Have you ever gotten on a bus, a train, or an airplane and someone else was sitting in your seat? In today’s episode, Andrew and Morag walk you through the vocabulary and phrases you need to handle this awkward situation in a polite and easy manner.
Sign up for our newsletter and get a free transcript for this episode!
Did you know that assigned seating has been used as far back as Ancient Rome? In the Colosseum, everyone attending an event had a seat assigned by tier, wedge (section), and seat number.
Expressions included in the learning materials
- I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure you’re sitting in my seat
- I’ll double-check my boarding pass
- I’m glad we sorted that out
- I’m all settled in here, with my bags in the overhead compartment
- I’d rather just stick to my original seat, if you don’t mind
Andrew: Welcome back to another Real Talk episode. Real Talk is a series where we take a close look at expressions that are very important for everyday life in an English-speaking country.
Morag: And in this episode, we are going to learn how to deal with a particularly awkward situation, which is telling someone who is sitting in your seat that they are in the wrong place.
Andrew: Exactly. Now I’m sure everyone has encountered this. You know, you buy a ticket; it could be a train or bus ticket, or even a ticket for a concert or event. And then you go to your seat, only to find someone else is sitting in your spot.
Morag: Ugh, I hate that feeling. It’s the worst. So today, we’re going to learn how to deal with that situation, what to say and how to say it.
Andrew: That’s right. And so today’s plan is that we will start by listening to a dialogue where someone finds that their seat on an airplane is occupied when it shouldn’t be. And then we’ll take a very close look at the vocabulary and expressions that were used to fix this situation.
OK, here’s the dialogue.
Passenger 1: Excuse me, hi. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure you’re sitting in my seat.
Passenger 2: Um, really? Well, what seat am I in now, 15B? I’m … No, I actually think I’m in the right place.
Passenger 1: Uh, really? Uh, but here’s my ticket. It says 15B.
Passenger 2: OK, OK. Let me … I’ll double-check my boarding pass. Oh, it looks like you were right. I’m actually supposed to be in 51B.
Passenger 1: OK. Well, I’m glad we sorted that out.
Passenger 2: Well, I mean why don’t you just go sit in my seat, the 51B? I’m all settled in here, with my bags in the overhead compartment and everything.
Passenger 1: Hmm, yeah. I’d love to help you out, but I’d rather just stick to my original seat, if you don’t mind.
Passenger 2: Um, yeah. OK, OK.
Andrew: Morag, have you ever had this situation happen to you, where you’re travelling and you go to find your seat, only to discover that somebody’s already sitting in your spot?
Morag: Yes, this has happened to me a couple of times. And one time, I had a similarly resistant person in my seat.
Andrew: Ooh. Ugh, it’s really the worst, isn’t it? I hate that situation. Let’s take just a moment to summarize the dialogue. Two passengers on an airplane are confused about where they are supposed to sit. The male passenger finds that someone is sitting in his seat, so he asks the lady that’s sitting in his seat if she maybe made a mistake and is in the wrong spot.
As it turns out, she did make a mistake and is sitting in the wrong spot. But instead of just quickly apologizing and moving to her original spot, she asks the male passenger to go sit in her seat because she’s already stored her bags. The male passenger is a little uncomfortable with this situation, and in the end, the woman agrees to move to her original seat.
So now, we are going to go back slowly through that dialogue and pick out the most important expressions that you really need to know to handle this situation. At the end of today’s episode, we’ll play the dialogue for you one more time, OK? So you can review it again at the end of this show to confirm your comprehension.
OK, Morag, what is our first key expression for today?
Morag: So our first key expression is a whole sentence, and it is, “Hi. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure you’re sitting in my seat.”
Andrew: Yes, “Hi. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure you’re sitting in my seat.” Now, this is a very friendly and polite way to start that awkward conversation that you need to have when you find someone sitting in your seat.
Morag: Yes. The key here is the, “I’m sorry, but …” Or you could say, “Excuse me but …”
Andrew: Yeah, something that makes it known that you are trying to be polite about the situation, right? You could say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I believe you’re in my seat,” or “It looks like you might be in my seat.”
Andrew: But if you just say, “Hey, you’re in the wrong spot,” it’s going to be too mean.
Morag: Technically, you could go up and say to someone, “Hey, that’s my spot.”
Morag: They would understand what you’re saying, but that is rather rude.
Andrew: Rather rude. So these two words, seat and spot, in your opinion is there any difference in meaning, or can they be used interchangeably?
Morag: I think they can definitely be used interchangeably.
Andrew: Yeah. What about this one? Could you say, “Hi. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure you’re sitting in my chair.”
Morag: Yes, you could say that as well.
For a complete transcript, click:
Audio/Learning Materials: Culips