Airline seat fees separate mom from five-year-old twins By Christopher Elliott | December 13, 2012 Ever since airlines added new economy-class seat reservation fees, they’ve insisted that the new charges would not lead to families with young kids being separated. And I believed it — until I heard from Vicki Wallace. Wallace was flying from Philadelphia to San Diego on US Airways recently, when the fees led to her being separated from her five-year-old twins, she says. Her case is important because airlines have insisted they aren’t forcing their customers to book these “choice” seats for their kids, and that they’ll do everything in their power to make sure families with young children are seated together on a flight, whether they paid more for their seat reservations or not. It all began when Wallace started planning the trip to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving. I reserved my seats ahead of time and was peeved to find I had to pay $67 for a “choice” seat in order to pick four adjacent seats for my family. Okay, not too big a deal. However, when I checked in the night before, I found that my “choice” seat was worthless, since they moved the other three seats all over the plane – all separated from one another. Eventually, she remedied the situation by paying more to reserve better “choice” seats. But it came at a price: Wallace says she paid $112 extra for the initial reservations and then another $180 after her “choice” seats were reshuffled. That’s on top of her $675 airfare. But the real seat problems happened on her return flight. “The flight was full, so there was no option to even purchase adjacent seats,” she says. The family was separated — one member was sent to row 35 and the others were in rows 8 and 9. “I asked the agents at the gate about getting seats together and they told me they could not help and to ask the flight attendants,” she says. “Of course, once on the plane, the flight attendants were of no help and we were told to ask passengers to swap seats.” She continues, My husband disappeared to his seat in row 35 while I hovered around rows 8 and 9 and reached out to passengers to swap seats. One was an even swap for one aisle seat to another aisle seat, so that was easy. Another woman was not willing at all to move over one seat so we could be adjacent and another by the window was not initially willing, but later changed her mind as I sent the one five-year-old to her seat between two strangers. So, to recap, Wallace paid the “choice” seat fee on her outbound leg, but the airline moved her seats anyway, forcing her to pay even more in order to sit with her family. Then, on the return, it didn’t offer her any “choice” seat options and separated the entire family again. And for at least a short amount of time, one of her five-year-old twins sat between two strangers. Wallace thinks the airline seat fees are out of control. “I am outraged that I can no longer expect to sit with my young children on a flight anymore,” she says. “We travel from one coast to the next at least three times a year. It is already expensive. Is there any way you could help me get either a refund for the extra fees — especially the ‘choice’ seats I never used?” Of course. I asked US Airways to review her case. Here’s what a representative said: Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We got with the customer … gave her some tips on how to book together, and offered a refund of her choice seat fees – which she accepted. As you know, we work really hard to accommodate families traveling together — whether with small kids or not — and the vast majority of the time it works out just fine. Then we can always try at the gate with no-shows or with other volunteers … lastly, on the aircraft itself. I’m happy this was resolved, but I’m troubled that this case even came to my attention. Airlines have long insisted that they won’t separate families, and that there’s no need for the government to regulate their seating policies. I’ve agreed with this position, citing a lack of evidence that young kids are being separated from their parents on planes. Wallace’s case makes me wonder if I’m on the right side of this argument. Should the government require airlines to seat families together? Yes. No. View Results Loading ... Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus Mark I could support mandating that children under 12 be seated next to a parent. But do we really need a law that husbands and wives be next to each other for their 2 hour flight? If you are so desperate to be next to somebody, then book your flight early enough that you can find two seats together. Don’t make everyone else jump around the plane, giving up the seats they chose when they booked early, just so you can hold hands over Milwaukee. LeeAnneClark I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a single person ask for a government mandate for husbands and wives to sit together, so I’m not really sure what the point is of your comment. LeeAnneClark I’ve been castigated and ripped several new ones for my previous comments on this blog saying that parents should have an absolute right to sit next to their young children. And I expect I will have several more orifices ripped into me for saying it again. But say it I will. The bare fact is that anyone who doesn’t believe that parents have an absolute, inalienable RIGHT to sit next to their young children on an aircraft has something seriously wrong with them. I was once separated from my young children on a coast-to-coast flight, AFTER I’d carefully selected seats together months prior…selections which were summarily ignored when my boarding passes were issued at the airport. This was before the days of being able to pay extra for “premium” seats (a misnomer if I ever heard one, for there is no such thing as a comfortable seat in coach.). The gate agent wouldn’t help me. The flight attendants ignored me. I begged and pleaded with the passengers, and no one would move. My children were 2 and 3! I finally stuck my 3-yr-old in between two strangers and said “fine, you take care of her.” And still neither would budge…instead one of them complained to the flight attendant, who angrily forcibly moved some other passengers so we could sit together. I will never understand how people can be so selfish and cold-hearted as to separate a parent and their young children. And those of you who will jump in here and tell me how you think *I’m* the one being selfish and demanding and a “special snowflake” – there is something wrong with you. Period. Children have a right to be with their parents on a flight. No child should be forced to spend hours with strangers. Can you imagine any other situation in life in which it would be considered acceptable to separate parents and young children, and forcibly stick the kids with strangers who want nothing to do with them, for hours at a time? And the parents should not have to pay extra for the right to keep their children safe and protected from strangers. This is not “entitlement”. This is not being a special snowflake. This is basic human decency, folks. These are CHILDREN! Their basic need to be with their parents and not be dangerously entrusted to strangers for hours trumps any of your desires for that prime window or aisle seat. Do you really feel like your comfort is more important than the basic safety of a small child? Queue up the castigations from the cold-hearted, selfish kid haters who think their marginal comfort takes precedence over the essential safety and health of LITTLE KIDS. Yup, you know who you are. http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly The math doesn’t add up here. On her initial flight, did she pay for 4 choice seats or just one ($67) or just two ($112)? Was it not available on the return flight at time of booking or because she waited too long? I’m all for parents sitting with children under 12. But the parents have to take some responsibility, whether it be alerting the airlines / paying for seats together (altho I think it should these fees should be waived for one parent + one child, not necessarily for “choice” seats but just seats together – kids don’t mind middle seats, right?) or arriving early enough to get seats together at check-in (probably the best option). What I do not want is for parents to arrive after most people have checked-in so now have to ask people who already got an assigned seat that they like to have to move and sit in an (more) uncomfortable middle seat. If I get assigned a middle seat initially, then fine. But if it’s important for parents to sit with children, then under present circumstances, they need to be proactive about it. If a law gets passed, then all the better, but until that happens, the onus remains on the parents. sdir I’d like to point out this affects more than just parents with young children. I am a “passenger of size” and therefore book two seats for the comfort of myself and fellow passengers. Nothing like booking in advance and being told I can’t get two seats together unless I pay an extra $65-$75 per seat for “premium” seating. So far I’ve been fortunate to get seats together, because I arrive to the airport early and ask them to rearrange the seat assignments. But I feel like I shouldn’t have to. I’m following the airline’s instructions when booking two seats for one individual, yet my seats are at opposing ends of the plane, unless I pay extra to reserve seating. dourdan from how i read the article, she paid for 4 tickets but when she saw where the seats were she paid 1 premium seat fee. BUT all that mean was she had 1 seat guaranteed and 3 that were “up for grabs.” i think a fair solution would be for there is be a “bulk rate” for reserved seats so that families (or vacation tours or even couples) can- with confidence book seats without fear of getting moved. sdir Something I’ve wondered, but don’t you enter the age of passengers during the booking process? So why can’t a booking system recognize there are children below age 12 and automatically reserve the seats to sit with the adult fare? http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly Hmmm. That is a dilemma. If you book two seats for yourself, seems reasonable that they should waive the premium seating charge or at least guarantee that the two seats are together. But kudos to you for arriving early to avoid the potential hassle! http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly One would think… Doesn’t sound too hard to implement. (And maybe put all the <12s + parents in the same section of the plane? or did I just go too far?) Grant Ritchie Hi, Sdir. From one “P.O.S.” to another, if it’ll work for you, try Southwest. I’m always boarded first, so I can sit wherever I please, and they give me a “seat reserved” sign to place on the seat beside me. Until last month, they would even refund my second fare if the plane wasn’t full. Then, on November 7, things got even better. Now, Southwest refunds the second fare even if the plane IS full. No “premium seat” nonsense, either. Try it… You’ll like it. :-) CeeJay I’m not a cold-heared selfish kid hater. But I choose my seat very carefully – I get airsick and claustrophobic, and it’s not a question of a marginal decrease in comfort – it’s a question of a barely tolerable flight vs absolute misery (I live so far away from everywhere that my flights are generally 11 hours +). Should you be able to sit with your little kids? Absolutely! But hate the system and the airline, not the other passengers. You don’t know what their reasons are for not wanting to move. Kiki Age of the passengers is really moot here…I have a special needs family member, and we cannot fly if we cannot sit together. We used to fly all the time, but lately it has just become too difficult to manage. The airlines would rather take my money and make promises, then NOT seat us together…and when the panic attack begins, they will not hesitate to kick us off the plane. We usually drive these days. TonyA_says Doesn’t the Air Carrier Access Act already require the airline to make reasonable accommodations for disabled passengers and their companions? That same law even allows passengers to take along emotional support animals. Seems to me your needs are covered and all you need to do is tell the airlines so they can accommodate you. $16635417 For the return flight….if it was so full that there was no option to purchase adjacent seats, how does the seat fee factor in? Had the airline NOT charged for pre-assigned seats in the first place, but allowed people to confirm seats at the time of booking at no extra charge, would the flight have NOT still been full? TonyA_says One possible explanation to the math problem: We sell ChoiceSeats by flight and the cost varies based on flight length, destination and time of day. For example, if you’re flying from Los Angeles to Philadelphia with a connection in Charlotte, you can buy a ChoiceSeat for the first flight to Charlotte and another ChoiceSeat for the second flight to Philadelphia. Raven_Altosk Did all four of them NEED to sit together? I’m sure it would’ve been easier to book a 2 and 2. I’ve seen it all on those annoying trips to my favorite destination. Just remember the family who was screaming at the gate agent that all 9 of them had to be in a row together or their “magical” vacation would be “ruined.” Y’know, because unless your on a Trip-7, that’s gonna happen. Glad the OP realized that an even swap aisle for aisle is the way to go. I hate it when I’m asked to move from my aisle seat to some middle to accommodate whatever configuration of people “need” to be together. Uh, no. You want my seat, swap the better one! …and “need” is in quotes because 8 times out of 10, it’s not a need, it’s a want for a better seat. TonyA_says I’m with you. I don’t understand why the airlines cannot solve this problem. They have all the means to do it. The rest of the free World rarely allows advanced seat assignments prior to online checkin so it is easier to accommodate families that need to sit together. Southwest’s boarding system seems to work. Oh I forget the real reason – GREED. When you get down to it, you will find that almost all big companies (including airlines) are owned by private equities and hedge funds who could not care less about our kids. TonyA_says All the USA has to do is look at how our neighbor to the North handles it. Air Canada was forced to change their policy because of the ruling on discriminating against customers of size. http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/specialneeds/specialseating.html TonyA_says Air France (voluntarily) sells the second seat at 25% discount with no tax. http://www.airfrance.us/US/en/common/guidevoyageur/assistance/particuliere_pfc.htm Perhaps we can learn something from the French :-) TonyA_says Good point. You must enter the date of birth of children under the rules. Also, you must comply by having them accompanied by an adult (as defined by the airline). So the airlines has all the information they need. The same is true for passengers of size who buy a second ticket. Technically a SSR message is generated to tell the airline about the extra seat requirement. All the above should make it easy for the airline to block the appropriate number of seats prior to checking in. Personally, I have absolutely no objections to airlines blocking seats for children and their adult companion, and for classifying obesity as a disability. There is a huge difference between accommodating people who need help versus giving all able passengers the priviledge to choose their seats. TonyA_says Nope you did not go too far. You just described the MYTH of self regulation in industry. Our airlines are too greedy and only government regulation will force them to do the right thing. (Note, this comment is coming from one who makes money selling airline tickets.) CarolinaLannes It seems to be more a husband problem than fees. If the rest of the family was on two rows, why didn`t the husband try to move to row 8 or 9 (whichever had only 1 member)? There’s absolutely zero need that the mother seats with both kids. They had both parents there, they could have worked something. I bet someone on row 39 might want to change to row 8 or 9 and leave the plane earlier. sweepergrl I’m with you. Parents and children should NEVER be separated. Going by age only (say, under the age of 10) is not wise, because that would exclude children who aren’t mature, those kids flying for the first time, and the special needs children. Honestly, it’s not rocket science, if the flights were booked together and there is an underage child, they automatically stay together. On a side note, who would be legally responsible for a child, if it is not sitting next to it’s parent? Would the complete strangers be responsible for keeping the child happy, fed, quiet and safe? Would it be the airline because they forcibly separated the parent and child? Should the parent run back and check every two minutes to make sure the child isn’t choking? john4868 Chris … I’m lost in the timeline. Did she book seats together on both flights or just the first? If she already paid for choice seats why did the airline charge her twice? What was the time between initial booking and finding the seats apart? Kevin Mathews I would say that the only exception to your rule here is last minute bookings where other paying customer have reserved seats and the only seats left are spread out. But if you book seats in advance, then there is absolutely no reason that an airline should ever separate a child and parent. Worse Case Scenario a family should ever see when traveling is the ariline splits the family up “evenly” so that one parent sits next to half the kids and the other parent with the other half of the kids. There should also be an option when reserving seats that instead of paying for special seats, pay an additional fee to guarentee seats next to each other, regardless of position on the plane… BillCCC I voted no, not because I think that families shouldn’t sit together but I do not want to see the government get involved in choosing seats for flights. I see a couple of ways of looking at it. If you want to sit together you should either pay for everyone to have a choice seat OR accept that no one in the group will have a choice seat but you will be seated together. IMHO there is no reason to separate a young child from their parent. It should not be allowed. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott Looks like she booked roundtrip tickets and then there was an equipment change. The reseating program probably didn’t keep the family together, so in order to get seats together, they had to pay for an additional choice seat. calbff You’re absolutely right. There seems to be an abnormally large amount of kid haters here – their attitude is disgusting. By separating, you are rendering a parent unable to provide the care that they are required to give to their child. This is unacceptable in every sense, moral and legal. You would think the airlines would be terrified about the poential liabilities if anything were to transpire while a child is separated. Following that logic, I think it’s acceptable to split a family into 2 and 2, but there is no way in hell that I would allow my child to sit alone with strangers. andrelot There are two intermingled issues here. One is that choice seat assignments that had been paid for were ignored. The airline should be responsible for guaranteeing people who paid to be seated next to each other to keep so even if they have to re-assign the seats (+ refunding any seat assignment fee). The other issue is whether people travelling together should have an expectation of a “right” to be sit next to each other. My answer is no. Paying more for seat assignments so that parents and children, spouses, person and disabled/very elderly relative, person and travel companion in need of medical help are all seat together should be just part of the costs enticed by having a family, a disability, some emotional attachment that will be broken if God forbids your 20-year wife is sit 10 rows away for 5 or 6h etc. So, in a nutshell: parents should just be expected to pay to be sit next to their children, but airlines should be deemed responsible to keep them together should anything change on their flight. john4868 Ok… That’s what I was guessing but in my experience your “upgraded” seat is either protected during an equipment change or refunded. I guess that’s why I got lost. It is a lesson learned for parents that you need to keep checking back for schedule updates. My family is flying between Christmas and New Years (I know I’m a glutton for punishment) and we’ve had so many schedule changes in the year since I booked the ticket, I eventually started checking even Saturday morning (the airline puts updates in on Friday night). I’ve had to get on the phone twice with the airline when they decided to move one of my twins to a different part of the aircraft. andrelot @TonyA_says:disqus I think you are mistaken about the “rest of the World”. In Europe, paying for seat assignments is fairly common. So is paying for it in Australia and New Zealand. Raven_Altosk I’m not a kid hater and I agree that kids under 10 need to be seated with their parents. HOWEVER, when the parents (or any travelers) are unreasonable, that’s where I have a problem. I will trade my aisle seat for your aisle seat, but don’t ask me to shove myself into a window so you can sit in the aisle holding hands with your spouse sits across in the other aisle, while your unruly kid sit in the middle seat. C’mon now. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. You can thank that family above for my firm stance on not relocating unless it is a very obvious need. andrelot I don’t think parents and young child (until 8-9 years) should be separated, but I also don’t think parents shouldn’t be expected to pay for it not happening. It should be a cost of travelling with kids. I’m not a “child-hater”, but I think having a child doesn’t make their parents entitled to get freebies and special accommodations just because they have a cute kid with them. andrelot Your idea (having a fee for guaranteeing adjacent seating, even if non-specific) is a good one, indeed. Raven_Altosk Tony, ESAs are a joke. Just remember, I got to sit next to an “ESA” snake. SNAKES ON A PLAAAAANE. TonyA_says Andre, it’s not about PAYING, it’s about ADVANCED SEAT ASSIGNMENTS for their domestic (and some regional) flights. Since seating assignments is usually only open during check in (including online checkin OLCI), then the earlier requests (SSRs) for special seating can be accommodated prior to general seat assignment. Sorry if I left out Australia and New Zealand as part of the free world. Michelle Something needs to be done, not only for the families, but also for the people that get shuffled around with the current system. I recently flew alone and decided, for the first time ever, to treat myself and upgrade my seat. It wasn’t first class, but one of the roomier seats in the front. A mom also bought one of these for herself, but apparently not for her two kids. Another passenger and I were pressured to move to the back so her kids could move up to the upgraded seats. No effort was made for her to move back to where her two children were seated. So the other passenger and I threw money out the window because we couldn’t say no to keeping a family together. TonyA_says hahaha, I purposely put that there thinking I could provoke you into commenting more. I am beginning to miss your comments. TonyA_says Simple question: was this ever a [big] problem before airlines started charging for seat assignments? TonyA_says Probably could have been handled better if the FAs did it for them. joan newcomb re: the person by the window unwilling to switch seats – the mom should have left the two five year olds with *her* and gone off to the seat between two strangers! disqus_A6K3VBf8Zn I hate to bring in government. On the level between states, is the federal, the appropriate one? Congress keeps cutting back monies to the airlines to do this. Who is going to pay? MarkKelling Because row 8 & 9 is a much better location on a plane than row 35 – closer to the front so you get off the plane sooner and the seats in the back end of the plane are actually narrower than the rows further to the front. Asking someone in row 35 to move to row 8 would probably have a much better chance than the other way. MarkKelling I am not a child hater. I would be much happier that parents always sit with their children on a plane even though I have sat next to some young children who were much better behaved than many adults on those same flights. But tell me why, every time someone wants to swap seats so they can sit together, it is always the person in a window seat in row 40 that wants the aisle seat in row 5 and not the other way? I would be willing to bet that anyone seated in the back of the plane would be very willing to move closer to the front so that those wanting to sit together would be able to – in row 40. TonyA_says I think that kids (with no disability) old enough to be in middle school should be able to withstand (or prefer) not being with mom or dad for a few hours. It’s the moms (and perhaps dads) that are the ones worried. Jeanne_in_NE I don’t know jack about choice seat reservations on US Airways, but 67 is a prime number. I figure that’s the price for one choice seat. 112 – 67 = 45, which comes out to $15 for each of the other 3 seats Ms. Wallace wanted. Could those have been the fees for aisle or window seating, but not necessarily in specific rows? Only way I can think of why only one seat assignment worked out, but the others were moved? I thought the way the fee worked was that all parties that wanted specific seating (row #, seat placement) had to pay the choice seating fee, so the fee Ms. Wallace should have paid was $67 x 4. I know that United requires that if one party in a reservation pays for choice seating, all parties on all legs are required to pay for choice. I’m not clear on exactly what happened on the flights – did the OP’s choice seat move or did the other 3 seats get moved? I think (and have said before) that the real problem is that the REAL price of flights isn’t the advertised air fare. Like a middle seat next to the bulkhead? Great, that’s what you bought. Want/need an aisle seat? That’s extra. Want an aisle seat close to the front? That’s extra. Want an aisle seat with enough pitch that you can walk upon deplaning? That’s extra. Want to choose who sits next to you? That’s extra. This is the natural result of “unbundling” baggage, meals, blankets, etc. Jeanne_in_NE I’ll trade seats with you. TonyA_says Mark, isn’t the problem really that airlines SELL the front of the cabin as choice seats now whereas before they used to be reserved for people with young children, infants, and handicaps? By going back to the OLD way, the problem is solved. http://twitter.com/alaskatravelgrm Scott McMurren I think this clearly is a case of USAir needing to remedy its own policies rather than a clarion call for regulating seat fees. USAir will not do away with seat fees. They’re going to mine this mother lode for a long time. And that’s OK. What’s NOT OK is the bait-n-switch of coming back for additional $$$ once the deal is done. The seat map, combined with families’ honest requests for adjacent seating, is a real opportunity for USAir to demonstrate a little compassion. That said, USAir always has been willing to push fees right up to the bleeding edge ($2 for water, etc.). TonyA_says Pay for what? Is there an added cost to treat families with young children better? Seat assignment can be and is computerized if the airlines just use their existing systems capabilities (i.e. Departure Control Systems). This is a greed issue. The airlines want to collect EXTRA FEES. Jeanne_in_NE I’m still confused. Did the equipment change both outbound and return segments? In other words, when she bought her tickets, was she able to purchase adjacent seating on the return flight, or was the plane too full at that point in time for her to do so? Or did that problem only occur after the equipment change? Raven_Altosk But it doesn’t include people of height. So, if you’re a heifer who can’t control their trips to the buffett and can’t be bothered to walk–instead riding on your government supplied fatty scooter–you get a better seat. If you just happen to be 6’8″ and don’t fit in a coach seat…well…NO SOUP FOR YOU! BlondieDC I don’t think it is a passenger’s responsibility to switch seats to accommodate someone else’s children. I don’t think anyone should ask the Flight Attendant to help–during boarding, we are so busy getting a flight out on time, and you can ask your neighbors just as easily as I can ask. (I steer clear of that mess, for sure, anyway!) And, I don’t think the government needs to be involved in this! The airline should automatically offer seats together when booking kids/families. Since you have to input the age online, they can develop an algorithm to make it happen. The airlines just like charging more money where they can. Raven_Altosk Just remember the nutter who wanted me moved out of an exit row aisle because I might “rape” her daughter. Y’know, cuz I’ve got boy parts and her 16 yr old daughter was seated next to me. Obvs this cow just wanted my awesome seat. But wow, what a witch. Raven_Altosk I would demand a refund from the airline for this. dave3029 It’s been a few years since I’ve flown, but I seem to recall that my solution to the problem of other people and their seats has been the same. Once I get to my seat, I put in my earbuds, turn on my music, close my eyes and sleep. I don’t wake up until the flight lands or the FA wakes me for food/beverage. http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly Forget the airline! I would’ve asked for it from the mom. Then she could’ve gotten it back from the airline. CarolinaLannes That’s why I refuse to change upgraded seats. And by that, I mean any seat with a perk I paid for. So, equal trades. Window for window, aisle for aisle, etc. Once I was traveling with a younger sister, long travel and didn’t want her to seat alone. Due to my milleage, I was upgraded to one of those “economy plus”. She wasn’t. I offered the guy seating next to her to change his seat for my economy plus seat. Of course, he was ok. What that mom should have done is the same: trade her better seat for a seat with her kids. Not force the other way around. SoBeSparky Flying the cheapest of the world’s cheap airlines, a passenger thinks she is entitled to respect after trying to unsuccessfully scam the airline by sneaking an oversized bag on board. Another passenger feels the seas should be smooth sailing 24/7/365, no matter weather or other freak occurances. Finally, a family of 4 feels it is entitled to sit together during the busiest travel days of the year, while apparently not following common holiday-travel advice. All of them want compensation, naturally. Put this in another perspective. Today it is the family’s choice to travel on the busiest days of the year. It is the family’s choice to pick when to book. It is the family’s choice to pick the exact flights and seats. After all these independent choices, the family did not end up with the desired result of sitting together, so they blame an airline. How about blaming themselves, similar to an experienced traveler who would when the customer ends up on the last flight of the day with tight connections in the wintertime…an incredibly high probability of an unsatisfactory experience. Many travel columnists remind families in June and July to make Thanksgiving-Christmas flight reservations. JD Powers reminds travelers that US Airways is the bottom-ranked legacy airline in customer satisfaction. Other horror stories on holiday travel suggest larger families just stay home. We do not have sufficient details as to why, “I found that my “choice” seat was worthless, since they moved the other three seats all over the plane – all separated from one another.” Was this because of a schedule change, an equipment change and when was it done? Many times these changes give customers an ability to reschedule or change seats when they contact customer service personally. Apparently this was not done. As for the return, when did she know about the seat problem? Families should accept the probability that four or more cannot sit together. It is much more realistic to expect a family be divided 2-2, 2-3 and 3-3, with a parent accompanying a child. This seems to be a planning problem. When you make certain choices, your chances of success become less. Most experienced travelers follow these rules to minimize the problems: 1. Make early reservations on a higher quality airline with reasonable expectations. 2. Monitor those reservations often. 3. When an airline makes an involuntary change to your reservation, contact them immediately, not the day of the flight or at the airport. http://www.jeffkolkerart.com Jeff Kolker I have had the situation where I’ve preferred to change to sit next to my spouse. I always try to make sure the person I trade with gets the better of the deal, to make it more likely they will switch. Personally, I’d gladly take the middle or window and give up an aisle seat if I can sit next to my wife. Giving up a good seat for a poorer seat but next to your loved one makes the likelyhood of switching much more likely. CarolinaLannes So they only had one upgraded ticket, and the rest was “wishful thinking”? Andrew W. The government shouldn’t have to require this, but poor policy decisions by the airlines and the populist mood of the country may lead to to more government regulation. I fear that as more and more people equate civil society with government, corporate and individual citizens will substitute self control and try to do whatever laws and regulations allow. cowboyinbrla Actually, I don’t recall the “front” seats being reserved for people with young children, infants or handicaps. I could see the last – to make it easier for the disabled to get on and off the plane. But if we’re going to save seats in blocks for families, put them at the back. Or go back to the system we REALLY need, which is that everyone can reserve a specific seat, within his or her price class (ie economy, economy plus, first, whatever) when purchasing – with no extra fee for the “privilege” of knowing what your seat number is going to be. (And on that note: if I were the FAA, I would mandate that whenever there’s an equipment change that requires rearranging of seats – I’ve had that twice recently – everyone’s “seat selection” fees are automatically voided and returned to them AT THE TIME OF THE FLIGHT, not 6 to 8 weeks later. Maybe the cost of processing all those refunds in a hurry would help them see the light that this “fee” is a money grab not worth the risk for them. TonyA_says LOL, how about free yoga lessons. maybe the folded legs technique works. Or, better still, super tall people adopt a (tiny) emotional support animal so they can have 2 seats. http://www.facebook.com/mg194 Mark Gregory I wanted to vote “No”, but I was once put in the situation of having to beg another passenger to swap seats so I could sit with my 3 year old daughter. It’s a very bad idea to have this stuff in the hands of passengers. If they don’t want to handle seating arrangements they might as well make the drink carts self-service and ditch the flight attendants all together. TonyA_says Maybe the TSA can solve this problem, Ha ha ha … TonyA_says You see, That’s the problem. There are more ABUSERS than those who really need help. So the airline does not want to be the judge and figured out it is better to sell the seat to the highest bidder. Truly dysfunctional just like Washington DC. cowboyinbrla How much “care” does a twelve-year old child need on a 90-minute flight? Do parents stay glued to their children, 24/7/365, except for the brief periods on a flight? What about when the kids are on a school bus? In school? Obviously, the younger the kids and the longer the flight, the more need for a parent to sit with the children. But the argument that every child, every flight, needs to be within a non-extended arm’s reach of a parent is a bit over the top. TonyA_says Nothing that an iPad cannot solve. ExplorationTravMag Raven, OH MY GAWD, what an awful thing to say! I dare say you wouldn’t call me or anyone else a “heifer” to our face so why, for the love of all that’s holy, would you do it on here????? I, too, am a person of size. I don’t need two seats yet but I fear it might be in my future. However, my weight issues aren’t a result of my being a person “who can’t control their trips to the buffet and can’t be bothered to walk” but because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and can no longer do the things I used to do to stay fit. At one time, I was a thin 165 to 170 (and before you say it, I’m 6′ 1″) and played all sorts of sports, coached my kid’s sports teams, could do 2 hours on an elliptical and swam a hundred laps three times a week. Now, I can’t do any of those things and it’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because I’m sick. Add to that, I take steroids for my RA when I’m in the midst of a flareup, which also causes me to have problems. I hope you’re never diagnosed with a serious illness that prevents you from exercising so you gain an appreciable amount of weight. If so, I’ll be the first one in line to call you a “fat heifer” and love every second of it. You’re an ass, all the way, and you owe ALL of us here on the board a tremendous apology. Jeanne_in_NE After much consideration, I decided I had to vote “no”. I thought about a situation that LeeAnne had talked about in a prior column devoted to this issue, where she and small children had to attend a funeral, which meant that she had to book tickets at the last minute. What would such government regulation mean? Let’s say that the possible flights are pretty full by the time booking has to be made. The regulated airline ticketing algorithm would require that the children be kept together with an adult. But there isn’t any available seating in the required configuration, but there are individual seats scattered throughout the cabin. With the current seating fees, all aisle and window seats come at a premium – and get sold first, leaving only middle seats open and available for re-assignment. The algorithm would return a result that no tickets would be available. The family would not be able to attend the funeral. Or, the only remaining seats in the required configuration would be the more expensive choice seats. The family would face higher fares if they accept the tickets. IMHO, that’s fair, but would the family accept the higher cost? Most likely not, based on the stories CE has posted on this topic. If the government requires that those choice seats be sold at the base fare, no additional fee for choice seating, in order to keep the family together, then the airline is going to have to factor that in to their pricing and charge non-families who choose choice seating more money in order to recoup their revenue. In other words, the other passengers would end up subsidizing family seating. I don’t think that will fly. Jim Daniel WHY I voted NO. The Government is already poking it’s nose into far too much of what we do. Instead, I suggest that those who have this happen seek financial revenge for this activity. Sue them for the small amount that was overpaid, on the court date, call the media and show them those cute, if rambunctious, twins. Make your case outside the courtroom clearly and sucinctly, “They charged me for special seating, stole my money, and refuesd to help me once on board the plane. Small claims counrt is JUST what this case needs. IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the airline will offer you an equitable settlement before the court date. Daddydo The airline contract is for a seat, not an assigned seat. Luck? Pay for? Demand? none of these are in the contract of purchasing an airline seat. United chose to give their premium seats to a family of 2 adults and 2 children in the premium seats on 12/3 from Seattle to Washington Dulles. The passengers buying the seats paid $59.00 per person, they got it for free. The child screamed 3 1/2 hours while mom and dad played with their pads. No seats are not guaranteed. I know that there is something amiss in this story. When where the reservations booked? For a person booking a holiday flight, 6 months should be on their minds especially if they go 3 times per year. USAir does have seats available “free” when booked in advance. 99.999% of my clients have pre-assigned seats at the time of reservations. The known airline for advance seating is Airtran / Merged with Southwest and they charge up front. If you are booking reservations within the last 2 months of the flight, expect to pay for your seats during the holiday season. Now, I like extra legroom, extra hip room, extra special boarding, then purchase premium seating at your own discretion. http://twitter.com/elegant_erica Erica Richardson I’m one of those nutty annoying Libertarians who *should* agree with you; however, without a push from regulations I don’t see any improvement in situations like this. Without driving across country, you can’t take your business elsewhere as most airlines I have encountered recently behave like this… RIP Continental. Separating a minor child from a parent and/or guardian should be viewed as a liability risk, yet the airlines do not view it as their responsibility. The OP did pay for choice seats, as would be my initial choice on how to deal with this situation; it didn’t work. The preferred solution would be to not allow separation as a company policy, but in all honestly I don’t see that happening without being forced to do so by the government… and I *loathe* saying that. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott Please, folks. Let’s stick to the topic at hand. This isn’t a post about people of size. pauletteb Get over yourself! JimDavisHouston Raven; Out of respect for Chris’ column, I will hold my comments of what I think about you. You obviously have some growing up to do. You’re comment should be deleted. JimDavisHouston This problem not only affects the Families, but it affects people like me. The Single Business Traveler. I pick my aisle seats carefully on every flight. Many times, I’m asked to swap with families, and many times I’m looking at a crappy middle seat. this “Preimum Seat” BS has to stop. TonyA_says I suppose this is not a problem on Southwest since families with small children will board after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group and Southwest has open seating (no seat assignments). It looks fair – if you want to be in the A group, then you need to pay or be super loyal. If you want to be in the B group, arrive early. The Southwest method works even if you buy a ticket on the day of the flight. So there IS a solution that works. What the DOT can do is require the airlines to adopt the Southwest Boarding Scheme (or similar) OR ELSE BLOCK A SUFFICIENT amount of seats that will guarantee that families with small children can seat together WITHOUT PAYING ANOTHER FEE. This whole ancillary fee thing is the cause of the problem. Here is a seat map for USAir Flight US153 on 08NOV 2013 PHL-SAN. The seats code “P” means PERMANENTLY BLOCKED. “V” means Preferred, and “T” means Choice Of the 138 seats only 8 are blocked for special needs. Also note the “P” seats are not all together. In my opinion this airline never even planned to sit families with small children together. Why? Because there is no law or rule that they have to. As you can see, almost all the seats in front are now for sale to those who can afford. Y A B C D E F Y 04 P V V V V V 04 05 V P P V N V 05 06 T T T T N T 06 07 T T T T T T 07 08 V N V T N V 08 09 V N V W P P N 09 10 E E E W E E E E 10 11 E E E W E E E E 11 12 N N T W T N N 12 13 N N N W N N N 13 14 N N N W N N N 14 15 N N N W N N N 15 16 N N N N N N 16 17 N N N N N N 17 18 N N N N N N 18 19 N N N N N N 19 20 N N N N N N 20 21 N N N N N N 21 22 N N N N N N 22 23 N N N N N N 23 24 N N N N N N 24 25 N N N N N N 25 26 N N N P P P 26 .-TAKEN B-BLKD U-UNUSABLE S-SMOKE N-NOSMOKE I-INDIF E-EXIT W-WING A-ADVANCED H-HELD P-PERMBLKD V-PREFER Q-BULKHEAD T-CHOICE J I voted no because most families don’t need to sit together. Plenty of parents want their 5 or 6 year olds to fly alone to visit grandma. I think that there should maybe be a rule where a child under 5 or 6 can only be assigned a seat next to 1 adult in their party, but there otherwise doesn’t not need to be a requirement that the entire family be seated together, or that an 8 year old sit with parents instead of strangers. Traveling involves strangers, stay home if your school age child can’t be apart from you for a few hours on a domestic flight. pauletteb I haven’t seen anyone requesting a government mandate for husbands and wives to sit together either, but I’ve seen PLENTY of whinging on this site from separated couples who feel other passengers should give up their seats to accommodate their (the couple’s) failure to book early enough or willingness to pay for a better reserved seat. Glare at me all you want, honey; I’m not moving! Roger Miller Agreed. Raven’s comment is out of line. This person has serious issues. Chris, you should delete it. Raven_Altosk Yup, we are seen as easy pickin’s. I just refuse unless they can give me a comproable seat or in the very, very, rare occassion that it is a serious need and no other options. (Like three times in my life) pauletteb No, YOU’RE the one with the problem! The fact that you label everyone who disagrees with you a “selfish kid hater” just proves how over the line you are. An “absolute right” to sit next to your children? Please! I’m a parent myself and would never dream that I had the right to inconvenience someone else because of my poor planning. The main problem with kids today is their parents’ attitudes regarding their little darlings and their own overweening self-importance. Brats rearing brats! Raven_Altosk …they still have codes for Smoking? ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME!??!? atlmom10 Be careful what you wish for. You *really* want congress to pass a law? Do you REALLY think they have nothing better to do? I don’t agree with what the airlines are doing, but seriously, our idea that ‘there oughta be a law’ for everything is absurd. Jeanne_in_NE I wholeheartedly agree that “This whole ancillary fee thing is the cause of the problem.” I don’t totally agree with blocking out areas for family seating, but I haven’t had a chance to ponder it. The first question that comes to mind is, “At what point are those blocked seats released?”, followed by “Is there a chance that the airlines would lose revenue doing that, so where would they make up potential lost revenue?” Finally, I’ve never been able to fly Southwest (timing of booking, availability of flights/destinations, etc.), so I’m not familiar with seat pitch and the like. The advantage of paying for choice or preferred seating is that I can pick a seat that my husband can sit in without distress. Would “A” seating do something similar for him and all the others that have specific seat requirements. If so, hey, I’m all for it, and problem solved. Except as I pointed out before, that means fares go up for all passengers, since the airlines couldn’t pre-sell and charge extra for those aisle and window seats. I wouldn’t mind; I think the base fares are a “come-on” as currently advertised (see previous response to Fly, Icarus, Fly ) Raven_Altosk Agreed. Cash in hand if you want my seat, lady! :D TonyA_says I thought that was for Legalized Marijuana :-) Raven_Altosk My issues stem from being shoved into a seat next to a 400lb dude who needed two but the airline let him board anyway. This was yesterday. I have yet to regain the feeling in my arm from this large person leaning on me. Jeanne_in_NE Raven, I normally adore your snarkiness. But to quote you, “who peed in your Cheerios this morning?” Your comment was past snarky. I expect better of you. Raven_Altosk I’ll apologize to you, but not for the “government issues scooters.” You want to know how many of those I saw in MCO this week?!?!? It’s like Di$ney is now just a playground for them!!! …And some idiot hit me from behind because she obviously had no idea how to drive the thing!!! LeeAnneClark Yup, right on queue. You’ve gotta be kidding me. 5 year olds, traveling alone? Any parent who would send a 5 yr old alone on a plane should have their heads examined. No responsible parent would send a 5 yr old alone on a plane. But even if they did – parents pay extra for unaccompanied minors, supposedly so the child will be monitored and cared for by the flight attendants. (Not that I think that actually happens, but that’s the idea.) They aren’t just dumping the kid on the aircraft and expecting unsuspecting strangers to care for him. Whereas in the scenario in this article, the kids were forcibly separated from their parents against their will. But I doubt that you, or those like you on this blog, can really see the difference. It’s a disheartening statement on the state of humanity. Oh, and by the way, NOBODY is suggesting that the whole family sit together. All we want is to make sure each child has one parent. That’s all. I’m tired of seeing everyone deny the basic requirement by suggesting we want more. We don’t. But I had my 3-YEAR-OLD stuck in a middle seat between two strange men! Anyone who thinks that’s acceptable is a heartless creep. atlmom10 because the government has shown such great judgement up til now? because they’re doing such a bang up job? It would be lovely if our government worked as well as people hoped it would, but it doesn’t. Raven_Altosk You’re obvs new here. bodega3 i voted no and the reason is for all the other passengers who booked well in advance have their seats then a last minute family booking requires everyone to move because the government says their rights supercede the others? And if you have this law to airline seating, what about other seating venues? Kick someone out of the prepaid concert seat? At a restaurant? Not hardly!! Raven_Altosk No worries. I just made some n00bs uncomfortable downthread. See, when I come back, I come back with a bang! TonyA_says Please note that it is NOT SPACE that is blocked, just the seating assignments. The rule can be 72-48 hours prior. OR, whenever the airline allows for OLCI (online check in) but no earlier than 48 hours. That will allow families to get priority in getting BLOCKED seats. After the time embargo, all bets are off :-) (unless the kid is handicapped, of course). atlmom10 i was on southwest and checked in clearly too ‘late’ – so I got a late number. When I got on the plane, there were zero seats next to each other (and all empty seats were in the middle). SO – someone had to move TO a middle seat. Because I was with my 7 YO. Yes, he could have sat alone, but that wouldn’t have been good for anyone. Raven_Altosk The 400lb dude who sat ON me last night on my flight and the idiots riding those scooters who can’t drive them and hit me from behind. …I’m gonna go do some actual work now. :P tio2girl You do enter the age of passengers during the booking process. As a parent of 2 small children, I can tell you that their ages have no affect on the seating assignments. So far, we’ve always been able to sit together in a way that a parent was with each child. The flight staff is usually pretty accommodating before hand, and passengers are usually helpful rearranging. I think that this is generally the norm – most people are willing to help in a situation like this, and who wants to be stuck next to a scared and potentially bratty child with no parental supervision? – but clearly not the rule. JimDavisHouston Been following Chris for a few years. Flying on business since 1967. Nothing else to say on this “off topic” matter. Raven_Altosk Yeah, I don’t think any airline accepts 5 yo as UnAC minor….so J’s arguement is moot. atlmom10 they *should* but what if you’re on a plane? Do you then pull out the federal regulations and show them to the FA? what is it that one is supposed to do? One can call customer service 100 times before the flight, but what happens when one is on the plane is up to the FA, no questions asked, really. atlmom10 (only if they hadn’t already put their carry on luggage in the back and would have to go get it after the plane has landed :) Jeanne_in_NE Agreed. Of course, someone posted just a few minutes ago that she was flying on Southwest and arrived late and had to force someone to move to a middle seat so that she and her 7 year old could sit together. *sigh* There really doesn’t seem to be a hard-and-fast solution to this problem, does there? atlmom10 right – parents should be able to say: I want X number of seats together, but not necessarily pick *which* seats, right? CarolinaLannes Hmm… couldn’t you seat behind him, on another middle seat? I believe by 7 most kids can feed themselves. Plus, you checked in too late. Why should other people *have to* move? atlmom10 wow. the airlines used to give people discounts for tickets for people under 15 (I think that was the age). Why would I have to pay MORE for my child? What freebies are people asking for? SHE PAID FOR THE SEATS TO BE TOGETHER. atlmom10 wow, are you offering to get them for families who travel? Raven_Altosk I’ll behave myself…just had a terrible flight last night…and nearly got killed in the airport by those rental scooters. CarolinaLannes Nops. She paid for *one* seat to be a premium one. The other three were left to luck. And, as far as I understood it, she only paid that for the inbound leg of the flight. For the return ticket, she counted on luck alone. JimDavisHouston I honestly wouldn’t classify your case as a “Premimum Seat” issue. I suggest if you get into the same situation in the future with WN, use their Business First option. A few dollars more gets you a low boarding number. CarolinaLannes Well, shouldn’t the parents make sure their kids have something to do during the filght? Regardless of where (or whith whom) they are seating. bodega3 Yeah they do and if we long sell for a seat we have to put in NS. Silly! Lindabator Families often assume husband, wife, teenagers, etc ALL have to be seated together – and therein would lie the problem — here I see 2 adults and 2 children — have 2 seats together and another 2 together and I don’t see a problem — they should just reserve the final 2 rows for families not pre-assigned. Would eliminate this problem. Lindabator And that is MY pet peeve! A family wanted to be seated together does NOT mean they have to be at the front!!! SoBeSparky Why would you buy a three-year-old’s ticket after seeing the seat assignment of a single seat between two strangers? Makes no sense to me. You were buying a ticket with no seat assigned? Seems like the same thing, a small kid sandwiched between two strangers. No one gives you a right on a specific flight with a specific airline for two adjoining seats guaranteed, just like Macy*s will not guarantee your style in your size. Shop around. Find the airline and flight where you can get your two adjoining seats assigned when booking. P.S. There were two adults and two children on the PHL-SAN r/t booking. A much more feasible 2-2 seating strategy could have been pursued, rather than thinking four seats would be “guaranteed” on the busiest travel day of the year. bodega3 There were only middle seats, so you made two people move so you and your son could both have aisle seats because YOU were late in checking in? Unbelievably rude! bodega3 No kidding. The expectations of some just blow me away! Lindabator Actually – the back of the plane used to be family territory, and the front for frequent fliers. (The idea was, business fliers had light items, and families carried on much more – this would make deplaning much faster for all) bodega3 Why should someone give up their preassigned seat because you purchased a ticket on a flight that didn’t have the needed seat assignments you needed? Would you expect this at a concert or a play, too, or would you not buy those tickets? I think the latter but yet you expect it on a flight? Lindabator Why should they need to, though? They are there to assure the safety of those onboard, not have to police a situation that SHOULD have been handled before they ever boarded — the gate agents need to be more pro-active, and have a section to assign in cases such as this. Lindabator I see one big problem here – THANKSGIVING travel. I don’t think waiting until there are no choices left gives anyone a warm fuzzy here – and due to changes, I never assume that seat is even mine – so avoid the Holidays like a plague! (Hate to say it, but she should have kept checking up on these, knowing she had a family of 4) bodega3 But there may not be seats together to reserve. Then what? Move preassisgned passengers? http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott Could you please explain why the moderation team should consider deleting his comment? $16635417 Not cool. My kids sat alone in similar situations. You didn’t say if your child had any special needs or requirements so I’d have to assume not. Kris How do the airlines get away with this? When I buy 4 concert or theater tickets, they sell me seats that are next to each other. They don’t sell me 4 seats in far flung corners of the arena. Kris I should add that’s assuming there are seats next to each other. JimDavisHouston Actually, Chris, I would agree to delete *all* Off topic Comments, simply because we’re wandering away from the actual issues in the column. aj4coco There is a solution to her problem, at least. Either pay the $10 Early Bird fee, or accept that you’re going to be unhappy with your seats. The Early Bird checkin will get you in to the A group or early B group when you check in online 24 hours before flight. Basically, because she arrived late, she missed out on the first boarding spots. $16635417 I have 2 concert tickets for next summer. (Me and my 12 yo daughter.) I had the choice online of getting two seats, not together (Same seat number, but two rows back.) …or none at all. I chose the two singles. It does happen at concerts. Jennifer Minchau Re-Read her previous post…. “I was once separated from my young children on a coast-to-coast flight, AFTER I’d carefully selected seats together months prior…selections which were summarily ignored when my boarding passes were issued at the airport.” bodega3 But you made the decision to buy them and I assume you don’t expect someone to switch with you once you are there. bodega3 Sounds like she didn’t keep on top of her reservation once ticketed. Schedule changes, aircraft changes will often find seats removed or others assigned. cjr001 ” then book your flight early enough that you can find two seats together.” My wife and I do this all the time. However, on a recent flight home, for some unexplained reason, our airline decided to split us up. My wife’s seat remained the same, and they moved me another 10 rows away. Oddly enough, a seat in the row in front of her was empty, so we moved my seat to that, then negotiated with the person behind me/next to her, window seat for window seat, since they were traveling alone. In the end, there was no good reason to split us up, yet they just did it. So, even if you book early and get to pick your seats, NOTHING is guaranteed. Much of the problem remains with the airlines. They basically force you to pay extra for a majority of the seats now, and even if you pay those fees, you can still find yourself on the other side of the plane from where you booked. I generally don’t sympathize with families in these situations, but the whole industry blows goats and treats everybody like crap. It should NOT take the government to do something about this, but apparently it will. y_p_w I’ve definitely done that before at a performance venue. Ticketmaster and other ticket sellers don’t have the option, but there is some software that allows it. Before I could get “scattered singles” only at the venue or through an authorized reseller. They still typically use old monochrome CRTs and the seating charts come up as rows of text. I booked two tickets at home for a concert with newer website software. The website allow me to click on a selected seat and click again to deselect. I could even book seats in different price ranges. When it came time, we actually asked around, and traded our orchestra center seat for an orchestra right seat (had no face value too) and we were all happy. However, we were willing to give up a better seat rather than expect that someone else would give up a better seat. In fact, this is typically what airlines have these days. However, they do note that ticket selection isn’t necessarily guaranteed until check-in. $16635417 Absolutely! Michele Wallukait Rajput This mother was trying to scam the system. She booked one “choice” seat for $67 and expected the other three seats to be adjacent. She should have booked all four tickets the same and it’s easiest to accommodate families if they divide into adult/child pairs. $16635417 I have two “scattered singles” that I selected on Ticketmaster for next summer. My choices were: that option, buy through a broker ($$$) or don’t go. I chose the two singles at face value and don’t expect anyone to move to accommodate us to sit together. We’ll sit apart, but close. LeeAnneClark I personally don’t think you should delete Raven’s comment – or any of the comments about POS seating issues. It’s all related to the same thing – the horrible situation the airlines have created by allowing pay-for-premium seating. I do think that Raven went too far in his demeaning comments about people of size, insinuating that all overweight people are that way due to their own laziness. I’m sure even he knows that’s not true, and his comment was cruel. But like him, I too have found myself trapped next to a person who legitimately should have had to pay for two seats…to the point where I was only able to use about half of my own seat. I’m not going to cast aspersions on the overweight person, or speculate how he ended up so overweight…not my business. But the bottom line is that I didn’t get the seat I paid for. I got half of it. The airline should have done something, and not forced me to give up half MY space. These are all valid issues with respect to how airlines manage seat assignments. LeeAnneClark Yes. Airlines have always taken the liberty of moving seat assignments around, even if you pre-reserve. This happened to me years ago when my kids were tiny – as I described in an earlier comment. They stuck my 3-yr-old in between two men, neither of whom was willing to move. But I think the problem is bigger now…you are more likely to have your pre-selected seat changed if someone comes along and pays extra for a premium seat. LeeAnneClark I tried that. My 3 yr old was stuck between two men, neither of whom were willing to give up their aisle or window seat. I begged and pleaded, and finally just stuck her there and waited. Both of them complained loudly to the flight attendant, who then angrily forced two OTHER people in a middle row to move, so I could sit with my 2 & 3 yr olds. And everyone was pissed off at ME, so I got dagger-eyes for the rest of the flight. For what? Having the nerve to travel with my children? And wanting to take care of them and not stick them with strangers for a 5 hour flight? It’s a sad statement on the state of humanity. BillCCC I really don’t think that a Libertarian would suggest that the government jump into this area. I can just imagine the thousands of pages of legislation that would be required to take into account the different seating configurations of aircraft along with the potential combinations of family members involved. LeeAnneClark Wrong, wrong, wrong. My seat assignments never changed. I didn’t discover the move until I got to the airport and was issued boarding passes. LeeAnneClark Try reading my post. I DID pre-select my seats. MONTHS in advance. We were seated together. I didn’t discover they’d moved our seats until I got to the airport and was issued boarding passes. Jennifer Minchau To me, this should be a no brainer, at least for kids 5 and under. (Even though I think kids 12 and under should be seated with at least 1 parent/family member.) If they cannot travel as unaccompanied minors, then why are they allowed to be unaccompanied on the flight? $16635417 Very good point. Several years ago I booked flights almost a year in advance and got great seats. (No fee) Several times between booking and the flight, my seats were changed due to schedule and equipment changes. Since I didn’t use a travel agent, the responsibility fell to me to monitor the reservation and I had no problem keeping the seats we wanted. $16635417 But, according to Chris, the “real problem” was the return where she couldn’t get seats to begin with. Presumably, she would have had the same problem before charging for seat assignments began? LeeAnneClark So…you would stick your 3-yr-old between two strange men at the opposite end of the plane, as I was expected to do? Wow…methinks you should be re-evaluating your OWN parenting attitude and abilities, rather than calling the parents who wouldn’t dream of shoving their toddlers onto strangers for hours “brats”. LeeAnneClark I don’t know what blog you’re reading, but nobody here is asking for husbands and wives to sit together. But of course it’s clear what you are doing – attempting to paint parents who want to sit with their toddlers in the same brush as couples who want to sit together. It doesn’t work. And if you are going to refuse to move so that I can sit with my 3-yr-old, I’ll just go ahead and stick her next to you so YOU can put up with her for 5 hours. Like that better? LeeAnneClark I don’t know why that seems to happen to you…but that’s certainly not my experience. When traveling with my young children, I would happily sit ANYWHERE in the plane provided my kids would be with me. So please stop assuming that those of us with kids would always demand the better seats. That’s just in your head. LeeAnneClark It is not a special accommodation. It is basic human decency. No small child should be separated from their parent, and parents shouldn’t have to pay extra to avoid putting their child in harm’s way. Children DO have special needs…just like the disabled. Handicapped people don’t have to pay for accommodations…why should children? SoBeSparky While I am sympathetic for sure, certain measures can minimize this from happening, such as checking reservations periodically, making sure all passengers are on the same PNR, and doing advance check-in 24 hours in advance. While these do not guarantee seats together, it gives you warning to irregularities (sometimes unpreventable) so that customer service can iron it out well in advance of baggage check-in and boarding. Time is precious in ironing out difficult situations. Airlines will be sympathetic too, if given enough time to react and find a mutually satisfactory solution. The solution with the gate agent on a full flight almost always is, “find someone to trade seats with.” This can be avoided by keeping it out of the GA’s hands. She/he is busy with many responsibilities at the last minute, and your seating problem is not at the top of the must-do critical list. I once had a friend loose his first class upgraded seat on the domestic portion of an international itinerary. With several days warning in advance of departure, we were able to negotiate and help the airline understand a six-month-standing upgrade should be honored first. The seat was needed for “security” purposes, which I interpreted to mean for sky marshall seating. Another more recently upgraded passenger lost his seat instead. bodega3 Seat assignments are not guaranteed and if you booked months in advance, you should be checking every few days to make sure what you want, you either still have or can still get. Waiting until you get to the airport and assuming everything would be fine isn’t what you should do. Of course I don’t want a kid to be separated from a parent, but you can’t expect others to give up their seats. If they do fine but you shouldn’t get upset or expect it. bodega3 I should also add, that some carriers will put you in premier seating if your seats disappear. Seat assignments are noted in history. Not all carriers will do this and if you use a TA, they know which ones and can be very proactive on your behalf. SoBeSparky I will repeat my comments above. The advance 24-hour check-in should have been employed. Then, arriving at the airport with children and boarding passes with seat assignments, you have far more leverage in transferring it from being your problem to the airline’s problem. They made the change at the last minute, and they should correct it. You have a paper record and children in tow. No agent with a heart and a mind will be turning you down seeing both. This is another reason to make sure you are at the airport well in advance, depending on your needs for a boarding pass and/or checking baggage. This also shows what happens to other passengers when changes are made to your seat assignments at your request. The problems just go down the line, line dominoes. bodega3 How do you know? Did you check everyday up to the day of departure only to find something different at the airport? If so, then you had a last minute aircraft change and nobody’s seats were protected. I have experienced this and had my father’s seat on the opposite side of the plane from what had been preassigned due to his disablilty. Dane Carpenter They should pay me the fee for babysitting if they are going to go ahead and charge these people for premium seating and still separate them anyways. I don’t want to have to watch a six year old for 4 hours because they get restless 2 hours into the flight, because Mommy is three rows back and Dad is in the back of plane. LeeAnneClark Just to be clear…”minimize” doesn’t mean “eliminate”. It’s still possible for parents to be separated from their young children, no matter how many “measures” you take. And that’s just wrong. Period. bodega3 No it isn’t a sad statement, just one that people want what they booked, even you. LeeAnneClark I like how you just assume that I didn’t check every few days. What makes you think I didn’t take every possible measure? As I mentioned in my first post, this was some time ago, when not all the measures currently available were available. I did everything possible, and still got separated. So, if we do get separated in spite of all my measures, you say I shouldn’t expect others to give up their seats…and I shouldn’t “get upset” when they don’t. Can you tell me what you think I SHOULD do? Should I just dump my 3 yr old between two strange men…and be happy about it? REALLY? Wow. Just more sorry evidence of the sad state of humanity. Roger Miller You don’t see anything offensive about this comment? “So, if you’re a heifer who can’t control their trips to the buffett and can’t be bothered to walk–instead riding on your government supplied fatty scooter–“ LeeAnneClark That all sounds wonderful…until you find yourself with boarding passes with separated seats in spite of all you did, which is what happened to me. The flight didn’t allow for pre-printing of boarding passes (don’t remember why). I got to the airport with all of the documentation showing that I had pre-selected seats together, and we STILL got separated. And they WOULDN’T correct it. Like the Mom in this article, I was told to ask the flight attendants – who wanted nothing to do with it, and wouldn’t lift a finger to help until the two MEN who got stuck with my 3-yr-old between them complained. That’s what happened. But you guys just keep on trying to make this MY fault. Sorry…doesn’t work. I wasn’t my fault. Period. But y’all just can’t accept that, can you? It HAS to be my fault, so you can justify your selfish desires to keep your own seats and ignore the fact that toddler was about to be put in an unsafe situation for 5 hours. If you can find a way to make it the parent’s fault, then it’s acceptable to you, right? Sad. judy nagy I don’t like government involvement, but if the airlines are so dumb that they can’t police themselves, what other recourse do we have? Stupid, stupid, stupid. LeeAnneClark I actually don’t even care if I get “what I booked”. I didn’t care where they put me – front, back, middle. But I DO care that they don’t stick my 3-yr-old at the opposite end of the plane between two strange (and angry) men. I want the right to not be forced to put my child in danger for 5 hours. That’s all I want. And yet I still get attacked for it. Which, at this point and given the history of the commenters on this blog, doesn’t surprise me in the least. It just makes me sad. Jeanne_in_NE I guess I was being a little too indirect. No matter the remedies and precautions one can take to ensure that one’s family can sit together, there will always be someone who won’t/can’t take them and then feel that everyone else should scramble to accommodate them. Mark The question was, should the government mandate that families sit together? Last time I checked, a husband and wife = a family. So does a 60 year old mom traveling with a 35 year old daughter. It’s nice if they can sit together, but should not be a legal requirement. I think over-12’s can sit by themselves for a couple of hours without mom or dad in the next seat, so that should be the limit of any legal requirement. bodega3 You could tell the carrier to put you on a later flight if no one wanted to give up their seat. Look, I get it. I wouldn’t be happy either to have my young kids separated from me, but you can’t get upset with others for not wanting to give up what they have because you don’t have what you want. There are two sides to this. The carrier moved you because of an aircraft change so all they want to do is get the plane off the ground and assign people the best they can. If it has been a few year ago, then they didn’t know your kids were minors as age wasn’t needed then. Give the other passengers a break as they had rights too! LeeAnneClark Sigh…once again, nobody is asking for adults to be mandated to be able to sit together. That’s ridiculous, and you know it. This entire article is about parents being able to sit with their MINOR CHILDREN. And you know it. Stop trying to muddy the waters with absurd exaggerations, and let’s remain focused on what we all know is a real problem – young children being forcibly separated from their parents and stuck with possibly hostile strangers for hours at a time. y_p_w I haven’t used Ticketmaster in years. The last time I tried all one could do was select a price level and number of tickets. The reservation system would spit out the seats and you could either take it or leave it. I figured that they could implement new software where one could select by seating chart, but didn’t know if they’d done it by now. SoBeSparky It is still possible? After monitoring your reservations, after advance boarding passes, after calling the airline customer service line, after contacting the check-in counter agent? A five-year-old is sitting by themselves without parental accompaniment? It happened to you? Lots of things are possible. Making a law or regulation does not guarantee anything. And it is still wrong. So one must take full and active responsibility for their own fate. No airline and no government is going to make your inconvenience impossible. LeeAnneClark OMG. I continue to be stunned at the logic-stretching that people will use in order to justify their heartlessness. You wrote “but you can’t get upset with others for not wanting to give up what they have because you don’t have *WHAT YOU WANT*.” What part of basic human decency is not clear to you? It’s not about what I “want”. It’s about not putting children in danger. And sticking my 3-yr-old between two hostile strangers for 5 hours was putting her in danger. And I’m sorry but the rights of a child to NOT be put in danger trump any passenger’s right to sit in the exact seat they want. y_p_w The story says that they selected their seats, but had their seat selections pulled out from them once they tried checking in. As far as I recall, airline seating has never been guaranteed. You may get a choice, but it’s technically only a request and you could always be bumped or moved around at the airline’s discretion. For all we know, they could have been moved around because some “elite” customers wanted their seats and thus bumped them. bodega3 Then you could have asked to be put on another flight. I understand the concern, I would have had it, too, but to expect others to give up their seats is wrong. I usually will give up my seat on a bus, the subway to someone. But on a plane, I won’t if it means for 5 hours I will be in a less desirable seat than I have. I got stuck in a middle seat for 5 1/2 hours before and won’t do it again! LeeAnneClark Here we go again. “Inconvenience”? You consider sticking a tiny child between possibly hostile strangers for hours, far away from his parents, to be an “inconvenience”? I consider it to be a “DANGER”. You say one must take “full and active responsibility for their own fate”. And how, pray tell, did I NOT, when this happened to me? Can you explain how I might have taken more active responsibility, beyond taking EVERY POSSIBLE MEASURE to ensure that my children and I sat together…and still finding ourselves separated? Not that I expect you to be able to answer this question…because there is no answer. I did everything that was possible, and still I’m the one being attacked for being irresponsible, and unreasonable for not wanting to stick my 3 yr old between two hostile strangers for 5 hours. y_p_w However, they had selected seats, but were informed that their seat selections weren’t being honored when they checked in. LeeAnneClark And what makes you think another flight wouldn’t have had the same issue? If I asked for another flight, presumably THAT one would be filled with people who also pre-booked their seats. So…what…I should just not go? In the end, that’s really what you all are saying. You are saying we parents should not be allowed to fly because it might :::gasp::: inconvenience someone else in order to avoid putting a tiny child in danger. Once again, just more evidence of the sad state of humanity. y_p_w I noted that, since a lot of the comments are that they should have booked enough in advance to get seat assignments. of course they did. However, Chris noted that it could have been an equipment change where the seating assignments go out the door. y_p_w They did pick the exact flight and seats. Not sure what happened. Chris suggested it could have been an equipment change. I know there could be things such as elite passengers bumping others for their preferred seat. I’ve heard of seat assignments being reset for technical reasons. There are a host of things that could have happened, but I wouldn’t put this blame on the letter writer. It sounds like she did her best to get four seats together, but the airline threw the adjacent seats away for one reason or another. LeeAnneClark Oh, and I just gotta ask…really? You wouldn’t give your seat up to a mother with two toddlers, resulting in one of the toddlers being put in danger? You would put your own comfort over the safety of a toddler? Sad. :( SoBeSparky On most airlines, when you cannot get a boarding pass 24 hours beforehand, the red flag goes up right then. It means you have an unassigned seat, subject to first-come, first-served airport check-in. You are in deep trouble right there. LeeAnneClark And what do you suggest the poor parents in this situation do? You can call the airline all you want, but what they will tell you is that you will need to deal with the seat issue at the gate. Which is what I did. And yep, we found ourselves in deep trouble. And STILL everyone wants to make this out to be my fault. Everyone wants to blame the victim…because that allows them to justify not being willing to give up their own comfort to protect the safety of a toddler. By blaming the parents, everyone can sleep at night thinking they are NOT bad people for refusing to help that poor mother and child, because it must have been their own fault anyway. So if the 3-yr-old gets stuck between two angry men who treat her like an irritating insect while the mother is trapped 30 rows away, well, that’s what they get. And they deserve it. And you can sleep at night. SoBeSparky My point is that there are numerous choices the customer makes, and they all are important. For example, while an early morning flight might be inconvenient to a family, it is far more probable to take off on time. As an example, later in the day after weather and mechanical problems across the entire domestic network, many seats have be reassigned and changed for essential reasons. Best advice is to pick that 6:30 a.m. flight, even though the family must rise at 4 a.m. So if you pick an 11:30 a.m. flight to Orlando at a holiday time, absolutely guaranteed to be sold out, then you have a higher probability of things going wrong. We do not know why and when the four seats were split apart. That is another point. Were all seats on the same PNR? Were they correctly bought as child and adult, even though the fares may have been the same? Etc. Lindabator But they would have been notified of a schedule change (Flight number in this case) – she never bothered to follow up, and then expected to have 4 seats together for Holiday travel – because they are a “family” – if she paid more attention, this could have been avoided – and knowing there were no seats together on the return flight, she should have chosen a different flight altogether. LeeAnneClark If you read the other comments, you will see that those of us who feel that small children have a right to sit with parents are NOT asking for whole families to sit together. All we are asking for is that all children get to sit with ONE parent. If you have two parents, at least ensure that each child gets to be with one of them. Anyone who is demanding more than that is, I would agree, being unreasonable and has no right to demand accommodation. But please recognize that all we are asking is that no small child should ever be stuck ALONE, far away from any parent. Which is what happened in this story – and what happened to me. hunter12 She paid for FOUR choice seats located together. The airline moved everybody from her original chosen location. NJgirl13 It’s a special accommodation for your snowflake. The rest of the people on the plane paid full fare, why should they have to move for your child. If you pay enough, for first class, or are a frequent enough traveler they will sit you and your child together. Otherwise you are asking for special favors. People don’t hate children, they hate entitled parents like you. Nikki Not sure how I feel on government regulating stuff like that – but it should have been a no-brainer for the airline to make sure no minor child is flying without a parent next to them. I agree with the two-seat tactic – – one adult, one child next to each other in one location, same thing in another. But having passengers ask passengers to change seats is more than a bit much, it’s absurd. If ages have to be input at the time of reservation, there needs to be some kind of way for the gate staff to ensure minor children (up to a certain age, of course – teenagers are probably going to want to be separated from their parent/s anyway) are next to their parents. 5 years old… sheesh. Does ANY airline really want to take the chance that something – oh, maybe, a molestation – can happen to a child that young flying separately from the parents? OK, so I sound alarmist, but um – I just can’t imagine any airline wanting to handle the five-alarm fire of publicity that would emerge from an incident like that. LeeAnneClark Riiiight…so it’s “entitled” to not want my 3-yr-old to be stuck between two hostile strange men for 5 hours. It’s “entitled” to not want my child to be put in danger. It’s “entitled” to not want to have to pay hundreds of dollars more to fly on an aircraft and NOT have my toddlers put in danger. Real entitled. :::rolling eyes::: None of this surprises me, though. The inhumanity and coldheartedness of others no longer surprises me. Just makes me sad. Lindabator They would need to oversee any program – you know how they get. Lindabator But they don’t have to change the “theatre” type, while aircraft types change as needed – which is why you need to be more vigilante if travelling Holidays. Lindabator When that happens, they’d refund the old seats and rebook the new ones – just ask Jeanne_in_NE – I had to do it for her couple of months ago. But once you see the flight number is changed, that’s the first clue – and when it should be dealt with. (IF you don’t ask for the refund, you don’t get it!) Lindabator Sounded like a change on the outbound (like with you guys), and NEVER had seats on the return – so whose fault is that? Holidays are notorious for limited availability and multiple changes – so more vigilance is required. :) NJgirl13 We’re not cold heart-ed people, we are just sick of people like you who think the world revolves around them. We all pay hundreds of dollars to fly on an aircraft, therefor we all expect to be treated equally. If I am a loyal flier, if I paid more for my ticket, then I expect the airline to fix my seat first and then yours. Your child is only in danger if you have not taught them how to handle a dangerous situation and if you haven’t taught them that then stay at home. It is the entitled people like you that people on this column are sick of hearing about. And saying ha ha I’ll just let those people who wouldn’t move sit next to my three year old just shows what kind of terrible parent you are and what kind of adults your children will be. http://gspirits.com/ Zod The last thing we need is the government poking their nose into yet one more aspect of our lives. If you want the government to do anything at all, it should be to force the airlines to make sure that there are adequate seats available for *ALL* booked passengers instead of the practice of overbooking! LeeAnneClark Well aren’t you full of contradictions? First, you tell me I’m a bad parent for sticking my 3-yr-old between strangers. And then you tell me I’m a bad parent for not having taught my 3-yr-old how to protect herself from bad strangers, so no matter WHAT I do I’m a bad parent! Riiiiggghhhtt…. Just FTR, I had no intention of leaving my 3-yr-old with them. I did it to force the fight attendant’s hands…they would HAVE to find a solution, because that wasn’t acceptable to anyone. Second of all, about teaching a 3-yr-old to deal with danger…yeah, that’s a laugh. Clearly you are not a parent. I love it when non-parents think they can tell actual parents about parenting. It’s always a laugh a minute. So, just to boil it down to reality…you feel your desire for comfort trumps a small child’s right to not be put in danger. And you call ME entitled? How do you sleep at night? By the way, my kids are much older now and have turned out fine, thankyouverymuch. That’s because I have always put THEIR care above my own. I fear for any YOU might have, tho… NJgirl13 You are the person on the plane I don’t want to be near because nothing is ever good enough, and your children turning out “fine” I’d want a professional to testify to that. And you have no idea if I’m a parent or not but hey I sleep pretty well because my parents had manners and taught them to me unlike your poor kids. http://gspirits.com/ Zod Honestly though, if you pick your seats ahead of time and you are assigned these seats, I don’t think that the airline has any right to change those seats for *ANY* reason unless they are willing to compensate you for changing your seats. A recent flight to hawaii, my wife and I has assigned seats next to each other. The day before the flight, we noticed that our seat assignments has changed. One seat was assigned but the other was changed to TBD. When we got to the gate, the TBD seat was somewhere far behind…and this was on a 10 hour flight…It took quite a bit of wrangling with the gate attendant who eventually found two single flyers flying alone willing to trade seats…but this shouldn’t be the gate attendant’s job to assign seats that were already assigned in the first place! bodega3 Seat have never been guaranteed by most carriers. Yes, it is a PITA and I deal with it all the time. If your seat is missing, call immediately and if nothing can be done, get to the airport early as many seats are held back for airport checkin. All the carriers do is guarantee to get you to your destination or give you your money back. Spysea We need to keep the gov’t out of business , airlines should do this on their own …. LeeAnneClark And yet more bizarrity from the NJ girl – you assume that because I want to protect my 3-yr-old from being forcibly put in danger, you think that “nothing is ever good enough” for me? Quite a leap of logic. (Not that there’s any real logic involved…) Entertaining, tho! Editing to add…it’s clear from both your screen name and your posts that you are, in fact, 13 years old. Which explains why you think that you can teach “manners” to a 2 and 3 yr old. Not to mention the fact that “manners” has nothing to do with anything being discussed in this thread. How, pray tell, would teaching “manners” to toddlers help? Wait…don’t answer that. I’m not really interested in what a 13-yr-old has to say on this topic. TonyA_says To be fair, I believe the current DOT head Mr. LaHood and his folks have come up with some good passenger protection rules. So even a pessimist like me has been smiling. We even have our own guy, Charlie Leocha, as a consumer rep in Congress now. So there is something to be hopeful about. LeeAnneClark Well folks I’m pretty much done with this zoo of a comment thread. I long ago realized that you can’t talk humanity into the inhumane. But I felt, as a parent, I had to give it a good ol’ college try. Maybe, just maybe, one person will recognize the inhumanity of their “my comfort is more important than the safety of your child” stance. Then again, maybe not. In spite of all the evidence, I will never give up hope that *most* humans have the ability to be good people. I will leave you all with an apt, although sad, analogy based on reality. During Hurricane Sandy, a mother and her two little boys got stranded in their vehicle when trying to flee the floods. She attempted to drag them to safety through the floodwaters, ending up on the back porch of a home where she banged on the door and begged and pleaded to be let in. The homeowner refused, and the two little boys were swept away and DIED. Did that homeowner have a right NOT to let that mother and her two toddlers into his home? Of course. He certainly had the right to not subject himself to the discomfort of possibly getting wet when opening the door, and having to accommodate some strangers in his home. Across the blogosphere, people are blaming the mother for not having evacuated sooner, or attempting to drive in a hurricane, or for leaving her vehicle. But regardless of anything she might have done wrong prior to that point, the bare fact is that she ended up on that back porch with two babies, and that man refused to let them in – sentencing the kids to DEATH. To all of you who feel you should not have to give up your seat so that a small child can be with his mother, I put you all in the same category as that homeowner. Maybe you and he will meet up in an airport bar and have a drink someday. You’d probably get along great, since you’re cut from the same cloth. And now, back to talking about loyalty programs, lost luggage and TSA abuses. Phil DiGrave I know — how dare a Libertarian not conform their thoughts and ideas to other Libertarians? My goodness, to what is this world coming? TonyA_says I agree. Just block rows together anywhere except the exits and get done with it. I might even agree to charging a SMALL fee for extra service. But for Pete’s sake, some powerful person needs to get it done. This thing is more irritating than tarmac delay because it happens quite often (IMO) especially during holidays. Barry Moss I’m divided on this issue. The most likely result of any government regulation is that you simply won’t be able to purchase a seat on a flight where there aren’t the correct number of seats adjacent seats are not available in the cabin requested. There would a check box in the booking page that would force adjacent seating and block all other inventory. While families could be guaranteed seating together, they may find themselves paying higher fees. Perhaps it’s worth it, but it also means you might have to take an different flight to get what you are looking for. NJgirl13 First of all I am far older than thirteen. Second my parents would have said no thank you to being separated from me on a plane when I was three and would have cancelled their vacation AND or funeral plans. They always took the WHOLE family into consideration. So you bitching that everyone else should be inconvenienced for you doesn’t hold any water. YOU are why people won’t move seats. You bitch on thread after thread here and are voted down, and guess what, it’s not because people hate children it’s because people hate entitled people like you. If you were nice, people would have switched seats with you most likely. But when you come across with the attitude that they MUST…well that’s your problem J I read your post above about talking humanity into the inhumane. I just wanted to suggest that you may not get as much push back from people if you don’t begin your responses with commentary such as “Yup, right on queue.” On US Air and AIr Tran and probably some other airlines the minimum age for an unaccompanied minor is 5 years old. Maybe I didn’t feel it necessary to spell it out in my response, but I don’t see why an airline should be forced to seat a family together if their own policy is that that child is old enough to fly alone. No, I don’t actually agree with sending a 5 year old as an unaccompanied minor. Also, Chris is often vague or general in his polls. He asked if families should be seated together, he didn’t specify whether it was the whole family or not. Since my opinion is “not necessarily,” I voted no, as I am entitled to. In my opinion, you didn’t have to take to a place where you start calling names, like “heartless creep.” If the airline wants to make a policy about seating families together, I’ll consider the possibility of getting bumped from my seat when I decide which airline I’m flying. But if they want to let me have my seat of choice by paying more or showing up first at the airport, then I want the seat that I obtained through those means. Nothing prevents people who need to be seated together from paying more or showing up early to get the seats they need. I don’t think most people are saying they would never give up their seat for a family to sit together, as you’re choosing to interpret. I read most of the comments as it’s not an absolute that they’ll accomodate every request every time. And personally, if someone approached me with the type of entitled and superior attitude you’ve shown in your posts today, I would probably not budge. bodega3 Oh good grief. bodega3 Thanks for the laugh about Charlie. LeeAnneClark And once again you jump to conclusions about things that you couldn’t possibly know – such as, my “attitude” when asking people to move. Not that it surprises me. Nor do any of the heartless posts in here…all the people who try to assuage their own guilt by blaming it on the parents and children who want nothing more than to NOT be put in danger. I know it makes you feel better about yourself. But it doesn’t change the truth about who and what you are. And now I’m done…feel free to keep on attacking me, if it continues to make you feel better about yourself and your heartlessness. I won’t be reading it. bodega3 And this all comes after making a stink at security because she doesn’t like the TSA. I think there is a pattern here! TonyA_says I was expecting your comment :-) Vec14 I voted no – as much as I think parents and children should be seated together, it’s a slippery slope if the government steps in. I think seat selection is primarily the responsibility of the parent(s), with maybe a little encouragement for the airlines to try and keep them together. I pick my seats for a reason – after having a DVT, I like an aisle seat, both so I can get up and walk around a couple times, and so I can stretch my affected leg in the aisleway. One DVT was enough for me – so I pick my seats with a very good reason. Most people who have a seat preference have their reasons, trivial or not. I will switch seats if it is equivalent, if you ask nicely, and a host of other factors, like how long the flight is. I’ve had drinks and snack boxes bought for me as thank-yous, and I’ve heard of people being offered cash to swap seats. If you need someone to switch, have a good reason and be polite. Try and work things out in the gate area – it’s a lot easier – even if you have to address the crowd in the waiting area. I will say I also don’t understand couples who can’t be split up for a short flight – found someone in my seat once – he wanted to swap my aisle for his aisle – on a 90 minute flight crack of dawn flight to sit next to his wife! Parents may need to consider not everyone may sit together and may need to consider a backup plan if there is an equipment change. NJgirl13 You are heartless because you think of only you and your snowflakes…give it up, stay home and the rest of us will be happier RetiredNavyphotog Learn how to say “no.” I pick my seats ahead of time. Unless someone wants to give me cold, hard cash I am not moving. I pick that aisle seat for a reason because of medical problems. Mundane Lustrator I’m so sorry that happened to you, LeeAnne. I would never expect a parent to be separated from their young child on a flight, and I will make an extra effort to be aware of that kind of situation should it arise when I fly. TonyA_says I think the FA can be a fair broker for seat trading. To be honest, I would rather deal with an FA than another passenger. I agree that this should not happen in the first place. That’s why I am proposing more seat blocking and earlier seat assignment prioritization for families so no horse trading is necessary inside the airplane. RetiredNavyphotog Why should people move because you checked in too late? y_p_w Yes you need to do that. However we booked our child separately. My wife booked our seats through an incentive program (BOGOF). Then she asked me to book our kid and the booking system didn’t allow for me to book the proper age range. We just booked our kid as an adult and entered the correct birthdate in the passenger info. We had no issues at the gate. I guess my point is that the booking systems aren’t even programmed to check for an age range that matches DOB. I don’t know if they really want to tackle keeping families together. atlmom10 you’re kidding right? I am supposed to –on vacation — sit on my computer and wait until 23 hours and 59 minutes before my flight to check in? Is that really what you wanted to say to me? I checked in when I could get to a computer, as soon as I could. My son is SEVEN. There is no reason he should sit by himself. Why would one have to prove a seven YO has ‘special needs’ in order for him to sit next to a parent? I am all for kids being independent (if it was my older one, yeah, he COULD sit alone, or even the two together, but it’s doubtful anyone would want to sit next to him for several hours, honestly) TonyA_says I used to see seat maps with more Bs in the front section. I suppose these were for handicaps and infants or tiny kids. When the airlines did Economy Plus and Premium seating, they disappeared. Now, you have Three Entitled Econ Groups. Economy comfort, Loyal FQTVs, and someone who paid extra for choice seats. Families with very young kids just have to sit together. Does not need to be in front. The point it the adjoining seats need to be blocked for them not unless we want the Southwest style boarding and seating process. TonyA_says I must be referring to aircrafts with bassinets. All I can remember is thst i miss seing a block of rows nowadays on the seat maps. Its been a while so I could easily be mistaken. RetiredNavyphotog At this point, I have to say that you are way out of line. Cybrsk8r Chris, I’m a little confused by this. If she reserved the seats together, paying extra for a premium seat so the four seats would be together, how did US Airways suddenly shuffle the seat assignments. If you pick your seat when you book the tickets, which is what I’m assuming she did, then I wouldn’t think the airline would be able to randomly re-assign the seats. TonyA_says I think Raven is funny. Dutchess So because you checked in late….so now it’s everyone else’s problem. Wonderful. bodega3 Yes, bulkhead seating on international flights use to show the bassinets and were held for families with lap children. I hadn’t paid much attention to this, but you are correct, I don’t see those any more. Also worth noting , bulkhead seating can also get you moved if someone with a need calls the carrier. I always advise clients who get bulkhead seating that this could happen. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often. bodega3 Yes, that is how it works whether you like it or not. Because you don’t wish to follow what others have done and expect your needs to be addressed is selfish. NJgirl13 Exactly, if you don’t agree 100% with her you must hate kids (and probably puppies too..) bodega3 Sad isn’t it! Dutchess Yes, because it’s your responsibility to make sure you can sit together. And who said you have to sit next to your computer, ever heard of a smartphone? Set an alarm and check in online, I do it all the time when I need to fly SWA. I don’t think your needs as a parent outweigh my needs as a fellow traveler and your “do it for the children” plea is not an argument but emotional blackmail. Also, don’t you know they allow families with small children board between the A & B group to prevent this type of thing? bodega3 Glad I came through for you :-) JimDavisHouston Not to sound nasty, but if away and seating is important to you, you locate the Computer in advance and go to it 24hrs before flight time. Basically, you snooze / you loose. Others want good seats as much as we do. No one is special. TonyA_says From a system perspective, they don’t care IMO. The system does validate PTC and DOB entry. If you enter an infant PTC, the age must be less than 2. If you enter a child PTC, the age must be 2 to 12. PTC stands for passenger type code. If you default to an adult, there is no age verification. All that verification does is check whether the child and infant fares apply to the passengers. Seat Assignment is a whole different animal. If you want valid family members with very young kids to sit together, you will need to block some rows intended for this purpose. Then you will need to authorize some people who can assign these seats based on a fair policy. Finally, at some point the remaining unassigned seats need to be released to others. If there is an equipment change, everyone must go through the seat assignment process sgain. To avoid heated confrontations, some seats must be designated and labeled for family priority. If you are on one of these, the FA can tell you to switch so that a family can sit together. It is not perfect but it is family friendly. TonyA_says We do it all the time. Sit in front of the computer and wait for checkin to open. C’mon that isn’t that hard to do. TonyA_says Yes there will always be a crying victim. We could label the rows – reserved for valid families seating. You could be asked to move if you are sitting here. Then the gate agent or FA can make the last minute changes. TonyA_says You really need to call ahead and ask for what you want. If you have a problem on the day of the flight, the law requires that a coordinator be working at the airport. Ask to speak with that person since she/he will be knowledgeable about Part 382. TonyA_says Never, unless these passengers were told that kids had priority on those seats and they can be asked to move. Just like you see on a bus or train. If passengers are forced to move you will never solve this. CarolinaLannes Or you could pay the extra 10 bucks and get a better zone. More people were on vacation and took the time to check-in earlier. Why should you get special treatment? CarolinaLannes Most do, actually. I started flying alone at age 7. Before anyone starts calling my parents names, I had a medical condition that could only be treated on another state. I had to go to the doctor every month. My grandparents lived on such state, so they would pick me up at the airport, take me to the doctor and drive me back. All on the same day. Never ever have I had any problem. So that’s likely why I see parents of 7yo wanting people to move to acomodate snow flakes as the whiners they trully are. MarkieA I almost hate to ask – I’m pretty sure I know the answer – buy why exactly are you boarded first? And be careful with using “P.O.S.” It has other connotations. bodega3 Really? On opposing ends of the plane? Do you call the carrier and have them on the phone while you are making your reservations and buying the ticket? I have never, ever had this happen to any of my reservations for clients who need two seats together due to size or a medical need. Maybe you should call a TA if this continues to happen. CarolinaLannes Because clearly everytime you see someone in need you stop and help. God knows, it could be a parent;. Btw, there are many people in shelters right now, including todllers and their parents. Shouldn’t you be going there to offer your house for the night? CarolinaLannes It actually happened to me once. I was travelling for work and they couldn’t get me a bussiness ticket for some reason, so they got me 3 tickets (all same PNR and with the annotation that it was ment for the same person). I checked in online, and the seats had been moved around. Apparently, I was to sleep head in 23-A, back in 24-C and legs in 40-(something, sorry, don’t remember). Of course, since I checked earlier, I could call the air line and have it sorted out. MarkieA As Ann Landers said many times, “No one can take advantage of you unless you let them.” Pressured? Sorry, I don’t see it. A simple, polite “No thank you” should do the trick. Or ask for the fare difference right there. http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry Family boarding for Southwest is after the A group and before B, so there should be more than just middle seats left. LJBROCK Nope…not kidding… you want to sit together, you pay the $10 early check-in fee or check in online 24 hours in advance like the rest of us do. No way would I have traded my aisle seat for a middle so you could sit by your kid cause you didn’t check in soon enough! NO WAY! http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry I don’t have any children. But I have absolutely no problem switching seats when asked nicely to allow a parent to sit next to his/her child, not even if it means I switch to a middle seat. I’ve done that more than once. I don’t understand why people have to be such jerks. LJBROCK I don’t like puppies much either. EMF If one buys multiple tickets together, at the same time, on the same reservation, the seats should be together, regardless of the age, sex, religion, race, or any other fact. Obviously, if people are travelling together, they should be able to to stay together. LJBROCK If your 3 yr old would have been placed between two WOMEN would that have been different, why emphasize that it was two MEN!?? LJBROCK Yeah, cause this is the same thing as what happened to you. TonyA_says Raven, what exactly are these gov’t issued scooters? These are not the electric carts that transport people between gates, right? TonyA_says Some airlines will only honor an extra (adjoining) seat because the passenger is too big or has a cabin baggage like a cello. Glad they fixed it for you. Raven_Altosk Why not angry women? Why be so sexist? Raven_Altosk Aside from the small percentage of people who have a legitimate medical condition, explain to me how people get fat? … ….. ……. Yup. Like I said, too many trip to the buffett. Are “persons of size” now a protected class? Raven_Altosk No, I mean the TV commercials for “The Scooter Store!” and the like where they “guarantee” to get you approved for your “free” scooter. The one that ran me down was a Di$ney visitor on one of those ridiculous rental scooters. Raven_Altosk I don’t see why gender has anything to do with this. Stating that two strangers would be just as effective. TonyA_says Oh, those chariots. I stay away from those when I am in Costco or the supermarket. They are dangerous because you don’t hear them even when they are almost touching your behind. They need some kind of beeping noise. TonyA_says I’m curious. Why didn’t your airline ask the 400 lb guy to buy an extra seat? calbff Since the title of the article refers to “five-year old twins” and my comment is obviously referring to young children, your reference to a twelve year-old is a straw man. To answer your question, YES, parents of a five year old are responsible for their young children 24-7, unless they choose to place someone else in charge of them such as a bus driver or teacher – and this is the point I’m making. The airlines are stopping the parents from being able to watch them, and are not taking the responsibility themselves. This is completely unacceptable. dr44 Airlines’ stupid behavior irks me as much as anybody, and I’m not defending their idiotic choices. But your knee-jerk “greed” comment irks me. Airlines are trying – and barely succeeding, most of them – to keep themselves solvent in a horrible economy and faced with rising fuel prices. It isn’t “greed” to try to make enough money to pay their employees and their bills – it’s simple economics. We can argue all day about the choices they DO make – and like you, I think many of them are beyond stupid – but like everybody else nowadays, they’re just trying to keep their head above water financially. dr44 And would the airline pay legal damages if the child was molested by the stranger sitting next to them? Parents should be able to sit next to their kids, for protection if nothing else. TonyA_says Did you bother to read my other post where I explained and showed an example of a typical allocation of seats and how the portion of blocked seats for handicaps and families are getting smaller and smaller compared to choice seats that require additional fees? The result is families that need to seat together might now have to buy one or more of those choice seats. Why make it more difficult for families? As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Oh by the way, if airlines, as you say, are having a hard time keeping their heads above water maybe you ought to examine where the money is going to. Try high interest debt, oil speculators, executive compensation, M&A fees, you name it. Don’t blame the poor families because they dont wanna pay those seat fees. If airlines are such a rotten business, they should be dead by now. Why are many of the largest private equity guys still around owning them? These greedy bastards are not stupid. They will keep sucking the airline till its dry. Then the big bailout will come. technomage1 Exactly. Then we’re the bad guys for saying no. I pick aisle seats due to a bad shoulder. If I sit in the middle I am in pain for the duration and several days afterwords. When there are mechanical changes or I miss a connection, etc, and I get put into a middle seat I suck it up. Life happens and you have to adjust to it. TonyA_says It sucks. You paid extra for a lousy seat. Airlines gets to keep your money for a while until you get your refund. It’s the FEE Game again and again. technomage1 Oh, obviously. Because seating on a plane is a life and death situation. (Sarcasm) cowboyinbrla If it were simply the case of these particular children, you would be correct. But the question asked by Chris – the one we’re all addressing – is “Should the government require airlines to seat families together?” with no mention of age limits. Several folks on here have thrown out 12 as a potential cut-off point. Five-year old kids? Sure. 12 years old? Not so much. I’m in favor of reasonable accommodations. If the parents book months in advance when there are lots of unassigned seats, sure – the airlines should (for free) allow the parents to lock in a block of seats together. If it’s last-minute, that’s fine too, as long as people who booked earlier aren’t majorly inconvenienced in the process – ie bumping people from aisle or window seats to middle seats. As long as people who paid extra for economy plus legroom or whatever aren’t being bumped out because the only way to accommodate last minute Mom & kids is to move one of those people back to regular economy. It should have been a lot easier – as people have noted – to put the husband with one child next to him in a middle seat somewhere and the wife with the other child in a middle seat somewhere else. I’m pretty sure a person traveling alone in a middle seat would have been happy to take an aisle or window seat in exchange. Three together, however, is a lot harder to arrange while the plane is loading. bodega3 I think we agree that ideally they should, but others should not be made to give up their seat for this. Because, as another poster stated, she was late in checking in and didn’t get on when parents with young children are allowed to board, she shouldn’t expect those who got there on time to accommodate her. She could wait for another flight. Kimberly This seating thing is becoming quite a mess. I’d just say give up seating period and have passengers pay extra for priority seating. Families with children under 5 will get priority seating for 1 parent per child or 1 assistant for disabled. The rest will have to pay a fee for priority seating. It is PREFERABLE for families to sit together. Children under 12 should always be seated with an adult in their party. Do airlines really want to risk sitting a minor next to a stranger that may be…uh…less than respectable? http://gspirits.com/ Zod wow…did *I* pick the wrong thread to subscribe to! CeeJay No, it’s not your fault – sounds like you did everything you could. But it’s the fault of the passengers sitting around you, either. It’s the airline’s fault, so place the blame on them. CeeJay Oops, I meant it’s NOT the fault of the passengers sitting around you. MarkKelling Not saying that it is you who does this, or that it is necessarily parents with children. But I have seen it happen more than once and it is usually the adult couple who just can’t be separated for the two hours the flight is going to take. One has a premium seat and the other is in the back of the plane. So back-of-the- plane just has to move to the front because the airline should have known that they just can’t be separated so someone in another premium seat will just have to move. MarkKelling I don’t think ANYONE should be stuck between “two hostile strange men” for hours. But what makes you assume that any two “men” on a plane would be strange or hostile? MarkKelling But on a bus and most trains you don’t get to reserve a seat an you are free to move around as you want. I have moved many times on a bus and even stood for the length of my trip because I saw there were people more in need of a seat than I am. TonyA_says For some Economy Plus seats, there is a notice that says you may be asked to move for a handicapped passenger. Since it is not free seating the desk or gate agent might ask you to move to another ASSIGNED SEAT before boarding, or the FA while already on board. In other words, if you are seating on this “KID PRIORITY” seat, you might be asked to move somewhere else (where the kid was before maybe). MarkKelling You can use the Early Bird check in option. It guarantees you get a “good” boarding number (usually in the A group) and is only $10 extra per ticket. When on vacation or anywhere you can’t be sitting in front of a computer, I feel it is a great use of my $10. MarkKelling Nope, the airlines don’t “guarantee” you will get the premium seat you paid for and specifically state you will not get the fee refunded no matter what happens. MarkKelling The only seats on a SW plane that have extra pitch are the exit row and row 1 (and row 1 has no tray tables of any kind). The rest of the plane is the same size seats and legroom. So even in group A unless you are one of the first 12 on the plane, and it is not a connecting flight, you will not be able to get one of those seats. Also, if you board early because of mobility issues, you cannot sit in the exit rows. Before SW redid their seating earlier this year, the first 9 rows on the right side of the plane (as you are seated and facing forward) had about 2 extra inches of leg room. But they added another row of seats on all of their planes so all the seats are now uncomfortably close. john4868 @MarkKelling:disqus – I’m not sure that is correct. I’ve had a case where a scheduled & equipment change caused me to cancel a ticket and DL refunded the seat fee. I don’t think the airlines would have a leg to stand on if their action, ie a schedule change, caused you to lose the seat. Now a change on your part would be different. TonyA_says Maybe one of them was named Raven A. :-) Peace bro … y_p_w I don’t even bother trying to get a child fare. We’re leisure travelers and the adult discount fare is better than whatever we can get as a child fare. All we ever did was take along our kid as a lap infant since that was free. bodega3 Domestically that is the case, but internationally, in many markets you can still get a child’s fare and it can save you hundreds of dollars per child. There can be restrictions on the discount in that an adult must be traveling with the child to be able to obtain the child’s fare. Jeanne_in_NE Thanks. The only benefit “A” seating would confer is that my husband would be more likely to win the race for the aisle seats. Luckily, he’s been training! Lindabator But then, you are being far too reasonable and intelligent! :) Lindabator true, but you book more international flights, right? sad that these folks only want to be seated up front, though, when the back makes so much more sense. Board first and take your time without bothering anyone else, closer to bathrooms, closer to galley if needed, time to gather all belongings before leaving, again without needing to halt everyone else getting off the plane. Lindabator true, but they have enough to do getting the flight ready for departure – referee should not have to also be added to their job description. TonyA_says Sorry, I am in a state of shock now !!! 26 or more young kids have just been shot and killed here in Connecticut according to reports. Please pray for them. Thanks. Now you all know why kids are so precious. Correction: at least 20 of the 29 are young kids. News still very blurry. Lindabator Sounds like they got there AFTER B boarded – late, and expect everyone to accommodate them – sad. Lindabator you know you’ll just make him laugh for that! Jeanne_in_NE (Moderators: this is off-topic) Was wondering how to reach out to you. When the shootings at the Von Maur in Omaha occurred in 2007, people across the nation reached out to us here in Nebraska, whether we lived in Omaha or not. I know that based on that outpouring of support, the entire nation is grieving with you and that our prayers are with the entire community. TonyA_says Thank you very much. I’m speechless. This is a horrible and very very sad event. Everyone here is in shock. A lot of the folks from Newtown work here in Stamford or Danbury area. Hug your kids well and pray for those who lost a loved one. Once again, thank you. Ann Lamoy Raven, I normally like your comments-including the snarky ones, but your comments about overweight/obese people aren’t snarky. They are hurtful and judgmental. Do you really think that the biggest percentage of large people don’t care about being overweight? That it simply a matter of eating too much/not exercising? Weight is a complex issue that cannot be boiled down to something so simple and brushed away as people “not caring”. You can’t look at people and make such nasty snap judgments. Fat people are still fair game for being made fun and picked on in this country. PoC, LGQTB and other groups that used to experience that are not. (Not that it doesn’t happen but society in general finds this to be wrong. But fat people? It is still completely acceptable to make fun of/discriminate and otherwise treat as second class citizens). And no, I don’t expect fat people to get special consideration. But I don’t want them to be treated like shit either. That being said, I do sympathize with your flying experience the other day. That sucks. That passenger should have bought two seats. (and honestly the airlines shouldn’t make seats designed for Hobbits in the first freaking place). And if the guy was spilling over that much? Maybe the airlines SHOULD put a policy in place that says people that are over a certain size-to where they are taking up a seat and a half-buy two seats for themselves. But get the second seat at a discounted price. calbff I have no problems with any of what you said. That sounds quite reasonable to me. y_p_w Well yeah. The thing was that my wife did the initial booking and didn’t think about how we couldn’t book a kid separately after she got the free companion special. She just booked the adults first as a pair and asked me to book our kid. United’s online booking sales system didn’t allow us to book the kid separately as a 2-5 year old. What she should have done was book the kid with her (that was an option) and let me buy my ticket separately. We even had a 15% discount off the lowest fare with the same incentive program, but didn’t find out about that until later. In the end I just booked our kid as an adult, where it didn’t really care about the actual DOB entered and nobody blinked once we got on the plane. It was also interesting checking in with mobile boarding passes on my iPhone. I did print up paper boarding passes as a backup. As for flying internationally, I probably wouldn’t even try to book myself. I’d have a travel agent do it. Every time I’ve flown international it was through a travel agent or package tour. y_p_w Heard about that. Not sure what I’m going to do when I get home. We’re thinking of sending our child to day care or pre-school and it gives pause that such horrific things can happen in this world once your child leaves your direct care. MarkKelling Oh, SW just announced the Early Bird is going up to $12.50 — and a lot more fees “to be announced Saturday.” Great. MarkKelling Good luck. :-) I had the A-1 boarding number on one flight I took on SW. Thought I was set for the perfect exit row seat. But when I got on the plane, I saw it was a connection and over half the seats were filled! I was able to get an aisle seat next to a very small and polite couple so it was not a total loss, but I was still disappointed that my A-1 meant nothing. TonyA_says Sadly, you cannot run away from these things. I just found out shooter’s dad (an executive for GE) lives near our home and about a mile from the elementary school all my kids went to. Scary. But, hey what to do? You live in a small New England town and do not expect this to happen. All we can do is take care of our kids and teach them what is right. y_p_w Of course this kind of thing isn’t isolated to schools. I was working at a summer job in San Francisco on the day of the 101 California Street shootings. We saw the police enter en masse and the emergency PA system in our building was activated with a warning that we should stay away from the windows. Most people still looked. I think it’s human nature unless someone can actually see a gunman. The reality was that by the time anyone knew about it, the gunman was dead from a self-inflicted wound. Grant Ritchie Ha! I hear ya about the “P.O.S.” thing. I thought about that right after I posted it. As to why I’m boarded first, I always assumed it was because I paid for two seats, and Southwest wanted to be sure that I could get them side by side. Bill___A So what will you do with a family of 12? There is a cost involved with travelling together. They have priced the seats at various prices. If you don’t want to pay for the extra seats, then go to the back of the bus where they are all the same, or pay for the various seats. I just took a flight and paid for all of the seats required, as on the website. Yes, it cost me extra. Bill___A You know, the airlines should do their best to accommodate people sitting together. Children underage should not be left alone – so if the whole family can’t be seated together, they should be divided into groups with one responsible person in each group (some families are 12 people etc). That said, is the expectation really to reshuffle the whole plane if some family books at the last minute? When I pay for a premium seat, I expect it to be mine, period. Aisle seat and within 5 rows of an emergency exit. If someone wants to trade with me and I have an equivalent seat, fine. If you don’t, that’s not likely to happen. For example, I will not go to your seat which has two very bad kids right behind it and that’s further from the exits in exchange for you sitting beside your friend. As far as the dual seat issue, they should sell “paired” seats to POS people. Paired seats could be sold at a price higher than a single but less than two. Paired seats could obviously be located only where there are two seats available. As for the “medical issue vs overeating” part, unless the US has the worst medical situation on the planet, it pretty much has to be due mostly to overeating. There’s no other explanation for this. USA Today just published health rankings for each state…and the ones that scored the worst are definitely the ones with the worst diets. As for those scooters, the airline scooter drivers are no better. Why don’t they mark off “scooter lanes” in airports. However, since they don’t have the sensibility to put in moving sidewalks, I doubt there is the motivation to put in scooter lanes. Before you jump all over me, I’m not a small person (and it isn’t due to a medical issue). I don’t need two seats but I am tall and definitely use up all of my space. No, I don’t need a seat belt extender and I keep the armrest down. That said, most airlines put the seats way too close together and don’t have enough legroom. I take a dim view of those who recline their seats (I don’t do that) . Furthermore, there are a lot of airline employees out there who are just idiots. You’d think that the flying airline employee shouldn’t be the one to disrespect seat belt signs, luggage in the emergency exit rules, etc. US based airlines are in a class all by themselves, and it is a combination of employees who are poorly trained, not motivated, etc in combination with inconsiderate passengers who feel compelled to stuff their bag into the passenger cabin no matter how many they have or how big they are. Couple that with airports that have no clue what to feed people at breakfast (New Orleans…nothing open but when they are getting ready, they put hot dogs on the grill before 6 am) and Atlanta which seemingly has no food health standards inside of the airport or out. Maybe I am ranting, but I just took my first round trip to the US in a long time. It really has got to be the worst place to fly in as far as so called developed countries go. Oh, and I had the first theft of luggage items…a strap on my bag stolen probably by the TSA. It has to be a real accomplishment to be more annoying than the French. Bill___A They probably split you up to accommodate a “family”. cjr001 They didn’t. The guy who got my seat was traveling alone, hence the ease with which he was willing to trade seats with me. charlie Just sort of a side note…sometimes a person won’t move in order to help out as you saw. But if you find yourself in a situation where you and your travel partner are talking back and forth or children kneeling on a seat and shouting back and forth “hey, dad, look at what’s in my mouth now” there will be some people only too glad to switch. Gs What will happen in an emergency when families (and couples) are separated? Do we think everyone will exit in an orderly fashion? I think people will fight to go the wrong way to get with their spouses or kids…leading to a real disaster. Lindabator That is absolutely ignorant – so if someone doesn’t do what YOU want, mistreat them badly enough – then you WILL get what you wanted???? This is why the posters here don;t care for families! Lindabator which is what they should be doing in the first place! If I’m travelling alone, I could care less – when on vacation with a bad flier, I always check the seating available first – and if I need to pay more for the flight, and/or the seats, so be it. You CANNOT (families included) expect the lowest fare, free seats, etc just because you feel you are “special” – that’s usually the whining we see here, unfortunately. Zen Angel I’m a bigger gal. And I use a scooter. But it was far from free….it cost me several thousands of dollars. And I’m not bigger, nor am I using my scooter (at D*isney several times) because I can’t control myself at a buffet. I never had a weight problem, or a problem walking…until I got secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis. Wheel a mile in my shoes before you judge me. Linda What kills me is that these “premium” seats are not even better than others! I recently paid a bunch extra to reserve 2 seats on a London-to-Dallas flight, and according to SeatGuru, they were just “standard economy seats”. The only advantage was that they were 2-across instead of 4-across. No extra legroom or anything. What a scam. $25394585 Sorry your wrong on this one. She as special favors and expects another passenger to give up their seats so she can be given special seating. Either pay the extra fee or sit apart. I wouldn’t give up my seat and I think if she was flying alone and asked to take a middle seat she wouldn’t either. Someone who flies a lot The airline will not instigate a complaint. Their policy is to have the affected passenger make the complaint…most don’t and just sit there quietly and seethe while they give up half their seat without saying anything. Someone who flies a lot Air France is subsidized by the French government. Someone who flies a lot They can’t do it for them. If they were to ask a business frequent flier if they would move a seat for a family, then it would put extra pressure on them to move and they would feel more obligated, especially since the flight attendant is an authoritative figure. The f/a’s have to leave special requests between passengers just that, between passengers. Someone who flies a lot Exactly!! The airlines elite pays for 75% of the airlines income. Why shouldn’t they cater to the them rather than to the once in a while leisure traveler? Someone who flies a lot I once watched a woman board with her three kids all under the age of 8 the youngest being 4. They were all separated on a red eye flight. I watched her put her youngest in a seat and asked him to behave, then I watched her put her other two in other seats in the same manner. I was amazed that she didn’t ask anyone to move. I watched the crew the entire night constantly checking on these kids, and they never required any care the entire night. The mother checked on them too for a bathroom break. That mother had it all under control. Someone who flies a lot I wouldn’t have moved for her. Some of these mothers are also “priority boarding” their kids that are taller than me. Someone who flies a lot Why should you move someone out of their seat because your son is SEVEN? You could have sat in a row directly behind him if you require to watch him. You were just greedy and wanted someone’s aisle or window seat. Not cool. So entitled. IDoNotBowToCommies I’ve flown a lot over the past several months for work. More and more flights lately I’ve been approached to change seats by people who wanted to sit together. Maybe it’s because I sit near the front and travel alone. Their lack of planning and unwillingness to pay the airlines their extra money — isn’t *MY* problem. Usually I decline, once this last trip I did not. Oh, the experience I ended up with. I ended up from a window to a MIDDLE seat. Next to an elderly gentlemen who just wanted to talk my ear off — then who soiled his Depends. And I broke my last pair of reading glasses getting my bag under the seat — as I was being hurried along by surly flight attendents. The couple who asked me to move….didn’t even THANK ME as they walk by in baggage claim fuming at the airline misrouting and subsequently damaging my large bag with 10 days of clothes and work materials (and not having a rep around to even talk to). I’ve often said: No good deed goes unpunished. I’m done being “helpful” to people when I get the doe eyes and tears. Barry Moss I have a similar issue with claustrophobia. I used to love the window seats, but after a couple of panic attacks about 15 years ago, I now always make sure I can get an aisle seat. If the airline doesn’t allow for advanced seat selection, like Southwest, I won’t fly them. smarterthanthisguy I know this is an old topic but I am dealing with this right now my wife, daughter, and mother are on a flight back from new york tomorrow that I booked back in april it is now the end of july and they scattered them all over the plane the closest two of them are together is 4 rows apart I still consider my daughter, who just turned 9, a minor and I think I booked way ahead of time and they could of put them together but they spread them as far apart as they could as if to force me to buy choice seating. This is on US airways Ellen Henak What would your parents have done if the flight out to that funeral had appropriate seating and it was not until the return flight that three-year-old you was separated from them? Kate Carey In my opinion, if an airline is going to charge extra for me to send my unattended child on a plane then if I pay for a ticket to attend to them I should be seated with them. They are trying to play both sides of this child coin.