Sadly, this day and age has made us all used to seeing the desperate lengths customers will go to get something for free. At this point, we've even seen miserable jerks for whom free isn't enough. But none of those already unbelievable stories prepared me for this woman's.
In a post she shared on reddit, u/Thoriel recounted the time she flew as an unaccompanied minor and had a stranger pretend to be her father so he could sit in business class with her. It's the kind of story that's so out there, you can't even make it up.
"When I was much, much younger," she begins, "my parents passed away and I was adopted by an aunt living in another state."
Since her sister was much older, she had stayed in the family's home town to finish school. "So every winter, spring, and summer break, I flew alone to see her and back," Thoriel explains.
For readers who aren't aware of the protocols for flying alone as a child, there are a few extra rules, depending on the airline. Most of the time, the minors get priority seating (so they can talk to and get to know the flight attendants ahead of time). Once the rest of the plane has boarded, minors usually get moved to the closest available seat to the front or to the aisle, so that they could remain in flight attendants' line of sight. Occasionally, this means minors get an upgrade, too.
As Thoriel writes, "You can probably see where this is going."
To paint a picture, Thoriel was assigned to a regular window seat. That's where she sat while waiting for the rest of the plane to board, with "CB" sitting next to her, in the middle seat, and a lady she calls "Lady," sitting in the aisle.
"I board along with those in need of assistance, sit in my window seat, and [the flight attendant] comes over to make sure I'm not afraid [and] reminds me of the rules," explains Thoriel. "I give her a thumbs up and don't get comfy, because she said this wasn't a full flight, which means I'm definitely getting moved."
"Enter CB and Lady, who stow their bags and sit without much fanfare," she goes on to say. Once the whole plane has boarded, the flight attendant returns to Thoriel's row and smiles. "'Hey sweetie, grab your things. We're moving you up front,'" the flight attendant tells her. The child responds with an enthusiastic "'Yes ma'am!'" but CB seems disturbed by the young girl's seat reassignment.
"'Up front?'" he asks, "'You mean business class?'" The flight attendant responds in the affirmative, explaining that the flight crew "needs to keep a close eye on her" and that's the best place to do it.
As Thoriel tells it, the flight attendant "winks at me because flight attendants are fantastic. Lady stands up to let us out, and then CB stands... And begins grabbing his bag from the overhead compartment. He's positioned in such a way that I can't get out until he's done."
"'Sir?'" asks the confused flight attendant. Our young narrator innocently says she doesn't have a bag in the overhead compartment, but thanks the guy for his effort anyway.
"'I'm grabbing my bag," claps back CB. "I don't care about yours."
"He swings his bag over his shoulder and steps forward to let me out of our row," writes Thoriel, "except now he's between me and [the flight attendant], with Lady standing behind me." He stares at the flight attendant, who finally "catches on."
"'Sir,'" she says, "'I'm sorry if there was some confusion, but only the little girl is being moved up front.'"
This is when CB goes from your average tacky beggar to a borderline creepy jerk. "'Why would you move my daughter away from me?'" he demands. "'What kind of airline is this?!'"
The flight attendant's "look of frazzled confusion" matched naive Thoriel's, who at this point, has zero idea what's going on.
"'Is this man here your father?'" the flight attendant asks our narrator, perplexed. "'No?'" she responds. "'I don't have one of those.'"
CB jumps in really aggressively now. "'Don't lie!'" he berates. "'You're going to be grounded longer for lying!'" Then he turns to the flight attendant and tries to talk his way around his lie, saying the girl is "just angry" because he "grounded her from her Game Boy." "'Now hurry up and show us our seats,'" he commands.
It's worth mentioning that, by now, our narrator is crying from confusion. She's too young to know to throw a fit and the past few times she's traveled alone, everything has always gone swimmingly. She's afraid her Game Boy is being taken away from her, afraid she's being grounded by a man she's never seen before, and is clutching at her Game Boy "like a teddy bear."
Our hearts break for such a young child to be so terrified by this threatening stranger.
The flight attendant decides to test this man, and asks him what the child's name is, if he is indeed so intimately acquainted. The flight attendant "had learned my name during our talk earlier," Thoriel explains. CB is struggling and sweating, "glaring from her to me and back again, as if one of us is going to tell him."
Then, he decides to take his chances. "'Bridgette, of course,'" he tells the flight attendant.
"'I'm sorry, but that's not her name,'" the flight attendant calmly responds. "'I'm going to have to ask you to store your bag and sit back down, sir.'"
As you might expect, CB loses it. "'That's not fair!'" he shouts. "'Why are you moving a kid to business class when I'm the one with back issues?!'"
It's hard to comprehend the logic in CB's mind. If he is indeed hurting from his back issues, why not throw the extra money at the business class seat from the get-go? The flight attendant tells him as much, and he responds with outrage.
"'I'm never flying with you again unless I get to sit with my daughter!'" he tosses out as an ultimatum. The lengths he went to protect his lie — even after revealing that he has no idea what his supposed child's first name is — is truly baffling.
"'Sir, please sit down,'" the flight attendant has to say, probably more than beside herself. "'She is not your daughter.'"
Mind you, dear reader, no one has moved during this exchange, so Lady is still behind our narrator. She "has one of her hands resting on my shoulder for comfort," as Thoriel tells it, "and is holding me close to her legs, kind of like a hug, and the look on [the flight attendant]'s face says, 'One more word from anyone and I will escalate this situation.'"
CB concedes to putting his bag back in the overhead compartment and sitting back down, upgrading himself to the window seat where Thoriel was previously seated. If that's what it takes to make you happy, man, whatever.
But that's not all! Because of course it's not. You didn't think this kind of entitled jerk would stop there, did you?
"'I hope you don't think I won't be getting free drinks out of this'," he says to the flight attendant. Readers will note CB's use of double negatives as a super gaslight-y, super manipulative part of his tactics. "'It's the least you could do,'" he even has the gall to say.
Props to this flight attendant, who wasn't in the mood to take anyone's crap, much less creepy, threatening and low-key terrifying CB's. "'Don't worry, sir,'" she tells him. "I don't think that."
Then, she reveals she does in fact have another seat up in the coveted business class. But it's not going to CB. Instead, she turns to Thoriel and Lady and offers them "two available seats," "if you both don't mind coming with me."
We struggle to imagine how dumbfounded CB was by this whole situation. According to Thoriel, "Lady is behind me and [since] I'm a sobbing mess, I don't know what expression she had, but she grabs her bag and follows. I didn't look at CB either, but he was sputtering so I think we can all imagine that. Lady also got a free drink later on in the flight so [the flight attendant] was full-on in petty revenge mode and it was awesome."
The rest of the flight went swimmingly, per her recollection. She and Lady "played hangman and did crosswords together" the whole flight. Once they landed, the crew took extra precautions to make sure she wouldn't have to be in the same place as the creepy, older CB who had claimed to be her father.
"A security officer walked with me to the bagging area to meet with my sister and waited with us until we were leaving," she writes. "Never saw him again, thankfully."