From Athens I had a few hours to kill in Amsterdam, so I rushed to my mom's favorite chocolate shop to pick up a few of her beloved truffles, crossed over to the post office to mail some twizzlers for E, and sampled a croissant in a cozy cafe with an open kitchen (pictured below). All I was hoping to do on the plane to the U.S. was sleep, but there was one slight impediment...
"Yes, they are," the check-in agent told me.
"Really. Because F is usually a middle seat on intercontinental fligts." ( I know big jets are rarely six seats across, where F would fall. If there was room on the plane or it was at all possible, I wanted to avoid the middle seat on the longest leg of the trip.)
He looked me squarely in the eyes. "No. It's a window seat."
His colleague looked at the boarding pass and confirmed.
Only when I boarded the long flight in Amsterdam, I thought I'd ask again. I've never seen an F seat on a window on large planes. Just thought I'd check...
"Is this a window seat?"
"No it's not," the agent told me.
"Excellent. Two of your colleagues in Athens looked me straight in the eye and lied to me. I don't mind where the seat is, but I don't like being lied to."
"I'm sorry!" she replied.
"It's fine. But if anything opens up, would you mind switching my seat?"
Meanwhile, my neighbors in line, a missionary minister and his wife who'd been preaching in Russia, asked what was going on.
"No big deal. I'm just annoyed because they told me I had a window and it's not."
They nodded sympathetically, and the minister told me it happens to him all the time. I felt I needed to clarify, since I probably sounded like a major whiner.
"I don't care about seat itself, but it's exasperating that they don't even have the courtesy to give you a straight answer. But, I've learned not to expect anything from airlines other than a place to park my butt and a seatbelt, so it's really no big deal. I just hope we get there safely."
A few days earlier, a plane crashed in Buffalo, killing everyone on board. I think that tragedy was on travelers' minds that day, both thoughts of sympathy and self-preservation.
Twenty minutes later, the agent called me back to the desk. She managed to find a comfy spot on the full plane, a window seat, perfect for dozing.
Gained: Exactly what I wanted, after making a bit of a racket.