue liquid, and there is no man in a little boat to save me.
I am filled with a deep hatred for your plane designer and a general dis-ease that may last for hours.
We are finally decending, and soon I will be able to tear down the stink-shield, but the scars will remain.
I suggest that you initiate immediate removal of this seat from all of your crafts. Just remove it, and leave the smouldering brown hole empty, a good place for sturdy/non-absorbing luggage maybe, but not human cargo.
The letter is not totally accurate and uses sarcastic humor to make the seat sound a lot worse than it is. But we don't want to pooh-pooh this customer's
Zorn, Eric.   "An Urban Truth: The Seat 29-E Complaint." Chicago Tribune. 22 July 2005.