Given, this is not really a “problem” so to speak, in that many folks never get to sit up front when they fly. I get that chance quite frequently and it makes the drain of frequent travel a bit less draining.
For those that aren’t familiar, in a standard domestic first class configuration on a narrow- body jet, there are generally 3 storage areas under the seat in front of you. There’s a “full-size” storage are in front of the window seat and another “full-size” storage area directly next to that one. Closest to the aisle is another under seat storage area, but it’s generally only 2/3 as wide as the other two areas. As an exception, in some planes, like the MD-80s in the American Airlines fleet, instead of two equally sized storage areas there’s one large area for the two passengers to split, then that smaller area. All of these areas are usually separated by the legs of the seat in front of you.
After literally hundreds of flights, I’ve always operated under the impression that when there are two sections under the seat in front of equal size, one is for the window seat passenger, the other for the aisle. The “bonus” of that aisle seat is that extra space, though it’s generally not big enough to fit any bag I travel with (a standard backpack usually won’t fit).
On a recent flight I boarded the window passenger had already boarded and put his bag in the middle section, the full-size section closest to me. I politely noted to him that the under seat section his bag occupied was generally for the passenger sitting in the aisle seat and that the one directly in front of his seat was his.
He wasn’t in a very polite mood and told me his bag wouldn’t fit there. I mentioned that the spaces were essentially the same size and I pointed to the smaller section in front of my seat and noted my bag didn’t fit there even though my bag was smaller than his. I also noted that it had long been my understanding that his bag belonged in the space in front of his seat.
He said he’d never heard of that and suggested in a not so polite manner that my bag would fit in the overhead bin.
There’s no question there was a time I would have either stood on principle or picked a fight here, but hundreds of thousands of miles in metal tubes have numbed me a bit. Not to mention, folks are a bit more testy when they fly nowadays.
I’m curious to hear your opinion. Am I wrong in my understanding of who claims what under the seat in front of you?