Q. I recently went business-class, for the first time in my life, to New Zealand and back. On the second lap of the long return journey, from LA to London, I returned to my correct seat, one of two near a window, to find a couple in their sixties standing there. They said they had been incorrectly given seats away from each other and seemed to expect me, because I was travelling alone, to change to a seat in the centre. Since that would have had no window, I refused. I said I had never flown business-class before, I liked my seat and was looking forward to seeing the country around Las Vegas. The stewardess said I had a right to refuse and told the couple to sit in their designated seats for take-off, after which she would try to reposition them. The woman sat next to me. I had the impression that she was both wounded and amazed that I had refused to budge. To my dismay, ten minutes into the journey after take-off, an elderly lady with a stick was escorted into one of the centre seats which I had refused and the man beside her was placed next to me so that the couple could then sit together in superior side seats by a window. Mary, as a divorcee, am I alone in having a distaste for the automatic precedence that couples get in this type of situation? This couple were obviously retired; they probably spend all their time together. Was it so awful that they didn’t have adjacent seats for a journey of under ten hours? I would welcome your comments.E.S., London W11
A. Your instinctive reaction was correct. Most readers would have sympathy for a mother and child separated on such a flight but would expect a couple in their sixties to be unbothered, if not actually pleased — especially at the thought that the mini-error might result in ‘compensation’. Indeed, the couple you mention were almost certainly exhibiting Bogus Distress Syndrome, theatrical over-reaction to a mini-problem in the hope of, in this case, milking the airline for a free flight, air miles or future upgrades. In refusing to move, you were doing them a favour.
Q. I have found the perfect remedy for driving off charity muggers when they waylay me. I just firmly say, ‘Not in the street, thank you,’ and walk on. They fall back astonished, while I can continue with a priggish satisfaction from both having seen them off and being polite. I think, perhaps, your readers may also find this Exocet helpful.T.L.P., London NW2
A. Thank you for this useful tip. You cannot blame the charity muggers. The odd thing is that many under-thirties respond well to their street solicitations and happily sign up to have monthly contributions extracted from their bank accounts.
Q. Can you just remind me how to do a DIY temporary necklift?A.W., London NW10
A. Thanks to my American correspondent, B.T., I am currently sampling ready-made neck-lift devices. Until I can recommend a brand, why not use a large-eyed tapestry needle to impregnate the pads of two strips of heavy duty Elastoplast with linking knicker elastic. Position the plasters a few inches apart at the base of the back of the neck and tighten. Tie in a bow. Conceal under big-buckle jewellery or your hair.