This happened to The Poet last year.
I board Virgin Blue, bound for Sydney. Window seat, row 20. Open The Age. A man of Middle Eastern dress and appearance comes along. He looks confused… no, it could be agitation… He takes the aisle seat… He stares at his boarding pass, he looks up and down…
My mind flies to the “alert but not alarmed” fridge magnet. I put down The Age, nonchalantly so as not to gain his attention, and observe him closely out of the corner of my eye… He is carrying a book that looks as if it has religious significance.
We are about to lift off high above earth… entrusting our lives to the aircraft and its crew… and I have a man of ME dress and appearance sitting adjacent to me, looking agitated…
Along comes a woman. She stares at her boarding pass and says something to the man of ME dress and appearance. She then looks at me and something starts to dawn.
I look at my boarding pass: 20A. I look across the aisle to the seat numbers: Row 21! I am in the wrong frigging seat! I am in the seat that has been allocated to the man of ME dress and appearance and he has been too frigging polite to tell me! I change seats with abject apology to the man.
I spend the hour of the flight designing a new fridge magnet.