The Occupants of Seat 10-F
On Friday I boarded a US Airways flight from Denver to Las Vegas. Because I'd been a polite and patient customer while waiting for my boarding pass and for my luggage to be checked, Joyce, the friendly US Airways service agent told me she'd try to get me a seat with legroom.
"You're in luck Mr. Thompson. We have Seat 10-F available and I've put you in it. That's a window seat on an exit row."
I fly enough to know that getting this max-legroom seat at the check-in counter shortly before your flight is like winning $100 on a rub-off lottery ticket.
I had just settled into seat 10-F when a large man and his wife stopped in the aisle and he said:
"Sorry buddy, but you're in my seat."
Me: "Is this 10-F?"
Big Guy: "Yep and that's MY seat."
Big Guy's wife, to me: "You should check your boarding pass."
Me: "Here it is. 10-F."
Mrs. Big Guy: "Hey, honey, he's got YOUR name on his boarding pass!"
Me, looking at my boarding pass: "No, William Thompson, that's me."
The Big Guys: "No way! I'm William Thompson, too!"
They sit down next to me and we ring the call attendant button. A gate attendant comes on board to ask for my ID. She explains that I booked through US Airways and the other Bill Thompson, booked through AmericaWest. (Apparently all the kinks are not yet worked out in the merger of these two companies.) Since there were two Bill Thompsons booked onto the same flight for the same seat, the system had automatically deleted my ticket for my return trip. I handed her my driver's license and she sprinted off the plane. This activity sent a wave or worried murmuring and craned necks through the cabin. The muzak playing over the PA system had no effect whatsoever.
So while we waited for my identity to be established so the plane could take off, Big Guy and I made small talk.
Me: "What's your middle name?"
Big Guy: "Irwin."
Me: "Ouch! Mine is Henry."
We found out that our birthdays are only 5 days apart. He and Mrs. Big Guy live in Wyoming. They were going to Vegas for a real estate seminar. The conversation slowed to a crawl and I began to feel guilty for holding up the plane's departure. We were lucky that the flight (for once) was not full, so we all kept our exit-row seats.
[Little did I know, then, I was to spend an hour with a reservations agent once we arrived at Las Vegas, trying to get my ticket fixed.]
Soon things were put temporarily right by the Vegas gate agent, I got my ID back and we took off. Seconds later, just before I stretched out my legs and fell asleep, I took this picture of the Two Occupants of Seat 10-F, both named William Thompson.