Should airlines charge more for a seat assignment?

Camelia/Shutterstock

Sometimes, when a traveler asks for help, your best response is to listen.

That’s what I did when I heard from Nicholas Gilbert, who just wanted to sit next to his wife on an upcoming American Airlines flight.

He’d booked two tickets to Europe via American and connecting to Lufthansa and Swiss. The itineraries were not connected. He says he chose AA.com because on his last flight, he’d booked through Travelocity, and couldn’t get pre-assigned seats. An American Airlines supervisor blamed the online agency for blocking his seats, he says.

So Gilbert — who says he is a frequent flier on American — obediently booked through AA.com.

And guess what? He couldn’t reserve a seat next to his wife.

“I called Lufthansa and Swiss the same day I called AA for other flights to get a seat, and they had no problem assigning me one,” he says.

What’s the problem? American wanted him to pay more for a pre-assigned seat. That’s a hot topic in Washington, with the latest Transportation Department rulemaking suggesting airlines should disclose these fees at the time they’re displayed.

A brief, polite email to the airline resulted in the following form response:

Thank you for contacting us. We are sorry you became concerned when you were not able to obtain free prereserved seat for your upcoming trip.

At the time of your request, all remaining seats were either reserved for other customers, “blocked” to allow our airport personnel to handle unexpected seating issues that may arise on the day of departure, or are part of our Preferred Seats or Main Cabin Extra travel options.

With the Preferred Seats product, customers have the option to purchase seat assignments in the first few rows of coach, as well as bulkhead and other desirable seating.

With Main Cabin Extra, customers can purchase a seat in the front of the Main Cabin with up to six inches of additional legroom to stretch out and relax.

The availability of specific seats may change daily, even hourly as other customers alter their travel plans.

If your free seating choice doesn’t become available prior to your trip, and you elect not to purchase a Preferred or Main Cabin Extra seat, you will receive an automatically-assigned seat at no charge at check-in as early as 24 hours before departure.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you aboard.

Thank you for choosing American.

You’ve gotta love that form letter. Makes it sound like you’re asking for the world when you want a reserved seat — something that came standard with every legacy airline reservation, until it didn’t.

Gilbert is frustrated.

“Their seat policy seems so ridiculous and confusing even their own supervisors don’t understand it, as I’ve been given a few different stories now,” he says. “I’m asking to sit next to my wife, I’m not a family of six. It’s only two seats — and one of them is a middle seat.”

American was basically challenging Gilbert to a game of “chicken.” The airline apparently wanted him to pay for a middle seat; but, if he waited long enough, it would have to give him a seat.

Who would blink first?

This isn’t a civil way to fly. If you’re traveling with someone — especially young children — you shouldn’t be forced to spend more money to be near your family. This is extortion, pure and simple — at least it is from my perspective.

My strategy was to wait. As the date of Gilbert’s flight drew closer, and it became clear that he wouldn’t pay the ransom, the airline would have to eventually offer him a seat.

Sure enough, shortly before the flight, I received the following message from Gilbert:

It appears their system automatically assigned my wife and I seats in row 8 (of 18, and 1-5 seem to be first class/premium seats) once it hit 24 hours before the flight.

Funny how the supervisor held firm and refused to assign a seat ahead of time (without charging over 100 percent the cost of the tickets) despite the large number of open seats.

Heaven forbid they give away two seats together in the back of the plane and have a group of 50 all buy premium tickets at the last minute and have one less aisle seat to choose from.

They see seat selection as a cash cow for themselves, although I’m not sure how that’s going to work in the long run when I’m booking my next flight and come across two airlines with similar fares and select the other one due to their seating policy.

If someone books through your site, is a loyal flier with you, follows the instructions you told them to be able to select a seat (which were untrue), books through your loyalty program, well in advance, calls and speaks with a supervisor, isn’t it just easier for everyone to give two seats together?

I think Gilbert just answered his own question. I’m happy he won this round of “chicken.”

How many other travelers will have to play the same game before it ends?

Should airlines charge more for a seat assignment?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That doesn’t appear to be what happened. AA does *not* charge for a seat assignment. What is does though is have different classes of seat within coach. I would surmise that Mr. Gilbert’s wife had a regular coach seat and the adjacent seat was a more premium seat for which AA charges more. Mr. Gilbert did not wish to pay more for a premium seat and accordingly, he has to wait until the premium seats were released.

    Honestly, I can’t say that I mind. I suspect that I will be in the minority on this. I would happily pay additional money for an exit row seat. The additional legroom made flights much more tolerable. It seems to make sense to have the seat go to someone who values it and will pay extra for it, then to someone who doesn’t.

  • PsyGuy

    I hate siding with the airline on this but from their perspective you bought a seat, if you want to specify which one you have to pay more. What if there is a group of 50 people who allw ant to sit together because its a school trip or something and your two husband and wife seats just happen to be in the middle of this group. Okay I’m reaching, but this is the new reality, US legacy carriers and an increasing number of national carriers (don’t let me tell you how much I hate Air Canada), are charging for pre assigned seat assignment. Its just the way it is and the system generates revenue (works) because people want specific requests and services. If they created an exception for traveling couples, and families and everyone else except for white, single, business travelers then the system would be useless and generate no revenue. I get it “you want to sit next to your wife in advance”, the airlines solution is simple, pay us more money. You want something with a price tag for free.

  • sirwired

    Chris, the upcoming FAA rules would not have applied to this case; those fees refer to shops like Spirit that charge a fee for any sort of advance seat assignment. AA does not, and never has, charged for an “ordinary” seat assignment. What they do charge for is seats in premium locations; namely those in exit rows and those near the front of the plane. Now, sometimes those are the only adjacent seats left that haven’t been assigned. (And sometimes those are the only unbooked seats on the plane at all.) And yes, in that case, you need to pay up if you want one of those seats “guaranteed.”

    The system the airlines have chosen seems to have worked out okay so far; if you are two adults, you need to grow up and realize you can’t have a guarantee for a “premium” product for free and you may even end up sitting separately.

    If you have a young child, they’ll take care of you at check-in, or if that doesn’t work, at the boarding gate or on the plane.

    And this is hardly unique to AA… is there a single domestic airline left that does not have a premium seating arrangement of some sort? (On assignment-less SW, you pay the “Early Bird” fee or “A-list” fee instead.)

    As a side note, not having an advance seat assignment doesn’t change the likelihood you are going to get bumped. Even if you select a seat ahead of time, if the airline decides they are going to bump you, you still aren’t boarding that plane, seat assignment or no. And you may very well be giving your seat up to somebody with a “Seat Assignmed at Gate” boarding pass.

  • I strongly disagree based on my own experience. It isn’t a matter of “sometimes” that AA doesn’t have seats available, but many times. I was flying solo and I couldn’t even reserve a middle seat. AA had blocked out so many seats for airport check in that none were available to reserve on line. Not.A.One. I had to get to the airport 3 hours early to make sure I got a seat (annoying, as I had a single bag that fit under my seat, so normally I would arrive 1-1/2 hours ahead of time). Even checking in 3 hours early I only got a middle seat. They still tried to get me to buy an aisle or window seat. And then there was denied boarding. I counted around 10 seats that were oversold. This was on a Friday morning in July – the peak of tourist season. So yes, our flight was delayed because they spent so much time pleading with people to give up their seats. No one was playing and they ended up with denied boarding for several people.
    Look. You sell me a seat I expect a seat. I shouldn’t have to go through so much work just to get a middle seat at the back of the plane.

  • sirwired

    As I already said, not having an advance seat assignment (or having one) does NOT make it any more or less likely you won’t get bumped. You didn’t have to “get to the airport 3 hours early to make sure [you] got a seat”. Those with advance seat assignments are not any less likely to be bumped than an equivalent passenger that has a “Seat Assigned at Gate” boarding pass. Bumping priority is based mainly on how much you paid for your seat and flying history with the airline.

    You didn’t have to do any extra work at all; you could have accepted a boarding pass without a seat assignment, and showed up at the airport at your regular time.

    It’s not any more work for the airline to bump a passenger with a seating assignment vs. without one.

  • jim6555

    The plight of Mr/Mrs Gilbert and the inflexibility of AA reminds me of something that happened about 10 years ago when I was working as a travel agent. A single mom named Jill with 3 year old twins had booked round trip itineraries through me on AA from Tampa to Reno with an aircraft change at DFW in both directions. At the time, AA had a policy that all aisle seats were premium and were reserved until the day of departure for passengers with frequent flyer status. You could not buy “premium” seats. You had to have status or were shut out. I called the AA travel agent desk and was told what I was asking for was impossible. If the passenger didn’t have FF status, nothing could be done – end of discussion. I went up through two levels of supervisors and got nowhere. When I explained this to the mom, she became frantic. She didn’t want one of her 3 year olds seated alone in another row with strangers. Who can blame her. I calmed her down and advised that she get to the gate for the first segment an hour earlier than usual. My hope was that a sympathetic gate agent would see the twins and realize that they could not travel without mom being adjacent to them. My plan worked. The agent at TPA was able to secure three-across seating for all four segments. Despite the kindness of the gate agent, I know for a fact that this customer has not flown on AA since and probably never will.

  • I can’t get a boarding pass without a seat assignment. If I have a seat assignment I can print my boarding pass ahead of time. Without a seat assignment I may be denied a boarding pass, pretty much garunteeing I’ll be bumped.

  • TonyA_says

    Much ado about nothing.

  • John Baker

    First of all the previous trip is a red herring. If he had looked to see if his flight had seats available before hitting buy (Yes, the AA site does allow you to do this during your search) he may have found a flight with free seats. Instead, he didn’t look before hitting buy. What if there were only middles left? Would he expect AA to move someone?

    I have no issue with airlines charging more for seats that some deem to be in better locations (Exit Row / Front of Cabin) or have added benefits (DL Economy Comfort or UA Economy Plus) especially when they allow you to look at available seats (and if there’s a charge for them) before you make your purchase. Let face it… Most people flying alone dread the middle seat and some are willing to pay a premium to avoid it.

    It sounds like the AA system worked exactly as it’s supposed to

  • sirwired

    The last time I encountered a flight without any assignable seats, I was able to print a boarding pass just fine.

  • TonyA_says

    A guide to understanding AA’s seating

    American Airlines (AA) offers advance seating reservations (pre-assigned seating) for a number of seats (not all) on its own flights. Many seats are blocked for a variety of reasons.
    AA also sells seats with more space called Main Cabin Extra. Real high level elites and those who paid full-fare can get these Main Cabin Extra seats for free (complimentary). The rest of the passengers can purchase Main Cabin Extra seating (other elites can do so with a discount).

    American also blocks many or most aisle and some window standard legroom seats and allocate them as preferred seating. Elites and those who paid full-fare can get preferred seats pre-assigned for free. Others have to pay for it.

    No airline fare guarantees your actual seating placement. When you buy a ticket, only SPACE on the flight is confirmed. That said, airlines like AA allows you to request advance seating reservation.

    The best way to demonstrate this is showing an example for a JFK to LON flight 3 days from now (AA100 on 5JUN).
    If I buy 2 tickets right now, I can still get pre-assigned (free) seats side-by-side but it will be either in 26 E,G or 42 E,G. However, Seats E and G are middle seats. If I don’t like them, then I have an option.
    (1) Reserve 22B (middle seat) and pay for preferred seating 23C (aisle).
    (2) Do nothing and go early to the airport.
    (3) Try to get seating assignment during online check in (OLCI)

    For #2 and #3, i will try my luck since I see a number of adjoining seats are blocked (S or B coded) and not yet reserved (R). Since I know airlines block seats for airport control (at check in) then I might as well see if they can give me 2 seats side by side at the airport.

    Unlike the OP/LW, i wouldn’t bitch and moan to an advocate. I will use my knowledge to get what I want.

  • Common sense

    What is it with people wanting to assign seats in advance anyway?

  • My spouse and I had the seating issues with Delta returning from our wedding in IA via Atlanta before returning to Budapest. When we checked in, we were told one set of seats were blocked and could only be unblocked by the gate agent.

    When we reached the gate, there were a dozen of angry people ahead of us. When it was our turn, the gate agent said “I will work on it” and then proceeded to assist those behind us. We never did get seats assigned together, but were able to get friendly people willing to move so we could sit together.

    As it turned out, former president Jimmy Carter was on our flight. He walked up and down the entire aisle on both sides shaking hands with people. It was a thrill that evaporated the stress of Delta.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    You can see the seats are blocked with S & B codes, not R. Can the average person do that? That’s the problem I’ve run into. Thanks.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    A sense of security, mostly. I noticed that on Southwest and Hawaiian regional carrier flights, people wasted time going up and down the aisles, looking for that “better” seat or a seat with an empty overhead bin nearby. With pre-assigned seating, you walk directly (eventually) to your seat and theoretically there’s space for your stuff in that area.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Not disagreeing with you on your side note, but looking for assurance: I’ve always been “told” that having a seat assignment makes you less likely to be bumped or denied boarding. So, how then how does the airline decide to bump a passenger?

  • AirlineEmployee

    Never going to happen but ALL of the flying public just need NOT choose to pay in advance for seating – gee, then the airlines would have to assign at the gates with no charge. First come, first serve.

  • TonyA_says

    Cathay Pacific does not send correct or uptodate seat maps anymore to my GDS so I have to use their online seat maps just like any passenger. So even without me seeing whether a seat is blocked or really taken, I still know that they like all airlines will keep a substantial number of seats blocked for airport control. Some of these blocked seats are released during OLCI so I wait for them.

    Someone will eventually get stuck with a middle seat. If that someone is traveling alone then sorry. Passengers trying to seat together just have to work harder or plan sooner. Otherwise, pay up :-)

  • LongTimeFed

    Unless those “different classes of seat within coach” have different leg room and wider seats, this is plain greedy.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I generally end up sitting in the middle seat, next to my husband in the aisle seat. That way I can lean into his space. :)

    I get irritated when I pay extra for my husband to have an aisle seat and then I have to pay extra to sit next to him in a middle seat (in regular coach seating). In that situation, I don’t pay extra and take my chances. We’ve been married long enough that he doesn’t mind when I end up having to share space on a plane with folks I don’t know.

    Now, if it’s an Economy Comfort/Plus/Extra set of seats, yes, I’ll pay extra for me as well. The ability to cross my legs on a flight and do gentle stretches is worth it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Anecdotally by price paid, loyalty status, etc.

  • LongTimeFed

    That’s crap. No blocked seats.

  • Annie M

    I voted no, however, if a flight is booked early enough,passengers will be able to get seat assignments at no charge. When you book last minute, this is what can happen. I’ve had it happen and we waited until we got to the airport and were able to ge seat assignments next to each other. And if we couldn’t, I can manage quite well not sitting next to my husband for a few hours on a plane.

  • LongTimeFed

    If I have an aisle seat, I’m not going to trade for a middle seat. This is a crappy system.

  • omgstfualready

    I generally research my plane and decide where I’d like to sit and get that seat assignment (though I’ve not paid for it). Frequently I’m asked to move and I decline. Yet I am suddenly the bad guy (or girl) because people that ‘need’ to sit together won’t take responsibility for that need but rely upon others to meet their needs.

    Though I do wonder if I weren’t a female traveling alone if I’d be asked quite so often. Now I work hard to remember to “puffer fish” out in my limited space so it isn’t as inviting to ask me anything.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Exactly, and some people don’t’ care about the middle seat and would rather pay less. This is a freshman economics efficiency allocation issue.

  • TonyA_says

    Extreme uncomfortable seating is a big issue to me and I believe all passengers. If the airlines fix that problem, i would not worry about seat placement. I’ve sat beside other women with my wife seating in another row. It was refreshing :-) Once I met an NYC doctor and her daughter traveling back from Luang Prabang. Learned so much from her.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    “Anecdotally” doesn’t give me a good sense of security. If I pay $X for a flight and don’t have a seat assignment and John Doe pays the same amount for the flight BUT does have a seat assignment (having purchased it in the seconds before the seat assignments got locked down), which of us is more likely to be bumped?

    Really, not trying to be a PITA and get hooked on semantics (another regular poster comes to mind), but just trying to get a feel for whether I’m going to get bumped the next time I play chicken. Thanks.

  • omgstfualready

    SeatGuru shows seats that may not be ideal that you’d not realize otherwise. I don’t mind a misaligned window seat but others do. I have other preferences that others may not. So it can be of use to know ahead of time and know you aren’t ‘stuck’. Though preassigned seats makes boarding a nightmare, Southwest is much faster with the ‘get on, sit down already’ approach (though I still look ahead of time to see where I don’t want to choose to sit).

  • Buckettripper

    For what it’s worth, I now try to look at seat assignment policy when choosing an airline. Delta is at the bottom of my list, owing to its having an even worse policy (you can’t even get an assignment on some flights until you get to the airport — essentially, you are flying ‘standby’). One fellow traveler was bumped off their first flight on Delta, even though they had a “confirmed” flight because no seats were available (and they make you wait till 15 minutes before the flight departure to assign your seat). They missed their international connection! Of course, given that the airlines try to not actually disclose this ugly fact, it’s not always possible to avoid it, but Delta is one of the worst offenders.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Agree with the first part of the statement, although my personal experience on WN was the opposite: people walked down the aisle, back up the aisle, trying to decide if the middle seat closer to the front of the plane was better than the window seat next to the plus-sized man, etc.

  • Zod

    Yes. The airlines WILL make money on this cash-grab ploy. But in the long run, it will breed dissension and anger and will drive passengers from this airlines who play these games! I know that I would now consider another airline just based off of this one story!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    But that the rub. Many people, myself included are happy to pay a small premium to sit where I want.. I hate window seats and I despise middle ones. I’m very happy to pay more money to “guarantee” that I’ll have a better flight experience

  • omgstfualready

    Ugh, I do my research in advance – I’d NEVER do that. But then again I don’t treat the plane like it’s my living room (sweatpants, no shoes). I’ve not experienced what you have and I hope I don’t, that’s messed up.

  • TonyA_says

    In the long run there will be LESS airlines since many will have merged (consolidation of industry).
    Unless there is a huge incentive for a start up to give you better service then we are all stuck in this game for a while.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    As a solo traveler, I can only shake my head. If you want to sit together, you might have to pay extra. If you don’t want to pay extra, then you can take your chances.
    This is what usually happens to me on an international flight: someone will come up to me (I have paid the extra money for my seat) and they tell me they want to sit next to their wife, girlfriend, etc. When I ask them what seat they have, I am usually given a seat number that I know is an exceedingly crummy seat.
    So as a solo traveler, am I viewed a “chopped liver” because I am traveling by myself? Would you ask a couple to move? As a solo traveler is my comfort less important than yours?
    And what will happen if you don’t sit next to your wife for 7 hours? Divorce? Therapy for the kids? The world will end? Write to Chris to intervene?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Respectfully no. That may be what is important to you. But different people place different values on different items. Location clearly in one of them. For example, most people consider a middle seat to be less valuable than an aisle or window. Thus it makes sense that they would be priced differently.

    Additionally, some airlines like American permit elite level loyalty members to choose any seat in coach without additional payment. It’s a highly valued part of the loyalty programs.

    Location location location applies not just in real estate. Think of it this way. two otherwise identical house in different parts of the same city will not be priced the same. Same with the airline seats.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    …all the above.

    What gets me is when someone just takes my seat and assumes that I’ll be willing to switch. I used to be more accommodating, but now I think that’s rude and generally won’t. I used to board last but after that happening a few times I learned to board at my assigned time.

  • TonyA_says

    Some people believe that ALL seats in coach should cost the same and be equal. But the fact is that NOT all seats in coach are equal. Many people value aisle and window seats higher than middle seats. Many people value bulkhead or emergency row seats more than others. Many people want the option to seat together, some don’t. I see no problem for the seller to monetize a valuable scare resource. I believe Elliott would do the same thing. He was limited real estate in his blog. Do you mean he will give away space for free for banners or ads to just anyone? Wouldn’t he attempt to maximize some revenue, too?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This male gets asked often to change as well.

  • TonyA_says

    Go to sleep and ignore them. Never make eye contact. Pass gas if you have to.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Alas, not as long as passengers purchase purely on price.

  • TonyA_says

    Those who purchase only based on price can expect nothing more.

  • John Baker

    I guess you feel the same way about a hotel that charges for views…

    I disagree with you… Its basic economics.

  • Vec14

    I’m split on this issue – I am one of those people who likes an aisle seat, especially on longer flight so I can get up an move around (had a dvt a few years ago) and if I have a connection I prefer a seat towards the front of the plane – and I’m generally willing to pay for it – I can see an aisle seat near the front as a premium seat. However, it really irritates me when I see the seat map for a flight and at least 2/3rds of the seats have extra fees associated with them – or it’s an RJ which is just crazy, given their size. Charging extra for exit row, economy plus, etc is ok since there is a difference.

    I am also one of those people who will change seats, but only like for like (with one or 2 rare exceptions) – I pick my seats for a particular reason.

  • They are stating in their letter: With Main Cabin Extra, customers can purchase a seat in the front of the Main Cabin with up to six inches of additional legroom to stretch out and relax.
    So anyone not willing to upgrade to Main Cabin Extra is not entitled to stretch and relax and is in essence puniched? And how about when it comes to someone taller than average or with a chronic knee condition like myself where if I dont stretch my knee I am in excruciating pain? Isnt that discrimination?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    ROTFLMAO

  • omgstfualready

    Thanks for that, I guess we look like we care? lol.

  • omgstfualready

    Then why not play the mental game of ‘free’ and discount the middle seat rather than up charge the other seats? I don’t have a problem with calling it a premium and up charging it, but if consumers are going to have outrage, then all business needs to do is play the semantic game…..

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Of course not. They are willing to sell you the same seat for the same price that they are selling it to everyone else. If you have special needs you should purchase a seat that accommodates those needs, unless its a legal disability.

  • omgstfualready

    So that was YOU? ;-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Because then you’d have to advertise the higher seat price which would hurt your placement in the searches.

    Its better business for the airline to advertise $100 seats with additional charges, than $125 and discounted may apply. The first will place much higher on the search listings

  • $16635417

    I prefer an aisle and may be inclined to pay a little extra for it. Therefore, to some, the aisle holds value over a middle. The airline recognized this and I now rarely have problems getting a seat I like because of it.

    If given the option, are you are just as happy in a middle seat as an aisle? If so, the fact that I may pay extra for an aisle should not be an issue for you.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    One time I pretended not to speak or understand English.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Actually, yes. People will often make requests of the person that they think will be most accommodating. I remember a gate agent had an unreasonable request of a passenger, so she walked up and down the aisle until she found the smallest, Asian male all the way in the back of the plane and tried to bully him. Imagine her surprise when he politely told her to go *** herself.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    ditto

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The problem is that who gets bumped is confidential information. Many people, especially on Flyertalk.com believe that they have cracked the system for the various airlines. Perhaps they have, perhaps they haven’t. But, and perhaps on the the TAs can comment further, the airline is on the hook for involuntary denied boarding compensation either way and will try not to bump you.

  • SoBeSparky

    When you go to the theater and sit in the second balcony, do you expect to pay the same as center orchestra? Or better yet, should the end zone tickets cost the same as 50-yard line? People pay for seats based on location, but this “frequent flyer” with the loyalty program does not want to.

    Well, as for loyalty, anyone who flies an actual 25,000 miles a year (not much, five coast-to-coast round trips or two r/t’s to Asia) gets those preferred seats for free. The MCE seats are free to 50,000-mile frequent flyers.

    If you want the perks, you have to play the game. If you don’t like the game, then fly any old airline. Your choice. The rules were no secret, well known for at least a year before this flight.

  • TonyA_says

    The reason is the fare and fee system does NOT allow that.
    Charging for seats assignments is an OPTIONAL SERVICE FEE in the whole scheme of things.

  • TonyA_says

    No that was Truffles that caused the emergency landing :)

  • Mel65

    Yes. This! This has happened to me twice in the last couple of months and I was given the evil eye and muttered about because I said, “Uh no, I don’t want THAT seat, I paid for THIS seat.” In one instance, a woman had sat in the wrong window seat and rather than correct her so they could sit in their assigned seats, a couple sat in the middle and MY aisle seat and said “we didn’t want to make her move, we figured you’d be nice and just take her window seat.” Nope. I’m moderately claustrophobic. I pay for aisle seats if at all possible. But they got p*ssy with me for not playing along with letting the old lady think she was in the right seat… Seriously. Then ONE OF YOU TWO MOVE and take her seat instead of assuming I would. Jiminy Crickets.

  • emanon256

    I agree with you, here is my analogy on the topic. It’s like a play/musical/concert/show. I was trying to buy tickets to a musical and the balcony ($35) and Mezzanine ($50) were sold out of two seats together. All that was left where my wife and I could sit together was Orchestra for $90. I didn’t want to pay more for a better seat, but there were no cheaper seats left. At least airlines give out the extra leg room seats for free at check-in or at the gate if that’s all that is left, and hold back seats specifically so people can sit together. With my musical I had no choice but to pay extra to sit together or not go at all. Why do people think its okay for the musical, but get all bent out of shape when an airline does the same thing? In the end, the airline is even more generous. You can pay for the cheap seats and get economy comfort seats together for no additional price if there are still seats available at check-in. And the airlines all show actual seat availability maps in advance of your purchase, so you can tell before booking if there are still free seats together and can book accordingly. I think CE’s last article on the topic said that well over 60% of economy seats do not charge extra for seat assignments.

  • Vec14

    As a petite female, I’ve gotten that question a few times…

  • emanon256

    When I have a connection, I pay extra to sit by the door so I can get out quickly. Ive been stuck on planes for well over 20 minutes when in the back as people fumble with their luggage and randomly start repacking in the aisle as we are deplaning.

  • emanon256

    I have booked many last minuet flights on many airlines where all seats were taken and was always able to print a boarding pass, they all said something like, “Seat assigned at gate”. And seevral times they have bumped people on those flights because they were oversold and I got on.

  • TonyA_says

    You know maybe Elliott can sell some DO NOT DISTURB signs.
    I’m sure that will be a hit.

  • TonyA_says

    I am still trying to figure out what is the consumer advocacy issue here.
    Should spouses be given priority seating for free ahead of single people?
    Should elites and non-elites get the same benefits?
    If you figure it out, please tell me.

  • emanon256

    United used to (My friend told me before the mergers, so I don’t know what they do now), ask for volunteers first and keep a list. The volunteers got prioritized by frequent flyer status, then fare paid, and in the event of a tie by check-in time. If there are no volunteers, its sorted by frequent flyer status (no status first, then general member, then lowest status, etc). and fare class within status (Cheapest first), and then check-in time (Most recent first). The computer sorts them automatically this way. He said they are not supposed to take into account seat assignment, but that some times a gate agent will get lazy and bump someone with no seat assignment over someone with a seat assignment even though the person with a seat assignment was first on the list, but they aren’t supposed to do that. Its just less work for them that to off-load a passenger, are assign their seat to another passenger, etc. So your concern is valid.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Meh. Rampant egalitarianism. Everyone should pay the same and get the same.

  • emanon256

    I was on an ERJ45 where the seating is A, aisle, BC. So X_XX. I was in C, and a husband and wife were in A and B across the aisle from each other. The husband being in A. The wife said she thought A and B were together and C was the single seat and that she wanted to sit together. I offered to trade my seat for the husbands and he said he didn’t want the window. The wife then said she would take the window, and I could take the husbands, and he could still have the aisle. He then said he didn’t feel like moving. The wife looked very upset and the two didn’t talk the entire flight.

  • TonyA_says

    Excellent point. We watched The Book of Mormon and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder last week. The tickets were around $200 each or about the same price one would pay for a typical domestic flight. The seats were more sardinized compare to any airline seat and the theater allowed late comers to squeeze by several times. Didn’t hear anyone bitch and moan about the shows despite its very tight seating conditions. In fact, they all gave a standing ovation :-)

  • emanon256

    The Denver performing arts complex has quite a few theaters, and in some my knees hit the back of the seat in front of me, and in others they don’t. When my knees don’t I always refer to that theater as having Economy Plus. We were lucky I called the second Book of Mormon went on sale and got the $35 Balcony tickets, and it was in the theater with economy plus. We were in another theater once for a 1.5 hour show with no intermission, and tight seats and no leg room. They did let people come and go through out, it was too much like an airplane. Fortunately I liked the show. My new idea, in flight plays. We can work turbulence into the act :)

  • TonyA_says

    You’re too nice :-)
    My initial reaction was – what the heck is wrong with these people?
    Do they even care about how YOU feel?
    Why is always THEM first?

  • Hanope

    But you also can’t buy theater tickets or football game tickets as “general admission” where you don’t get any assigned seat. The seat location is built into the price of the ticket. Why can’t airlines do the same? As it is now, you buy the ticket, then pay extra if you want to get one of their ‘special seats’. What if I don’t want a ‘special seat’, I’ll be fine with two seats or four seats in the back of the airplane, I’d just like to know ahead of time that they will be together.

  • SoBeSparky

    You can sit together, if you choose to book far enough in advance. It’s first-come, first-served for those seats.

    Yes, the analogy falls apart to some degree. But there are many events where there still are “general admission” tickets, hence the term. Usually means first-come, first-served like the American Airlines policy on the seats without additional charge.

  • bodega3

    Charge ‘more’ for a seat assignment? An airline ticket never has guaranteed a seat assignment. I suggest: Should airlines charge additional for a seat assignment?

  • Hanope

    Actually, its more like the theater changes $35 for the first balcony seat and if you then want to buy a second seat next to it, it charges you $70, but if you want to buy a second balcony seat at some random balcony locale, then its only another $35.

  • bodega3

    While booking early lets you usually chose a seat, that seat is not guaranteed. Schedule changes or aircraft changes are big culprits at you losing that advance seat assignment.

  • emanon256

    Well, in that case A is the ultimate seat, it’s and Aisle and and Window. The best of both worlds. So I would have benefited from the trade. And the Husband seemed to know that he was in the ultimate seat. I booked late, so only C seats were left.

  • bodega3

    Many of us do, but we have to be aware of the fact that those seats are not guaranteed. It is advisable to keep an eye on your reservation, checking every few days to make sure your seat assignment hasn’t changed.

  • bodega3

    You. Something that Chris NEVER mentions in his rant on frequent flyer programs, is that being a member gives you a step up over those who are not frequent flyers in regards to last minute seat assignments at the airport. But keep in mind, that the airline’s hold back many seats and release them 24 to 48 hours, so you need to watch and grab a seat if the get released for assignment. UA to Hawaii holds back a good share of their seats…which annoys the heck out of me, but I have never had a client not get on the plane!

  • bodega3

    But the issue for me is that you are willing to pay, so others suffer? Same with the baggage charges. Sigh….give us back the good old days of seats and luggage all part of the airline ticket price!

  • SoBeSparky

    True, but that screws up all seating, including those who paid for seats. This is an inherent risk to all, not just those who did not pay extra. Best advice is to check your important long-range reservations often for schedule and equipment changes. Sometimes you are not notified, or it falls through the cracks of email spam, etc.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    How are others suffering? Someone has to sit in the back of the plane, someone has to sit in the middle seat, and a husband and wife not sitting together is not suffering. Families with small kids are accommodated.

  • $16635417

    Who’s suffering? The point is that some people see no value in an aisle over a middle. Why are they suffering in a middle then?

    I DO see a value and sometimes I pay for the aisle. (Sometimes I don’t and accept a middle.)

  • bodega3

    Yes, even paid seating gets screwed up.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Now *I’m* ROTFLMAO!

  • DavidYoung2

    The disconnect for the airlines is that in their push to ‘maximize revenue’ by ‘unbundling’ they’re making Southwest more competitive. One of my pet peeves about Southwest is that you can’t get pre-assigned seats. When traveling with an 8-year old, that’s potentially a problem.

    But as the larger airlines downgrade their product, they’re becoming more like Southwest but without the upside (changeable tickets, bags included in the cost, etc.)

    My preferred airline WAS Delta, but due to service downgrades I’m now flying Southwest. And I try to book through Las Vegas so we can use the Centurion Lounge there since Delta took away my companions’ access to the Sky Club.

  • Daddydo

    If the airlines did this correctly, there is no way in hell that they will, The super saver tickets would never have a pre-assignment. The more you pay, the more that you deserve a seat assignment. the less you pay, children or not, the more that you deserve a seat assignment at check-in.
    I have to travel tomorrow at full price 5 x’s what the supersaver paid, and can not get anything but an aisle?

  • bodega3

    The suffering is the fee that is now being charged for a seat that use to be available for no fee. None of these fees use to be in place and I wish they weren’t now!

  • SKM

    I think it is fine if an airline wants to charge for premium seats, but I have been through this business before twice recently and it is crazy. Recently a family member passed away and his memorial service was scheduled for two weeks later. We booked flights through Expedia on American Airlines but we couldn’t get seats assigned until after purchase. When we went to get seats, there were no non-premium seats left and when I called in to AA the representative told me that our only options were to either buy premium seats or to get to the airport an additional 90 minutes early to get seats assigned at the counter. It should be disclosed to us before purchase that the only seats left are premium seats. What irks me is that if we are able to buy tickets for a flight we should not be basically forced to buy premium seats, especially if the airline is most likely going to have to give us the premium seats anyway because all the non-premium seats are gone. In our case we waited until 24 hours before our flight and then went to check in online, and guess what? We were automatically assigned two premium seats at no additional charge but if we had been stupid enough to fall for what AA was trying to pull, we would have paid for those seats. All I am saying here is that if the only seats left when you go to purchase tickets for a flight are those that require additional payment, that fact should be disclosed to you very clearly and prominently before you purchase so that you can plan accordingly.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I want the airlines re-regulated.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Totally agreed. When I travel solo, I look like easy pickin’s to swap seats with. My answer, “No.” Not even an “I’m sorry.” Just a “No, I booked this one for a reason.”

  • Freehiker

    As 95% of my flights are business flights, I’m usually flying solo. I get asked all the time to change my seat.

    I got bashed last time I said this, but I’ll trade for an even swap (i.e.window for window) or, of course and upgrade to First. I think I’m particularly easy because I personally don’t care if I’m in the front or the back.

    But, you want me to swap my window or isle for your middle so you can sit together? Good luck with that.

  • Not having to stand in line at the airport. If you fly carry on only, you print your boarding pass and go straight to the gate. No lines except security. It saves quite a bit of time.

  • $16635417

    Huh? If you don’t see a value in the aisle vs. a middle…don’t pay it. No fee incurred.

  • This is exactly what happened to me too. It isn’t a one-off, but a pattern.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Okay, after reading lots of comments, I’ve created a list of reasons one *should* pay extra to have an assigned seat:

    1) The seat itself is in a more desirable section of the airplane – such as premium seating, or toward the front of the plane or on an aisle.
    2) For medical conditions short of an actual disability, such as a bad knee or a bad back. If you’re in a wheelchair and have an actual disability, I don’t think you should have to pay extra for assigned seating for yourself and 1 companion. And that companion better not be named “Truffles”.
    3) Because you and your traveling companion share the one piece of carry-on luggage and both of you need to get into that one little space in front of your feet. (See #4, below.)
    4) If you are insecure about your ability to get seating together by arriving early at the gate for you and your spouse, or you and your small child or children.

    Did I cover them all?

  • bodega3

    The point for me is that because you are willing to pay this has taken those seats away from everyone else who don’t want to pay, just like those who don’t want luggage a part of their fare, so now we all have to pay to check luggage with most domestic carrier. So those with money get better seating.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    AMEN! Same thing happened to me now two years ago heading to a funeral. I didn’t want to risk getting bumped due to no seat assignments, so I paid for premium seating for all 3 of us, for all 3 legs. I played chicken on the way back home, since we weren’t facing such a fixed deadline (like a funeral) to get back home. Scored First Class from ATL to ORD for all 3 of us, at no additional charge. Sweet!

  • bodega3

    That is how Expedia is set up, but not AA or my GDS. Why didn’t you go to AA.com and check out the seating before hand? I always look at seat availability before booking.

  • NoraG

    I am afraid that I do not see the analogy between coach airline seats and the theater. I do believe that a seat in first class should cost more than a seat in coach. The prices reflect that.

    But a seat in coach is a seat in coach. It doesn’t give you a better view of the flight, it doesn’t have better acoustics; it doesn’t get you to the airport at a different time. And it’s not like the seat is optional–U.S. regulations do not allow passengers to be anywhere other the assigned seat during take-off and landing. Charging for a seat assignment is like selling a person a car, then making them pay extra for the seat, the steering wheel, the gas and brake pedals, and all the other things necessary to actually operate the vehicle.

  • John Baker

    If seats don’t matter, sit in the middle seat from now on or in the last row when you have a tight connection.

    Fact is for some people location within the cabin is important and they are willing to pay for the privilege of sitting in a better seat. If all seats are the same, why do you care when you get to choose your seat assignment?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Except when they’re not. You must have heard the stories of the families who were separated because the parents didn’t want to have to pay for assigned seats.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Perhaps, but SOP is that they are accommodated.

    In any event, my sympathy lies with families during irregular operations, emergencies, etc. because the family had little or no choice in that. But when you book a flight, you should be mindful of your wants and needs. If you elect to book a flight that doesn’t meet those needs in hopes that something happens, then you are gambling.

    Better to book a different flight.

  • TonyA_says

    Normally if there is an adult or older child seating beside a young child it is ok. But some families want every member to seat together.
    When our 3 boys were young, my wife, kids, and me had to split into 2 groups most of the times. A lot of times it just is not possible to have all 5 of us seating beside each other.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That confuses me. If the seats are more valuable, shouldn’t they cost more, like everything else in our society.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ve been to small theaters where they have an open seating, but people who pay more get preferential seating. Usually cushioned seats instead of folding chairs.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    American Airlines discloses a seat map on its website prior to purchase. Unfortunately, who knows what happens when you add additional layers to the process.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Aisle seats are more desired than middle seats. Seats in front are more desirable than seats in the back. Exit row seats are more desirable still due to additional leg room. So its clearly not true that all coach seats have the same desirability.

    But, what’s important is that that difference in value is subjective to the individual. If your main value is seat width, then it may not matter.

    But for others, the seat location matters. To others it does not.

  • bodega3

    I get the value idea, but is that what you want everything in society to be? If you can afford it, then charge so I can get it before anyone else gets it? I know you remember when a ticket cost included your seat, with leg room, meals, cleanliness and cordial seat mates and FA’s. Plus two pieces of luggage that you could check. I don’t know about you, but I miss that and don’t like all the fees that are creeping into every aspect of our lives.

  • Bill___A

    There are certain seats that should be reserved for mothers with babies There are other seats which are more desirable than others – increased leg room, etc. However, most seats are relatively the same except for being aisle, middle, window, etc. Those seats should be allowed to be booked at no charge. It is a basic courtesy to allow people who are travelling together to sit together where practical. Although it may be difficult to accommodate families of 8 or 12 etc., people with up to 2 children should be definitely accommodated.

  • SoBeSparky

    Sounds like Main Cabin Extra on American with 4″ to 6″ more legroom if you pay for it or free if you are Platinum or Executive Platinum. You fly more on American, you get a better seat.

  • Miami510

    When I purchase a ticket for a flight, of course I expect a seat to be included. My microwave came with a plug, and my car came with wheels. Airline pricing will be like a pendulum, The pendulum is now swinging in the direction of predatory practices flrom avariious companies. Once they go too far, the reaction from the public will cause a reversal.

  • bodega3

    In principle it sounds good to let families sit together, but if you are traveling with your spouse and have held your seat assignment since January for Wednesdays flight, are you saying your seats should be released to accommodate this family?

  • bodega3

    A ticket and a seat assignment are two different things. Always have been.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s exactly how our society is. Consider the basic three necessities of life are food, shelter, and clothing.

    Food. Whole Foods or Food Lion?
    Shelter. McMansion or apartment
    Clothing. Neiman Marcus or Walmart

    The basic tenet of our society is that if you want, bigger, better, more, you pay for it. If it’s not important to you or you can’t afford, then you don’t purchase.

  • TonyA_says

    Jeanne_in_NE

    Regarding your question why it is important to have a pre-assigned seat.
    The answer is in the airline’s boarding priorities.

    I think the real issue is having checked-in and having a printed boarding pass.
    For most airlines, you will need a seat assignment to get a boarding pass printed.
    The earlier you can get a boarding pass, the better. I believe it is always better to print one at home even with a lousy seat and try to change it at the airport rather than not having one.

    United Boarding Priorities
    If a flight is Oversold, no one may be denied boarding against his/her will until UA or other
    carrier personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly in exchange for compensation as determined by UA. If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority:
    a) Passengers who are Qualified Individuals with Disabilities, unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years, or minors between the ages of 12 and 17 who use the unaccompanied minor service, will be the last to be involuntarily denied boarding if it is determined by UA that such denial would constitute a hardship.
    b) The priority of all other confirmed passengers may be determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment.

    Delta Boarding Priorities
    C) Involuntary Denied Boarding
    If an insufficient number of passengers volunteer to give up their seats in response to Delta’s offer, Delta may involuntarily deny boarding to one or more passengers on the oversold flight according to the following boarding priority rules:
    1) Passengers Holding Tickets for Travel in Premium Cabin and SkyMiles members
    identified with a Diamond Medallion(DM), Platinum Medallion(PM), or Gold Medallion (GM) elite-status designation
    Passengers holding tickets for confirmed space in the First or Business class cabin and
    SkyMiles members identified with a DM, PM, or GM elite-status designation will be
    accommodated before other passengers holding tickets and/or boarding passes for
    confirmed space in the coach cabin.
    2) Passengers With Boarding Passes
    Subject to the terms set forth in Rule 245(c )(1) and (4), passengers holding boarding
    passes who check in and present themselves at the departure gate in compliance with
    Rule 135(c) will be accommodated before passengers traveling in the same cabin who
    have not been issued boarding passes or who fail to comply with applicable check-in
    requirements. Subject to the availability of seats on the aircraft, boarding passes may
    be obtained by passengers who hold tickets for confirmed reserved space in the
    following manner:
    a) for passengers traveling on electronic tickets, through the Online Check-in feature
    on Delta.com within 24 hours of scheduled departure
    b) for passengers traveling on electronic tickets, through a Delta airport kiosk within
    four hours of scheduled departure
    c) from a Delta airport ticket counter and/or the check-in desk located in the departure
    area.
    3) Passengers Without Boarding Passes Passengers, who are not governed by Rule 245(c)(1) or (4), with confirmed reservations who have not been issued a boarding pass and present themselves at the departure gate in compliance with rule 135(c) will be accommodated according to the following priority rules:
    a) Passengers who have been rebooked to the present flight as a result of an irregular
    operation (e.g., delay, cancellation) of a previously booked flight.
    Delta Domestic General Rules Tariff Page 43 of 49
    b) SkyMiles members identified with a Silver
    Medallion (FO) elite-status designation.
    c) Passengers with a SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus status.
    d) Passengers without any elite-status designation.
    Within each of the foregoing groups, passengers are prioritized first by class of service
    and then by time of check-in.
    4) Special Needs Passengers
    Because of the special needs of passengers with disabilities, unaccompanied children,
    and aged or infirm passengers, and active members of the U.S. Armed Forces on travel
    orders, Delta reserves the right to accommodate such passengers without regard to the
    boarding priorities established by this provision.

    American Airlines Boarding Priorities
    If a flight is oversold (more passengers hold confirmed reservations than there are seats available), no one may be denied boarding against his will until airline personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly, in exchange for a payment of the airline’s choosing. If there are not enough volunteers, other passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily, in accordance with the boarding priority of the specific carrier. The boarding priorities are provided below.
    NOTE: The boarding priorities as presented below will appear in the Notice provided to passengers denied boarding (see paragraph (F) below). Passengers with the highest priority, as listed below, will be the last to be involuntarily denied boarding. Passengers within any category will be boarded in the order of presenting themselves for check-in. Check-in occurs when passenger presents his ticket for issuance of a boarding pass at any point(s) designated by the airline for such purpose.

    Passengers checking in 20 or more minutes prior to scheduled departure will be accommodated as follows:

    Those passengers who will experience a severe hardship as a result of denied boarding, regardless of fare paid, for example, passengers needing assistance (physically handicapped) and unaccompanied children under l2 years of age.

    Passengers paying First Class fares.

    Passengers paying Business Class fares.

    Passengers paying the full one-way Coach (Y) fare and children under l2 years of age who are accompanied by a passenger paying the full one-way Coach (Y) fare.

    Passengers other than those noted in (a) above and passengers traveling at fares other than those described in (b) or (c) above.

    Passengers checking in less than 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure will be accommodated as follows:

    Those passengers who will experience a severe hardship as a result of denied boarding, regardless of fare paid, for example, passengers needing assistance (physically handicapped) and unaccompanied children under l2 years of age.

    Passengers paying First Class fares.

    Passengers paying Business Class fares.

    All other passengers on a first come, first served basis. However, in accordance with Rule 60(F) (RESERVATIONS), all passengers must present themselves at the loading gate, for boarding at least ten minutes before scheduled departure.

  • emanon256

    I’m fine with egalitarianism as long as there is a floor. If someone wants to pay extra for something better, good for them. But if it means someone else suffers I am not okay with it. Planes have always had middle seats, and even before a price was put on a small number of better seats, just as many people ended up in middle seats. Though I could argue everyone suffers with the small amount of leg room these days, and even those who pay extra for seats still get sub par service compared to the days of olde. If they start charging for seat belts, oxygen masks, and life rafts, they have crossed a line.

  • andrewstuart81

    I would surmise that Mr. Gilbert’s wife had a regular coach seat and the adjacent seat was a more premium seat for which AA charges more. Mr. Gilbert did not wish to pay more for a premium seat and accordingly, he has to wait until the premium seats were released. http://goo.gl/YUP3jb

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Wow! Fantastic information to have. Of the 3 carriers you listed, DL is definitely my preference out of OMA and it sure looks like it’s really, really important to have that boarding pass in place as early as possible. I really can’t think of a time I’ve had to do an online check-in with DL w/o a seat assignment already in place, but given the priorities you listed, a lousy seat assignment sure beats NO seat assignment!

  • emanon256

    That why I hate WN. It seems to bring out the worst in people. People fight to board first, people intentionally block seats next to them, people wander looking for seats. Its so frustrating. If youa re ever late to a flight, people flat out say they don’t want you next to them. It’s like an elementary school bus.

  • emanon256

    As a male traveling alone most of the time, I always get asked, and then get told point blank I am forcing a family to sit apart and how dare I do that, etc. etc.

  • Miami510

    I’m getting disgusted with the air lines. When they first began extra charges, someone
    made a joke about selling tokens for the toilets. Now that they charge for baggage, advanced
    seat assignments, preferred seat assignments, preferred flight times (last time I saved money by flying at 7:00 AM), snacks which they use to give away, TV entertainment, the toilet tokens don’t sound so preposterous.

    They still have a way to go: eating utensil charge and perhaps a charge which will guarantee a warm greeting upon entering and leaving the plane.
    ]
    How much is a “Have a nice day,” worth?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I paid extra for Early Bird for my husband and myself, just so my husband could score an aisle seat. Four flight segments all together. I put myself into the window seat, leaving the middle open between us. I gave up my window seat, moving to the middle, for a friend from church on one segment and 2 other gentlemen on 2 other segments – just because they did act like gentlemen, or at least polite individuals. My husband and I “ran interference” for the one man whose plane was boarding when we arrived in DEN, since no one on the late-arriving plane wanted to allow passengers with tight connections to get off ahead of *them*.

    Yep, just like elementary school!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    On UA, evidently it’s worth more than I paid. :)

  • emanon256

    OMG that annoys me so much when people do that. Just tell them, don’t make it someone else problem. They probably wanted the aisle to begin with and you were already in it, so they tried to take advantage.

    My wife and I sometimes take the window and aisle and then surprise the person in the middle by offering them their chose of aisle or window so that we can sit together. We do it in the hopes no one will occupy the middle, but someone always does. And then they are always happy when they get a better seat. I’m waiting for the day someone says the prefer the middle :)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Okay, have to admit that I’m not always as nice as I try to appear online: Someone tried that with my husband (we were sitting apart) and I leaned forward and said, “$75 cash and he’ll trade with you”. Woman got indignant and said she wasn’t talking to me; I said it was what I’d paid extra for my husband’s seat. As she moved on, rather noisily, I asked if her children were learning any new words from her today.

  • emanon256

    if you book via the airline or a real agent, you will know before you book if regular seats are left, or if its only premium seats.

    What irks me is that if we are able to buy tickets for a flight we
    should not be basically forced to buy premium seats, especially if the
    airline is most likely going to have to give us the premium seats anyway
    because all the non-premium seats are gone.

    You aren’t forced to buy premium seats, you bought confirmed space, you will get assigned a seat. Why should the airline give away premium seats in advance, when the people who booked early enough to get assigned seats didn’t get free premium seats? Yeah, if only premium seats are left in the end you get them for free, good for you, but why give them to you early if you aren’t willing to pay for them? Now that is punishing people who booked in advance.

  • John Baker

    I do the same thing when our family flies (5 of us). Normally I just take the middle and our seatmate the aisle or the window when he shows… I too have never had someone insist on the middle (and it hasn’t worked yet that no one shows up )….

  • emanon256

    I woudl share a seat with Truffles :)

  • emanon256

    When you purchase a flight, you are not purchasing a seat, you are purchasing confirmed space. And 60% or more of the seats on most airlines can be reserved in advance for no fee. If other people reserved them all, then you can wait and see whats open at check-in or the gate, or pay for a better seat.

    My dryer didn’t come with a plug, I had to purchase a separate plug, and there were options. My car also came with different options for tires. They were out cars with the no-cost tires. Other people bought them all. I could wait and see if another car came in with cheaper tires, just like I could wait for another flight with no-cost seats available. Or I could buy what is available now.

  • Hanope

    But airlines could arrange seat assignments a lot better than they do to accommodate families. But so many seats get blocked or reserved until the last minute that its virtually impossible to do the arranging in any sensible matter.

    I flew a lot with my parents in the 1980s we never had an instance where our 3 seats were not together. We’d show up at the airport to check in and get our seat assignments then and there and my father always managed to get our seats together. I only recall one instance where the airline couldn’t accommodate our 3 seats together in coach and we got free upgrades to business class instead.

    If they could do it then, they could do it now. They just are trying to get the extra money now.

  • bodega3

    Fares can be based on time of day and day of week. What you probably found was just a lower fare still available on the early flight that was already sold out on the later one(s). If you book online, you don’t have access to every fare rule as TA’s do in their GDS.
    It all makes me sick on the fees and lack of ‘services’ onboard a flight. I just flew UA from SFO to HNL and there is zero entertainment onboard unless you bring your own equipment. They are testing Wi-Fi and there is no charge at this time, but in their Horizon’s magazine, fees are mentioned. I HATE it!

  • Alan Gore

    Just back from five weeks in Europe, and kudos for today’s highly relevant article. When I booked British to Heathrow and Zurich, we paid an extra $230 to get aisles-across seating on each segment. All went well until the final LHR-PHX leg, when one of our reserved seats was involuntarily turned into what they called an “upgrade” by which British meant a seat with a little more legroom one cabin up – an inside center on a 747. I offered it to my wife, but she has arthritic legs and didn’t relish climbing over other people over a ten-hour flight. So I took it instead, complete with screaming baby two rows up and that guy beside me who took firm advantage of the free drink policy he enjoyed by ordering six Scotch-and-sodas during the flight (fortunately no turbulence, which is when a wasted pax gets really entertaining). My softside carryon, which fits under economy seats easily, would no longer go under the upgrade seat, meaning that I had to keep diving into the overhead bin for contact lens supplies and the three sets of prescription eyedrops that I need to take on a specific schedule.

    So a reservation fee pays for reserved seating, except when it doesn’t. Might we have done better by saving the $230 and just taking the default economy centers? You decide.

  • bodega3

    No, when you purchase a ticket, you are not getting seat. Even with a seat assignment at the time of booking, that can be taken away from you. You are booking ‘a space’ on ‘a flight’, nothing more.

  • emanon256

    That was a typo on my part. I left the “not” out, I corrected it.

  • bodega3

    Yes, times have changed. Flights are packed, overbooked.

  • emanon256

    Try booking 12-9 months out, all seats are open, and 60% or more have no cost to assign. The difference between now and the 80s is that flying so so much more common and more people fly today. So planes are much fuller, and people book further in advance.

  • emanon256

    Hahah! I love it! If I was in an aisle seat that I didn’t pay extra for, and someone wanted to switch for a middle seat, I would say no. If they offered me $75 to switch, and the flight was 4 hours or less, I probably would.

  • bodega3

    I am ok with the option to upgrade to Premier Economy over Economy options, but I am not ok for now charging for an aisle seat in basic economy. If that is the case, then does the Premier Economy aisle seat cost more? No!

  • emanon256

    I am on WN in a few weeks with my wife and son, and we want to set together, so we all 3 had to pay for early bird boarding. I wonder if the people who hold seats for their spouse booked separately so they only had to pay early bird for one of them. To me that is cheating. You did the right thing, and were beyond nice in trading your seat in that situation. I HATE it when people dont’ let those with tight connection leave first.

  • bodega3

    It depends on the market as to how many advance seat can be preassigned. Booking in advance usually lets you choice a seat assignment BUT that seat assignment is guaranteed to be there for you later on. It happens all the time. A premier flyer will bump you, seen it happen. Of course an aircraft changes, especially a down grade, if you don’t watch your reservation will leave you with no seat assigned. UA, sadly, has been doing this a lot since they merged with CO and US. It is awful to have a 777 booking get downgraded to a 767,

  • Extramail

    No, you cannot sit in the economy comfort seat on delta even if every single one of them is empty. I moved up one row and the flight attendant came and hollered at me because that was not my seat. Then the announcement came over the intercom that you could change seats to any open seat but the economy comfort seat. Sorry, I didn’t want to sit next to boyfriend and girlfriend who couldn’t keep their hands off of each other before we even left the gate.

  • omgstfualready

    Yea, I had that a few times. At first I tried to just ignore them (read) but then I decided to look them dead in the eye and………………smile politely and yawn. :-)

  • omgstfualready

    You had me at ‘I’m not always as nice as I try to appear online’.

  • bodega3

    No problem but important to always note to people, as so many think a seat is guaranteed.

  • emanon256

    That is not what I said. I said if you don’t have a seat assignment and everything is full except economy comfort, the airline will assign you an economy comfort seat at the gate for free. If economy comfort is open and you are assigned a regular seat, then you are correct, you can’t just move yourself up.

  • omgstfualready

    I think your last sentence is exactly what he was hoping to achieve in the first place…..

  • Extramail

    And, how many times have you booked a flight, gone online to pick a seat and, lo and behold, only the seats that you have to pay extra for are available. First time, I just thought I had booked too late. But, come to see, that’s standard operating procedure. I’d be real curious as to how many seats really are unassigned at any given time versus how many the airline has blocked out in order to force you to pay more for a seat selection.

  • bodega3

    You can’t book a seat before paying? I don’t book online to know. As soon as we put in a name, we can get a seat, if one is available.

  • Helio

    I think CE’s last article on the topic said that well over 60% of economy seats do not charge extra for seat assignments.

    Sorry, I believe it is the opposite – If they will charge extra for aisle AND window, in a plane with 3-3 seats per row configuration, 67% of the seats will have surcharge, and only 33% of the seats (the middle ones) won’t suffer extra charge.

    And there is always the possibility of charging an extra for the exit row middle seat because of the extra leg space…

  • Extramail

    I told one particularly unpleasant man that I’m a nervous nelly flyer so I might have to get up and down a lot. He decided to find someone else to switch with. I am a nervous flyer and don’t like sitting in the window seat and didn’t want to switch out of my aisle seat.

  • Helio

    As long as I remember, online I can only get seats assignment after purchase. You need to have the Locator # in order to reserve/assign a seat to you and eventually your party.

  • emanon256

    But they only charge for window and aisle in the front of the plain, not the middle and back. And they do charge for middle in extra leg room rows like you suggest.

    I just looked up a flight several months out on AA and found that 88 seats are available to reserve with no fee, they include almost every window, middle, and aisle in the plane behind the exit rows. 14 seats charge a fee, they are mostly windows and aisles towards the front and the exit and extra leg room rows including the middles in those cases. 33 seats are already occupied. I do not know if people paid for those seats or not. If I assume they did pay then 65% of the seats can be reserved with no fee. If they were free to reserve, then 87% can be reserved with no fee. I believe its somewhere inbetween thsoe numbers, but worst case scenario, 65% of the seats can be reserved for no fee.

  • Helio

    If this guy doesn’t care about how Emanon feels’about his seating, OK.
    But he doesn’t care about how his wife feels!!!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There’s also no difference in price between first class seats. That’s neither here nor there. At the end of the day, you have two items which have different values and it is unreasonable to think that you can get the higher valued item for the same price as the lower valued item.

  • bodega3

    First class isn’t Premier Economy and usually there is so much more space that even a middle seat in first class is better than an aisle seat in sardine class. I realize that my point of view means nothing in todays world as the attitude is, if I can afford it, screw you, bring on the fees so I can get the best. So now we have levels of economy leaving those with less getting the proverbial shaft…again.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s a separate issue whether the levels of economy are adequate. But even in the first class example, you are stating the things that are important to you about first class. Someone else may see something else as important. That’s the entire point. Each person pays for what’s important to them.

  • bodega3

    The issue has been in economy, where you get nickeled and dimed, where one price covers everything in FC. Bring that back to economy!

  • E_Woman

    Your analogy is not quite the same. Imagine if 10 rows of the orchestra section in a theater all cost $100 per seat because they are all in relatively close range of the stage. You pay $200 for two seats. After that, you have to pay more for you and your wife to be guaranteed to sit next to each other. And even more if you want to sit in the first row of this same section. That is what it is like on an airplane in coach.

  • E_Woman

    The issue is if you buy seats together at the same time you should be guaranteed that you sit next to each other. The airlines do not make this guarantee. When you buy tickets to a show (see post above) you get tickets together. They may charge extra for a closer seat, but within one row or even whole sections, you don’t pay more for an aisle or to sit next to each other.

  • E_Woman

    I disagree that it is “growing up” to be OK with wanting to sit next to one or a few people you booked with at the same time. If you bought tickets to a show with your SO and they assigned you seats 1 and 15 instead of 1 and 2 would that be acceptable? Should you have to be $40 more EACH to sit next to each other?

  • E_Woman

    I’ve posted this in response below to a few posts, but posting directly here. How is it acceptable to charge more for seats within the same section of the plane, and more if you want to sit next to your spouse/child/etc. When you buy theater tickets, you pay one price, the same as anyone else, to sit in a specific section. You get all the seats together when you purchase. They don’t charge you $100 for the seats, then assign you two tickets a few rows apart, but offer to upgrade you next to each other for $40 or more per person. Why is it acceptable for airlines to do this?

  • bodega3

    The airlines have never guaranteed seats, regardless of if you get preassignments. A ticket is not a seat. Always look at the seat map before hand to know if you can even book seats and then if you can, always monitor them.

  • $16635417

    You aren’t getting it. For someone who sees NO VALUE in an aisle seat, they should not care if they get a middle seat.

    If I see no value in a porterhouse steak, I’ll be fine with meat loaf.

  • $16635417

    Is an aisle more valuable to you than a middle? If it is, then what’s wrong with paying for it?

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    anyone who voted no is not a realist.
    If airlines charge more for seating, then they can dump more seats at a loss, (fill more aircraft, make more money, employ more people), for people who don’t care where they sit.
    Obviously the wife was on a different kind of ticket.
    Exit rows suck. Armrests don’t fold up & often near smelly toilets where people congregate (except on inbound flights to USA, where another stupid rules says that’s a big no no – ok on outbound flights though)
    The best seats are one with empty seats beside & only experienced travel agents can organise this.

  • bodega3

    I like a window seat, but I don’t want to pay extra to sit there in economy. But others are willing to pay, so if I want one, I now have to pay. I get it. If you have the money, it leaves those who don’t having to settle for the middle. It is wrong.

  • bodega3

    Why should I have to pay for any seat after buying an airline ticket, just like why should I have to pay to check my luggage? It use to be included and should be…that is my point! But because people are willing to, the rest of us get screwed! It isn’t just in airline travel this is happening.

  • $16635417

    See? Then you VALUE the window seat more, but don’t want to PAY for it. That is EXACTLY the point. The airline knows people see the VALUE and first offer it to those willing to PAY for it.

    The people that say “it’s all the same seat” are not correct and that is the point I’ve been trying to make.

    You VALUE the porterhouse more (window), but want to PAY for meatloaf (middle) and get the porterhouse (window).

  • $16635417

    You don’t HAVE to pay for a seat. If the amount they are charging is not a good value to you…don’t pay for an assigned seat and take your chances on getting a good seat at departure.

    I used to get my oil checked and tire pressure checked for free, now I have to pump my own gas or pay a premium for someone to do it and pay for the air. Things change.

  • $16635417

    Regarding First Class, I’ve noticed that sometimes when I get a discounted seat or use miles, I only see the less desirable first class seats available. (Generally bulkhead or last row) If I go through the motions of paying full fare, I see more seats on the seat map. There is a recognized value to different seats in first, and the airlines steer the tickets that generate less revenue to the less desirable seats, leaving the better ones to those customers that pay more.

  • $16635417

    I bought tickets for my daughters to go to a concert. I could not get seats together in the section they wanted. I had to pay less for cheaper nose bleed seats together.

    I COULD have bought two tickets on the field near the stage, but not close to each other.

    I also could have paid for a “package” that includes field tickets (adjacent) and “stuff”, like a program and t-shirt, for about a 400% increase.

    It IS done in other industries.

  • bodega3

    Ha, a porterhouse better not be anything close to meatloaf!
    I don’t mind a middle seat if I know the other passengers in the window and aisle seat. I don’t put a value on a window or aisle seat, as it is just a seat. I don’t think passengers should have to pay extra because someone else values one seat over the other in economy and is willing to pay for it. Kinda like the Merry-Go-Round at the carnival. Should you pay extra to ride the horse instead of the kangaroo because so many think the horse is better? One price for a seat, period!

  • bodega3

    Yes, things change, but everyone wishes for the good old days, so change isn’t always welcomed when looking back!

  • $16635417

    I remember when self serve gas was introduced. NOW, we can save money because they don’t have to hire someone to pump the gas! Everyone was all for it. (Of course, if you are in New Jersey, you pay less than neighboring states and someone pumps it for you.)

  • sirwired

    But you aren’t forced to do anything… Simply don’t select a seat if you don’t like any of the choices available to you. You’ll eventually be assigned a seat somewhere for no additional charge.

  • TonyA_says

    So they upgraded you to World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy Cabin) and you still complain? Why didn’t you stay in your aisle seat and let them give the upgrade to someone else?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    You can do that. Of course that means you pay for the service whether you use it or not. Personally, I prefer having the option to change my habits (bring food, pack light) and not have it rolled into my cost.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’d be curious to know which airline you are flying. Not that I object to the practice, but I was not aware that anyone did that in first class.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    don’t think passengers should have to pay extra because someone else values one seat over the other in economy and is willing to pay for it.

    That’s the perspective of the person who wants to get the better item at the cheaper price. What about the person who actively wants the aisle seat and is willing to pay for it. Is it fair that they have to play the lottery to get what they want and are willing to pay for.

    I’m a broad shouldered guy. Window seats are uncomfortable to me. I will pay more for the aisle seat so I’m more comfortable and don’t end up with a sore shoulder. When the seats are differentiate by price, I can guarantee my preferred seat. But I guess I must suffer because others want the aisle seat but don’t want to pay for it.

    Two sides to the story.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I have no problem with that. What I DO have a problem with is when they literally separate children from any parent at all. That HAS happened, and for no good reason other than the airlines trying to squeeze as much money as they can out of selling seat assignments.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Ummm, Truffles the “service dog” with severe diarrhea?

  • Travelnut

    Amen! Preach it! I usually travel solo, and I get this request a lot. Sadly, I’m a chump and easily guilted into moving. I will say that the times I have moved, the flight attendants have treated me very well afterwards – extra snacks, free booze.

    I would like to add a thought. When I hear the whinge “I can’t believe they charge me extra to sit with my companion/family” it really annoys me. Why should I have to pay extra to sit on the aisle if I’m traveling alone, but you shouldn’t have to because you’re not traveling alone? Tell me how that makes sense. I don’t like it either, but it’s a fact of flying these days so reserve early and suck it up.

    I check my seat assignments obsessively since I’ve been burned so often. About ten years ago I was flying to Germany and I reserved a seat six months ahead. The plane had seats arranged 3-5-3. At the time there were plenty of seats. I’d chosen the seat in the middle of the bulkhead. When I boarded the plane, I didn’t even look at the boarding pass; I “knew” where my seat was, and I plopped down & made myself at home. Shortly, a lady told me I was in her seat. They’d kicked me out to accommodate mothers with bassinets. My new seat was in the middle of five seats. So ticked. Thanks for nothing, AA.

  • Alan Gore

    There was no such option. The aisle I had reserved months before was mysteriously unavailable at flight time. Sure, it’s nice to get an “upgrade,” but when it gets offered to just one of us when we had paid extra specifically to sit together, the other passenger always feels slighted.

    Yet another example of a one-way “contract.” The passenger gets nailed to the wall if he tries to change anything after making a reservation, but the airline gets to change anything they want at the last minute.

  • Travelnut

    Who would bash you for that? I’m not completely unwilling to move but I do insist on it still being an aisle seat. Now if someone offered me $100? I’d be more flexible.

  • bodega3

    Yes, this is really annoying and happens all the time, which isn’t right!

  • bodega3

    Yes, bulkhead seats on many of the carriers can get you bumped for a variety of reasons, especially international.

  • bodega3

    If I want a better seat, I pay for business, first class or Premier economy. In basic economy all seats should be based on when you get your ticket. That way it is fair to those who book well enough out and the carrier has your money. I am tired of ‘I am willing to pay for it’ as it screws those who can’t afford it, for economy cabin. Seats and luggage, just like in business and first class should be part of the ticket, not a fee afterwards.

  • bodega3

    It shouldn’t matter, it should be all a part of the fare, as it is in business and first for economy cabin. You don’t use it, that is ok.

  • bodega3

    Yes, if they just go back to it all being a part of the fare, it would benefit everyone. If you don’t wish to check a bag, eat a meal you still pay for it in first and business, so why not in economy? Let’s get back to what is important. Offering a decent experience, not a blue light special!

  • E_Woman

    OK, guarantee is the wrong word. How about assigned two seats together without charging extra for it at the time of purchase? Even if they’re not ideal seats, at least start out together. Then if you choose to pay extra for wider/aisle/window seats that’s your choice.

  • Travelnut

    Well, if the seats are the standard three on each side, the two seats together would include a premium seat. So if a couple got a premium seat for no extra charge but a solo traveler had to pay a fee, that’s not right.

  • AirlineEmployee

    My answer would be…..”Sorry, I picked this seat,…the seat that I want”. People will use all kinds of methods to make you feel guilty….

    Today I heard this from a passenger.
    “Oh, you’re not willing to HELP us out and let my wife and I sit together?”
    “Call up the guy in 4D and change him to 1C (my seat) so I can sit next to my wife at 4C” (they were in F-class).
    “How could this happen??, U N A C C E P T A B L E !!!!!!!!!!!
    Turns out they were booked on two separate reservations. The computer doesn’t know they’re together. I calmly suggested they ask that passenger on board as I was not allowed to touch anyone else’s seat assignment in F-class. When I went onboard, they were sitting together. In one way I understand people wanting to sit together but really, is it a “life and death” matter if they sit apart for 2-1/2 hours?

  • AirlineEmployee

    I can never understand the brass ….. of some people to even ask.

  • AirlineEmployee

    I know it’s another subject but can we throw in telephone use?….Here you are sitting and seething about being in a seat you don’t want and you’ll be listening to some loud, obnoxious clown on his/her phone. All of this is a recipe for air rage.
    Me?, if I were a fare-paying passenger, I would be darned if I shell out more money to “pick” my seat. I’d rather suffer in the middle.

  • emanon256

    I totally missed this story, what happened? I just like dogs.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Google “Truffles the service dog” for a story that happened this past Saturday. Then Tony’s and my comments will make more sense.

  • emanon256

    HAHAHA!!! Now I am cracking up!! Poor Truffles.

  • TonyA_says

    Dear Chris,
    I think I have figured out what the consumer advocacy issue is.
    It takes some analysis that is quite easy and the results reveal something quite shocking.

    I went to a few seat maps of random AA flights. I did notice quite an alarming trend – only about a third of the seats are pre-assignable without paying a fee or getting an upgrade or being an elite.

    This phenomenon can be demonstrated by looking at AA’s JFK to LAX flights.
    The typical equipment is an Airbus A321.
    (Source of Data below: Seatguru)
    As the figure below shows, only 36 of the 102 total seats (or 35%) are in “steerage” seating section.
    But displaying the seat map in GDS shows that only 14 of these seats (those with a check mark in the diagram) are pre-assignable without a fee. Presumably, less than 14% of the total seats of the aircraft are in coach with fee-free preassignable seats.

    What does this all mean? The real economy cabin is actually bigger than you think.
    An economy fare passenger can be assigned a seat in any of the 36 Main Cabin Extra or 36 Economy seating sections. That’s about 70% of the total seats in the aircraft. But the crux of the matter is that the economy class passenger is limited in pre-selecting his seat unless he is an elite, pays full fare, or pays a fee.

    Note that the passenger can get lucky and be assigned to a Main Cabin Extra if he waits for his fate at the gate. So in essence, you are really paying extra for CHOOSING A SEAT.
    And, if you do not pay, your eventual seat may be based on a “lottery” of what is leftover.

    Obviously this kind of seat-assignment process does not bode well for parents with very young children. They want to be assured that their precious ones will be beside them on a flight. That is why they feel they have been singled out in this fee game.

  • TonyA_says

    Refunds

    Paid seating will not be refunded if you cancel your flight, are involuntarily upgraded or are not suitable to sit in the seat type you have selected.

    Apparently you agreed to the Terms and Conditions of BA’s paid seating program. Now what?

  • Helio

    Tony, for some reason, there are no figures attached…

  • TonyA_says

    I can see them when I use Chrome. One or more are missing when I use Firefox :(

    Note that you cannot get an aisle seat in coach without paying extra or being an elite.

  • Helio

    I’m in Chrome… :(

  • Helio

    I just reloaded and worked :-)

  • TonyA_says

    There is something about separating children and not sitting with parent on the same flight that befuddles me.
    We as a society are fine with a 5 year old traveling alone as a UMNR. If that is ok with no parent on the flight then why is it not ok if there is a parent on the flight but not sitting with the young kid?
    This fact alone makes we want to ask – is sitting together with a 5 and older kid is an over-reaching entitlement?

  • TonyA_says

    Emanon, look at my research below. For AA (that is not US metal) I find that only slightly more than 30% of coach seats is pre-assignable without a fee (for non-status flyers). I wonder where this 60% figure comes from since it is double my reality.

  • emanon256

    The greater than 60% figure was what an executive at US Airways said, though last night I tried to book a flight on AA for a random date in Oct, DEN-ORD and found more than 60% were no cost to reserve. I do not have any status with AA, and didn’t even log-in, I just went through the booking process. I don’t remember the flight number, however I responded to another poster so I still have the stats.

    I found that 88 seats are available to reserve with no fee, they
    include almost every window, middle, and aisle in the plane behind the
    exit rows. 14 seats charge a fee, they are mostly windows and aisles
    towards the front and the exit and extra leg room rows included the
    middles in those cases. 33 seats are already occupied or blocked (it didn’t say which and many seemed to be in the economy comfort area). I do not know if
    people paid for those seats or not. If I assume they all did pay or had status or were blocked then 65%
    of the total seats on this flight can currently be reserved with no fee. If they were all free to reserve, which some of them might have been but probably not all,
    then 87% can be reserved with no fee. I believe its somewhere
    in between those numbers and probably closer to the 50%, so worst case scenario 65% of the seats can
    be reserved for no fee.

    If I remember right, your search for for a flight in a few weeks. In most cases wouldn’t a lot of the seats be taken by then? I wonder if they also add more fees closer to the time of departure?

  • TonyA_says

    My latest research is for JFK-LAX.
    I used dates far ahead so I can see an empty cabin.
    Delta has about 61% pre-assignable without fee or status, while UA has 54%.
    I’ll take a look at DEN-ORD an report back.

  • bodega3

    I booked myself away from an AA flight due to their seat policies. Charging for seats in basic economy is wrong.

  • E_Woman

    No it is not. When you buy two tickets for a show, regardless of what section they are in or how much you paid the seats are next to each other for the price you paid. It doesn’t matter if you pay $25 (nosebleed) or $1,000 (premium). The price you pay for any section for two seats places you next to each other. They don’t tell you it is $100 per ticket and then add, if you want to sit next to each other, it’s another $25.

  • bodega3

    Some are ok with their 5 year old being UMNR, some are not. I know that I would not allow our 5 year old to sit anywhere but with their family if everyone is traveling on the same flight. For those who book at the last minute, they take their chances, but if you book in advance and the children’s ages are in the PNR, as is now required, any schedule changes, aircraft changes should be required to reaccommodate children with the adult they were originally sitting next to.

  • E_Woman

    You have to wonder where it ends. What if you wanted a porterhouse steak and can afford it, but now they want to charge you extra if you want to specify rare, medium or well-done? Sounds ridiculous but I’m sure many of the choices we now have to make on airline add-ons used to seem ridiculous.

  • TonyA_says

    US/AA DEN ORD has 29% (.) plus another 29% (D) pre-assignable seats. Note the (.) dot has no restrictions while the (D) is Disable Priority seating. Both can be pre-assigned. So that makes a total of 58% of the coach cabin pre-assignable without a fee. Now remember this is for DEN-ORD

    But for JFK-LAX if I add the 4 (D) pre-assignable seats, I will have a total of 18 pre-assignable over a total of 72 total seats in coach (Main Cabin Extra plus economy). That means that only 25% of the seats are preassignable without a fee.

  • DrewT

    Interestingly enough, this isn’t my experience… having a “Seat Request Card” (which is what Delta, at least, calls a ‘boarding pass’ with no seat assignment) is more likely to be denied boarding than someone who already has a seat assignment. If you have a seat and can board, then they will board you. If there are no seats left for a “request”, then they will bump you.. While I haven’t had this happen to me, I’ve had it happen to people that I was traveling with (business travel, separate reservations, booked at different times.. I had a seat assignment, my coworker didn’t. They boarded me, they didn’t board him. he got put on the next flight, which got in 45 minutes later)..

  • TonyA_says

    CORRECTION:
    On this flight, there are 4 seats in coach 20 C,D and 21 C,D (all in aisle) that are coded as “D” – Disabled Priority Seating which are also pre-assignable.
    That will up the total of pre-assignable seats to 18 in total (for coach) without a fee or elite status.

  • emanon256

    Okay, 25% percent is getting to where I think its too few that are pre-assignable. But of course that is my opinion, and has no influence on the airlines. I like the 60%+ range, that has always sat well with me. The majority of people get a no additional cost pre-assigned seat. Once it drops below 40% or so, I can see why people may be upset.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well I personally would never send a child as young as 5 alone on a plane. But yes that program exists, so for those who use it…the UMNR program with the airlines is supposed to ensure that they are taken care of for the duration of the flight. Parents arrange for this in advance. The airlines offer it as an option. The expectation is that the flight crew will ensure that child is safe.

    There is NO expectation or agreement like that for a child who is simply separated from his parent because the airline wouldn’t sit them together since they didn’t pay extra.

    There are plenty of stories on the internet about families with children as young as toddlers being forced to separate. Some of these stories are from the passengers who got stuck sitting next to somebody else’s kid, complaining about how they had to help them! You know this happens. And it’s just wrong.

    Frankly I can’t believe anyone would suggest that wanting to sit next to your 5-yr-old on a flight filled with strangers is “overreaching entitlement”. Wow. Just…wow. I’m really hoping you are not a parent.

  • Mel65

    When I travel with my hubby or son (both 6’2+), I always pay for an aisle and I take the middle. I’m pretty small and frankly, I’m physically comfortable wherever, and I can always crawl over my own family member to get out, but window seats in particular make me feel kinda anxious. I think it’s the idea I CAN’T GET OUT IF I WANT TO. I had to fly from Chicago to Hawaii in the middle of a 5 across a few years ago–my personal little hyperventilating hell on earth….er, air. Thank goodness for in flight alcohol!

  • emanon256

    I’ve managed to avoid the middle of the 5 across for several years now. I did it once and swore to do whatever it takes to never fly there again.

    Lately I’ve been taking the middle and making my wife take the aisle when it’s just the two of us. She is too nice and always tries to take the middle so I don’t have to, I am 6’1″ and she is 5’8″. With her in the the aisle the middle is actually not bad.

  • Mel65

    I have to laugh at the wording “involuntarily upgraded” …. Ahhh airlines. You make me laugh and laugh and laugh and….

  • TonyA_says

    Why do you have to make your comments personal?
    I simply asked a probing question and you blow it up and make me look like a monster parent.
    I am a parent of 3 boys – all achievers. Thank you very much.
    My question goes to the core of American principles.
    If it is OK for 5 years to travel alone because the airline has a UMNR program then how can traveling with Mom a few feet away be so bad?

  • Mel65

    I agree, to an extent. One parent, one minor child under the age of 10 or so should be accommodated, certainly; that’s just common sense and common courtesy. But these couples who think they will JUST DIE if they’re apart for a few hours or families who think that 3, 4 or 5 family members MUST ALL BE TOGETHER because heaven only knows what will happen if they SIT BY A STRANGER… eh. They’re just annoying.

  • $16635417

    I could by two tickets near the stage, but not next to each other for one price. In order to get two together, in the same section, I would have had to pay the 400% markup. Deduct the value of the t-shirt and program and I’m still paying a huge premium and the only difference is they are together.

  • Mark Carrara

    The issue is no one is willing to pay for that. Just about everyone wants to pay less. So If I offer a better flying experience, but it is $25 more, almost no one will book on my airline. WalMart has taught that all that matters is a lower price, quality or social costs don’t matter. Don’t believe me? When is the last time you shopped at a independent butcher shop? Or Independent bookstore or an independent anything?

  • Mark Carrara

    I think that is called capitalism. As consumers we have the choice, the power. If no one paid the extra fees they would go away. Airlines are not a monopoly. They may be a oligarchy, but we do have choices. I have voted with my wallet, avoiding air travel unless it is unavoidable(Does anyone know how to get to Hawaii without flying?). Most people are willing to trade time saved by flying for dealing with the hassles, not me.

  • bodega3

    Yes, and at issue, which I have been saying, is that those who say, ‘I am willing to pay extra for the aisle seat’, are causing the problem to exist. If they didn’t pay, the carriers would have to drop the fees.

  • TonyA_says

    There still is no formal rule that requires airlines to sit children beside their parents (or accompanying adults). Airlines do not even commit to it in writing (as I have never read it in the COCs or similar documents), or do they?
    Hence, if you want to sit down beside your kid then that’s your problem to solve.

  • bodega3

    What hasn’t happened are that the fares didn’t drop due to not including luggage in the fare. So we paying more all the way around. As for independents, I shop them 95% of the time. I am actually heading out shortly to go to my local butcher shop.

  • bodega3

    No there isn’t a rule or law, but now with the ages in the PNR, it would be possible to do this. As we both know, all this is computer generated, but the ages could be programmed to pop up and then someone could actually handle this.

  • TonyA_says

    Ages were always in the PNR. Don’t you code child PTCs as Cnn where nn is their age in years?
    You do not need the TSA SSR DOCS for the date of birth to figure this out.
    My point is unless the government makes a rule, then the airlines are free to do anything they want, including stupid things.
    They made a tarmac delay law so why can’t they make a family seating together law?

  • Hanope

    The only problem is flying internationally. I’m always told I can’t reserve a seat because the airline has to look at my passport before giving me a boarding pass. Its happened on a couple different airlines. It just always amazing how other groups manage to sit together, but my family of 4 is always split up all over the plane, no matter how early we get to the airport.

  • Hanope

    I don’t think its unreasonable to accommodate 2 people that want to sit next to each other and not have to pay a premium to do so. At least with my family, they won’t complain if my arm or thigh pushes a little into their space. People are generally a lot happier if they can sit next to someone they know.

  • bodega3

    We only do a pricing entry if there is a child’s fare in the market. With the TSA rule of DOB, a program could certainly handle this for parents on schedule changes and reaccommodation….provided everyone is in the same PNR.

  • bodega3

    Really? What carriers?

  • Mel65

    I don’t know if “people are generally happier….” My hubby sleeps on planes and I read my Nook. Unless the person next to me is a farting, drooling slob with BO or a crying baby with an oblivious parent, I probably won’t care or notice one way or the other. And I’ve met some nice strangers and learned some cool new things and ideas on a few occasions. And while it seems logically “not unreasonable” to accommodate a pair that want to sit together, well I guess that depends what you mean by accommodate. Is it allowing them to choose their seats at time of purchase and then let them KEEP those seats, barring unforeseen circumstances? Sure. Is it making a person (like me) traveling alone on business who chose an aisle seat move so that 2 people who already spend every waking moment together don’t have to risk falling out of love in the few hours they’ll be apart? Not so much. For me, when it comes to a parent and a small child. No brainer. I will, and have many times, move to accommodate that because they NEED to be together. Frankly, as long as I get from point A to point B with a modicum of civility and comfort, I’m not that concerned with who’s in the seat next to me. (See objections to farting, drooling, etc… above).

  • Sometime_flier

    Must be airline-specific. I fly United to Chicago a couple times a year and when I book, seating choice always comes up before I pay.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Okay, I hear you and I apologize. Point taken.

    In re-reading your comment I see that you are simply pointing out that “society” seems to be okay with 5yr olds traveling as UMNR. And airlines do in fact allow it, so I see your point…although I would disagree that society *as a whole* finds this acceptable. I certainly don’t, and I don’t know too many other parents who would.

    So I’ll do my best to answer your question. The fact is that I don’t consider it acceptable at all, under ANY circumstances, for a child as young as 5 to be seated surrounded by strangers on a plane, whether the parent is on the flight or not. But at least with the UMNR program, the parent MAKES THE CHOICE to send that child on the flight alone, with the understanding that an adult will be (supposedly) monitoring and taking care of the child for the duration of the flight. (Not that they do…there are stories all over the internet of kids traveling UMNR completely ignored by the crew.)

    But when children are separated from their parents simply because the airline won’t seat them together, that is against the will of the parents. Every child is different, and only a parent would know whether their child would be able to emotionally handle being left alone for so long. There are many children who, for various reasons, would not do well in that, and no parent should be forced into that situation.

    And let’s not forget there are numerous cited cases of children UNDER 5 who were stuck far away from the parent. I saw it happen once myself. And nobody was willing to switch their seat. I was horrified, and the mother was in tears the entire flight. It ended up disrupting everyone, because the mother had to hang out in the aisle near her child whenever the seatbelt sign was off, and when the sign was on and she couldn’t, the child cried the entire time. And STILL none of those people would give in and give up their seat. It was miserable for everyone.

    So I guess my answer is…when a child travels under the UMNR program, the parent made that choice. But in a forced separation, they did not.

    I hope that clarifies my position

    Meanwhile, I will not edit my earlier comment, even though I regret my words…I will leave them there and simply apologize again for my emotional reaction.

  • DrewT

    While I agree with the sentiment, I think this particular flight is a bad example… the AA LAX-JFK route is being widely publicized as being their new “premium” offering (think the same as the old United “p.s.”) with First and Biz class,,, it’s not necessarily going to be the ‘best’ flight for an infrequent non-business traveler to take…

  • DrewT

    So I’m thinking that there’s a missing piece here that a lot of people aren’t taking into account… There _are_ different fare classes, much like there are different levels of tickets for shows… if you buy the higher fare classes, you do get to pick those premium seats without a fee. In fact, on Delta, you can tell it that you want a particular fare class when you’re looking to book.

  • Nathan Witt

    I guess my take is that we’re not entitled, we’re customers. The system has developed such that there’s not any real competition, so we customers have to put up with pretty much whatever policies the airlines make common if we want to fly. If I want a backrub when I fly, then as a paying customer, it’s not entitlement for me to want that. I may be disappointed that no one offers it for a price I want to pay, but wanting value for my money doesn’t make me entitled.

  • TonyA_says

    I only compared NONSTOP options for JFK-LAX.
    Delta has about 61% pre-assignable without fee or status, while UA has 54%. They have a lot more than AA pre-assignable seats (for the same upscale market).
    This brings up 2 points. Do you expect families who want to fly AA from NYC to LAX to choose a lousier flight – like those that connect in DFW hoping that there are more pre-assignable seats for those flights?
    Second, I did check other AA routes (eg TPA-RNO via DFW or ORD) and they all were in the 40-50% max range for pre-assignable seats.

  • TonyA_says

    The thing is that an airline flight is simply another mode of transportation (using a common carrier). Most commuter trains, subways, ferries or buses really do not also guarantee that young kids will find a seat beside their parent. If kids can ride a school bus alone, why can’t they fly with their parent seated on another row?
    If this was a matter of SAFETY, then I hope we have law that requires that a child sit beside an adult who will help them in case they need to don an oxygen mask. I still cannot find a good enough reason why a 5 year old (non handicapped) kid needs a baby sitter (i.e. a parent) sitting beside them on a short flight. If the kid is obnoxious then maybe he/she should not fly and disturb other people. As you can see, I cannot see why a parent of a 5 year old or older should pay nothing for the same privilege to preassign a seat while others have to. Unless there is a medical or safety necessity they can pay the fee just like everyone else does.

  • DrewT

    OK… I just checked… When I first heard about the AA “premium” offering, I thought it was only a handful of flights a day, like the old United “p.s.” where you could fly either the ‘regular’ flight or the ‘premium’ flight.. it doesn’t look like that’s the case…

    And I’m not necessarily sure that a connection is a “lousier” flight… it all depends on what their needs are… My father-in-law would gladly take the connection in DFW, as that will allow him to get up and take a walk and work out the stiffness in his bad knee. In addition, connecting flights can be cheaper. I looked at the LAX-NYC flight on AA for July 15/22, and it was showing $631-726 round trip on the non-stop and as low as $436 round trip for the connection…

    Now… as I said, it’s not necessarily the ‘best’ flight for a non-business traveler to take, and I think that’s what American is betting on here… American has put a true 3-class bird (and a relatively small one at that!) on a transcon flight… Would I book that flight? Yup. I would think that you’d probably get a little bit better service because of the lower number of passengers… But, unfortunately, American will probably try to get away with 1 FA for 10 FC pax, 1 FA for 20 Biz pax, and 1 FA for the 72 “Steerage” pax…

  • TonyA_says

    You know what all this discussion really means?
    It means that passengers picky about seating location should shop by seating selection.
    Since airline sites mostly have seat maps available prior sale then this should be a no brainer.
    I hope Elliott has that in the World’s Smartest Traveler book.

  • E_Woman

    I’m going to assume I am not explaining myself
    correctly, so let’s try this instead. When I tell Ticketmaster I want two seats
    in section x (let’s say x is orchestra, $100 seats), it automatically ONLY
    shows me two together. In fact, if there are only single seats lefts, it tells
    me my preference is unavailable. It does NOT allow me to purchase two seats at
    $100 each, then tell me if I want them to be together I now have to pay an
    additional $25 per seat. Further, aisle seats do not cost any more than any
    other seat in a row, and a seat against a wall doesn’t cost any less. An
    airline will let me buy two seats at one price, then tell me if I want to
    guarantee a seat next to the person I bought the same reservation for, I have to
    pay extra.

  • SallyLu

    I am not a frequent flyer, however, my understanding is that when chilren are flying alone, there is an extra fee because there is a flight attendant appointed to watch them. Am I wrong in assuming that this would not be the case with children traveling with parents, if they are separated?
    Regardless, I am one of the parents who would have not been comfortable letting my child fly alone, and I would have been very upset to be separated from my daughter on a flight.

  • $16635417

    Assume what you want, but I understand YOUR experience. Please don’t bother trying to explain it again. You obviously are having a difficult time understanding mine.

    So here it goes again:

    When I go to the Tickemaster website and search for two tickets I am given the “best available” seats in the nose bleed section, upper deck opposite end of the stadium from the stage.

    When I search for SINGLE tickets, I can get the section right next to the stage. I can buy two seats in that section that are not adjacent and my kids don’t sit together. Much like when, even before airlines charged for seats, you would look at a seat map and see there were only single seats left.

    HOWEVER>>> Ticketmaster has a link that tells me premium packages are available. I click THAT link and get two seats in the SAME SECTION that only had single seats available when I searched for tickets at face value.Ticketmaster has made this a “package” by adding stuff we really don’t care about, such as a program or t-shirt. So…In order to get TWO SEATS TOGETHER, I am forced to pay a premium.

    I don’t know if I can explain MY experience any more clearly.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes you will be charged a UMNR fee – at least $100.
    But the FA will not babysit your kid. They will only keep an eye on your kid and will assist with their needs. Remember the FAs are busy feeding passengers and serving drinks.
    I assume a parent can also do that (watch a kid) a few rows away.

    The issue is here is PAYING for seat assignments. Why is a parent wanting a pre-assigned seat gonna be exempt from paying the fee whereas others won’t? Unless there is a safety issue, the reason for wanting to sit together should be viewed equitably.

    ADDED: Nowadays, flights are so full that asking a passenger to exchange or move seats will likely hassle that passenger.
    In other words someone’s entitlement is another person’s loss or inconvenience..

  • P.j. Zornosa

    “Preferred Seats” is US Airways nomenclature. God Bless us all (American fliers) if US Airways is allowed to institute their draconian and anti-consumer attitude. What would it hurt for the airline to allow them to sit together – especially when their itineraries were so long?
    Courtesy costs nothing and if the airlines realized this they’d have a handle on how to create more passenger loyalty.

  • innchfromnj

    Carriers shouldn’t charge for a seat assignment, but they will figure out a way to do so.
    I predict that all non middle seats and those in the front two thirds of the cabin will be deemed “premium seats” which will cost the passenger extra.
    Using air travel is going extreme anti consumer.

  • innchfromnj

    What is the difference which terminology AA uses?
    The bottom line is the carrier is adding another fee.
    Soon airlines will start charging customers for charging them. A “fee” fee.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If you go to a high end steak house, they charge you for vegetables and the potato.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The difference is substantial. Consider, 2 people who want to travel together. Under the AA system, they can get to seats together without paying a penny more if seats are available in regular economy, which, incidentally is disclosed prior to buying the ticket.

    If AA were charging for seat assignments, then they would have to pay to sit together or roll the dice.

    In the former case, the couple can guarantee sitting together without an additional fee, in the latter case they cannot.

  • Hanope

    Well, it was Lufthansa about 4 years ago and last year was Jet Airways. Now in both cases, I had to call the airline directly to buy the tickets, due to other issues, so maybe that was the reason I couldn’t get a seat assignment, although I was told that I couldn’t do early check in, online check in or reserve a seat because the airline was required to confirm/see the passports first, and thus I had to wait until we got to the airport.

  • mythsayer

    It nearly happened to me with my daughter. I had assigned seats together. They were there when I checked in and got my boarding pass. By the time I we arrived on our other flight ( it was a connecting flight), they’d taken my confirmed seats. They were dead set on not giving us seats together. I told them to find someone to feed, change, and babysit my 8 month old. Magically they got us together… 10 minutes before we boarded.

  • mythsayer

    Ummm… Do you want to care for my four year old? She’ll talk your ear off. I’d happily let her sit my you as long as you don’t get pissed at me for her behavior. She’s a decent kid, but she is four. But i am responsible for her and I shouldn’t have to pay more just to do what I’m required by law to do (care for her).

  • mythsayer

    No. Just no. As I said above, I’m legally responsible for my child. I should not have to pay more to make sure she behaves. No one else has to pay more, so if I don’t, then you can babysit. It’s not my problem at that point. I don’t need to sit next to my husband. THAT isn’t problem to solve. But my four year old… Or when she was a baby. We shouldn’t be forced to pay more when you’re not. Functionally, it IS being forced. You’d complain if she was by herself by you, ergo… I have no choice.

  • norm

    You are kidding right? When did it become a “perk” to be able to sit next to your children on a flight? Are we going to start charging different prices for the aisle seat, the middle seat, and the window seat? I’m really curious as to why, when I purchase a “seat” on a flight, I have to play russian roulette on where I’m going to end up sitting? I refuse to fly on a airline that has to break up families in the name of extortion. It’s just plain crazy. I’m sending my daughter in law on a 8 hour flight tonight with a 3 year old and a infant. I suppose it would be okay for American to put the 3 year old several rows away from mom unless she pays more money to sit together? Enough! Congress has to stop this insanity!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I do not recall mentioning families, but respectfully, none of that is accurate. American will reseat people to ensure that minors under a certain age are seated next to a parent or appropriately older sibling.

    Also, irregular ops notwithstanding, American displays seats maps prior to purchase. If you won’t like the available seat options, choose another flight.

    Suppose the flight has one coach seat and several business class seat. What would you do? You’d either buy 2 business class seats or take a different flight. How is this different?

    And why not charge different prices for different seats if they are more valuable. Otherwise its basically you saying you want the better, i.e. more valuable seat, but don’t want to pay for it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    AA gives seats assigned prior to purchase. You can even hold the seat for 24 hours, you will still get a seat assignment.

  • TonyA_says

    I won’t babysit your kid. I do have rights, too.
    If you don’t want to pay the fee to get pre-assigned seats that is your problem, not mine.

  • TonyA_says

    Why is your kid my problem?
    Most airlines do not allow 4 year olds to travel alone.
    Therefore you or another adult will have to accompany your kid if you want her to fly. That is your responsibility or your kid does not fly.
    But the airline rules use the term accompanied and not the term seating together.
    If you feel that your kid will terrorize other passengers then it is YOUR responsibility not to make that happen. Stop blaming the rest of the passengers and accept your responsibility. If you have to spend money then do it – that is part of your responsibility.

  • TonyA_says

    I was wondering if I could get you to comment on this:
    bit dot ly/1pTDCUB

    Airline sex discrimination policy controversy

  • Raven_Altosk

    That’s what you call “hysteria” and “PC-tarded.” If every single male flying is a pedo, then you better shut down the airlines now…

  • LeeAnneClark

    Okay Tony, I apologized earlier for my comments, but this comment of yours almost makes me want to take it back. Seriously, you were making some decent points…but now you’ve gone totally off the rails.

    To answer you question…my kid is NOT your problem. My kid is MY problem. And I want to keep it that way. The airlines have no right to separate my child from me and stick him with strangers, making him THEIR problem.

    See how that works?

    Do you REALLY consider it acceptable for a parent to be separated from their 4-yr-old? And if they are, and the child is seated with strangers, you blame the PARENT if the child “terrorizes” other passengers? Earth to Tony…you say you are a parent, do you really not remember what they were like at 4 years old? Do you really believe that any 4-yr-old would be able to be perfectly charming and unobtrusive for hours seated among strangers? And if they are not, you feel they are “terrorizing” and it’s the parents’ fault?

    Okay, so let’s say you DO believe that about 4 year olds. (Which is ridiculous, but at this point nothing is surprising to me). How about 3 year olds? How about 2 year olds? How about 18 month olds? At what point would you say the airlines really do need to seat the child with his parent? Do you consider it the parents’ responsibility to teach toddlers how to behave on a plane if they are separated and stuck between strangers? And if the toddler is not capable of quietly behaving among strangers for the duration of the flight, that the parents have no right to take that child with them?

    Please go back and read your last comment. And maybe read the comment to which you are responding. I’m hoping you will begin to see how your comments are coming across. And it’s not just me, Tony…I have showed your comments to several other parents just to do a sense check, and they were just as shocked as I was.

  • Mel65

    Southwest doesn’t fly out of our airport so I’ve never flown them, but SERIOUSLY? This sort of nonsense occurs and the FAs allow it? It sounds like an awful process. Someone saying “No you can’t sit here so neener neener” would bring out my latent (but bubbling just below the surface) violent tendencies!

  • Mel65

    On a flight from Dallas to Chicago, the FAs announced half a dozen times that since we were a little late there were several people with tight connections and requested that those who were at their final destination or had more time please allow those passenger to deplane first. Nope. Everyone did the usual stand up as soon as wheels hit the ground and crowd into the aisle. One poor woman was in tears because she was back in aisle 33 or 34 and just KNEW she wasn’t going to make it. Jerks. I irritated the guys in the middle and window seat beside me because I didn’t jump into the aisle. I asked if they had connections and they said “No” so I said, “then what’s the hurry, there are people who do.” They looked at me like I had 2 heads. I do NOT get the “Where I need to be is so much more important than anyone else and I can’t spare 5 minutes to be polite” attitude that so prevalent.

  • Crissy

    I’m often traveling by myself so as long as I’m not in a middle seat for a long flight I’m not too fussy. But, I do find the whole paying for a seat assignment distasteful for a number of reasons. As a solo traveler, if it is a longer flight, the price of the seat usually isn’t that big of a deal and I’ll pay the money. But, if I was traveling with friends or family – that can be A LOT of money to guarantee being with the person I travel with. You end up pissing off the people who are hardest to seat (groups/families) and make it easier for the single travelers who are usually just paying to keep a preferred window or aisle seat but the row doesn’t matter. BUT, if I pay money for my seat, the only way I’m moving is if the airline is refunding my money or putting me in a better seat.

    In the end the ones who get really punished are the gate agents and flight attendants who have to try and keep people happy in the plane. Or the families who pay exhorbinant amounts of money for something the airline can easily control.