The New York Times on the current state of airplane seat swapping:
Turf wars over the limited real estate in a plane cabin, from the overhead bins to the armrests, have become more acute in recent years. And with airlines packing planes tighter and charging more for exit rows, for seats further up in the economy cabin or for seat selection at the time of booking, requests — or demands — to swap seats have taken on a new tenor.
I’m probably on 30 or so flights per year, but I don’t ever seem to have this problem. This could be related to the number of flights I take on Southwest (which has open seating), but even when I fly other airlines, I only catch a whiff of it now and then.
That being said, who’s really to blame in this? Airlines have continually attempted to stratify they’re seating; charging more for what are considered premium seats, despite the fact that sometimes the only added benefit is the location on the plane. I tend to agree that you just sit where you’re assigned, but perhaps if airlines moved away from upcharging every single thing they could, people wouldn’t be so touchy on trading one seat for another.