Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Seatguru and other sources unanimously say that the last row of seats in every airplane is the worst, no matter what type of plane is involved. Limited or no recline, galley & lavatory proximity, sometimes noise from the engines or seats protruding in the aisle, they all provide a cocktail of elements that makes this the unmatched leader of the “Avoid” group. While I’m not a frequent flier, I fly often enough to know these things. I only found myself twice in that row, and I can tell you for me those were the best seats in the plane.

Let me explain: first time it happened in 2012, flying from Montreal to Vancouver with my wife and (then) 2 year old son. The plane that was supposed to take us to Vancouver had some mechanical problems and our flight was postponed for 6 hours. As any parent knows and non-parents might imagine, staying 6 more hours with a 2 year old child in an airport can be an awful experience, so the second I heard the news, I bolted to the transfer desk in the airport and pleaded with the agent to re-book us on the first available flight out, which meant only 2 more hours of waiting. She did her best, and she managed to get us the last available seats on the plane. As the last row is avoided like the plague, you can guess we were seated all the way back, and we were happy to reach Vancouver shortly before midnight instead of 3 or 4 am.

The second time was this summer. Connecting through Madrid with my wife and two sons on our way home from vacation, we slipped through the cracks of the system. The checkin agent at Tenerife Airport checked us and our bags on our connecting flight, but due to an error in the system, she could not print our boarding passes. So we were in the unique and unenviable position of being checked in on a flight and not being able to prove it. Thus, in Madrid, we were not allowed to go to the gate, and due to the short time between our flights and general cluelessness of the people at that airport, which sent us from desk to desk all through Terminal 4, we were stranded on the outside of the boarding area not able to get in, with the gate agent holding the plane for almost an hour rightfully thinking we were loitering somewhere in the boarding area.

We obviously missed our flight and had to wait in the terminal for an endless 6 hours until check-in for the next available flight opened. We explained to one of the agents our position, and in turn she called the supervisor, which was very helpful and understanding. They worked for about an hour to get us on that flight, making phone calls and fighting the computer system which seemed not to want us to go home that day, and in the end, they got us seats on the plane. Can you guess which seats? Obviously, the ones at the very end of the plane. They were the best seats ever!

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