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b777a340fan
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UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 2:51 am

I recently flew IAD-SFO and the economy cabin was pretty much full. There was no seat selection available at the time of booking, i had to wait until check-in. I specifically checked in online exactly 24 hours before the flight hoping they woild release some seats, but no such luck. I had to pick separate seats for me and my 2 year old son. I get to the airport the next day and ask the check in agent if she could do anything to sit us together and she rudely scuffed at me saying there was nothing she could do, the flight is full. If i wanted to sit together with my 2 year old, i would have to pay another $200 to sit in economy plus. I found it completely ridiculous and felt completely blackmailed to have to pay extra just to sit next to my toddler. What am i supposed to do? Leave him by himself and hope he fends for himself for the next 5 hours? I am absolutely livid that there isnt a law of some sort that would prevent this type of situation. At the end, i had to upgrade bc there was no way i would leave my child alone, but i am furious. Anyone encounter similar situations and what did you do?

[Edited 2016-05-20 19:52:57]
 
cvg2lga
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 1:22 pm

Did you ask if it would be possible to get seated together on a later flight? You said you asked the check-in agent about getting seated together, it may have been worth a shot to check-in and ask at the gate. I don't know if you would have found a more sympathetic agent or not, but at least one that is probably more likely to care and be able to at least attempt to help i.e., asking for volunteers to switch, or upgrade someone to Y+.


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Polot
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 1:24 pm

If you had asked the FA on board or the gate agent I'm sure they could have easily found someone willing to move. Stuff like this happens all the time on all airlines.
 
AR385
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 2:42 pm

Something does not add up here. An airline is not going to let your toddler, specially at 2 years old sit FAR from you in the same plane. It makes no sense. Are they so stupid that they are going to let a 2 year old seat next to a stranger when the parent is on board? Do they expect the stranger to assume the parental duties? Sorry, as shared by you, not the way it happened.

Besides, If I was the parent, I would have absolutely refused to fly if my 2 year old is not seated next to me. Neither would have I paid extra.

I have a hard time believing this, as related.

[Edited 2016-05-21 07:44:28]
 
Birdwatching
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 8:59 pm

There is a very simple solution to your situation. I'd simply go on board and speak to the passenger in the other seat if they don't mind moving to the other seat. You'll have a near 100% success rate, and if it doesn't work, you can still do it the other way around with the second seat. Why on earth would you pay $200 when you could easily solve it the simple way?

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threeifbyair
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 9:53 pm

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
There was no seat selection available at the time of booking,

That means the flight is likely sold out in regular Y. In the future I'd recommend checking the seat map and if there aren't 2 seats available together, avoid that flight if possible.

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
What am i supposed to do?

If you can't avoid the flight, pick the most "valuable" seats you can for yourself and your child. Aisle or windows are obviously best - if only middle seats remain then I'd recommend not booking. Then when you get to the gate, propose a trade to the gate agent. Offer to trade your more desirable aisle or window seat to the person sitting next to your child. A hardworking gate agent can page the person sitting next to your child and offer to give them a better seat in exchange. I've seen it happen, usually the other person is pretty happy about it.

If you absolutely have to be on that flight and only get middle seats, obsessively check the seat map for changes and grab any seat you can that is better than what you have.

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
Anyone encounter similar situations and what did you do?

I've traded with parents several times when it was not materially worse for me to do it. I won't give up an aisle seat for any reason, unless it is for a better aisle seat. I'll happily trade my window for an aisle or a middle for anything better.

Last year I was coerced out of my seat by the FA and an angry mother who was flying standby with her ~9yo son who got seated by me. They were very abrupt about it and I ended up with a seat in the back. I know better than to argue with a FA, but that was a jerk move. I complained.
 
BlatantEcho
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sat May 21, 2016 9:56 pm

I don't understand why this is the airlines fault??

"There should be a law"????
Good lord. It's 2016, handle your business instead of asking others to do it for you.


Just go to the gate and get on the plane. It will be fine. Sheesh.
 
klm672
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 3:22 am

You left out the ending.. what happened?

It happens all the time, honestly. As others have mentioned, it is NOT the airline's fault. You did the right thing by asking at the check in. When the agent said "no, sorry" or offered you to upgrade, I would've dropped it there. I would have tried again at the gate. Lastly, I would have simply asked the person sitting next to your son if they wouldn't mind switching. Most likely they would not mind. I don't think anyone wants to have to babysit.
 
sirdanilot
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 10:47 am

Quoting threeifbyair (Reply 5):

I would never give up my RESERVED BOOKED seat which I PAYED for in exchange for a worse seat (in my perception). I would tell the FA to put me in J if they really wanted me to move, or just ask someone else to move.

And yes, the topic starter should have simply gone to the gate and boarded and ask the person sitting next to them or the child to trade places. And if all else fail just go sit at the front in economy plus. What is the flight attendant going to do, babysit the toddler themselves?

People should learn to be more assertive in general.

Of course, and that is the most important, while staying polite and not aggressive at all times, because otherwise you might be kicked off the flight, and rightfully of course.
 
coolian2
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 12:10 pm

And people wonder why the general public rolls their eyes at the service attitude displayed by airlines.
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b777a340fan
Topic Author
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 4:42 pm

For all the critics out there, I was as assertive as i could. I tried to check in as early as possible, went to the airport as early as possible, to no avail. I was firstly on the last flight to SFO so taking a later flight was not an option. Secondly, at the airport, both my child and I had middle seats, so asking a stranger to move from his aisle/window seat for a five hours flight to another middle seat would not usually be met with much praise. Thirdly, i asked the ticket agent whether or not id be able to check with the gate agent and get seats together then, she said "i could try", not the most reassuring answer. The only "guaranteed" thing i could do was snatch the last two economy plus seats that were still available (the others were exit rows) and so i did. Like i said, i did not want to risk it. So i did what i felt was the surest thing and paid extra to sit in economy plus. The lack of sympathy and understanding was what took me aback.

[Edited 2016-05-22 09:44:02]
 
bennett123
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 5:36 pm

Personally, I would rather not sit next to a strange toddler for 5 hours.

I am not a babysitter.

Does not sound like great customer service.

Could the CSR ring the gate or the plane.

The response "you could try" is hardly re assuring.

Presumably, the passenger could have taken that advice and then be stuck sitting apart.

I recall my first flight with the family scattered around the plane.
 
copter808
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 5:36 pm

Have you thought about writing a letter to United explaining what happened and asking about their policy so you know what to do on your next trip?
 
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reffado
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 6:55 pm

I would never give up my RESERVED BOOKED seat which I PAYED for in exchange for a worse seat (in my perception). I would tell the FA to put me in J if they really wanted me to move, or just ask someone else to move.


This. Unless my seat sucks (a middle seat, for example), or I failed to get a window seat (which are the ones I like), I won't be moved because of somebody else's carelessness unless I'm being upgraded. I chose my seat, paid for it, and took all the measures.

I've been moved before to seats further back for CG reasons, and that's totally fine. But being moved to a worse seat because of others' failed travel plans is not good customer service.
 
sirdanilot
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 7:06 pm

Quoting b777a340fan (Reply 10):

I would file a complaint and be as bold as to ask the extra money for economy plus back. I don't think you will get it back, but you might as well try.

Being both in middle seats did certainly not improve your situation, no, still there could have been some options:

1. Ask for a free upgrade to economy plus at the gate, threatening (of course gently and politely) the FA that if not they would have to babysit your toddler.
2. Simply board and go sit in economy plus. What is the flight attendant gonna do? Kick you off the plane? Babysit the toddler?
3. Ask the passengers seated next to your toddler's assigned seat, saying that if they wouldn't go to your seat they would sit next to a crying toddler for the entire flight.

Though I certainly understand why you chose to do what you did to be sure, it IS exactly what the airline wanted you to do (force you into extra expenses).
 
bennett123
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 7:41 pm

Not clear how the customer could have planned better.
 
e38
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Sun May 22, 2016 8:10 pm

b777a340fan, I'm very sorry you had this experience when traveling with your 2 year old son.

You should NOT have had to pay extra to sit together.

Nowhere in your narrative do you mention that you asked a flight attendant for assistance.

Although the gate agent should have been more sensitive and receptive to your issue, had I been in your situation, I would have gone ahead and boarded the aircraft with your two different seats; then asked the flight attendants to assist you in getting seats together.

Often, you can ask a fellow passenger if they are willing to change seats; however, if you were uncomfortable doing so (which is understandable), the flight attendants do this all the time and are comfortable doing so.

I enjoy looking out the window whenever I fly and always ask for a window seat, but I have moved to a middle seat numerous times (even on long flights) so that families could sit together when requested to do so by the crew.

In your opening paragraph, you asked, "anyone encounter similar situations and what did you do?

Yes, the same thing has happened to me in the past and I requested assistance from the cabin crew and it was always resolved satisfactorily. I know there are an awful lot of "ME" people out there, but in general, I think most folks are willing to help out, particularly when it comes to families traveling together, and especially, if asked nicely and respectfully by a member of the crew. In this situation, I seriously doubt that the chief flight attendant aboard the flight from IAD to SFO would have allowed the flight to depart with you seated in one part of the cabin and your 2 year old son seated in another part of the aircraft. Flight attendants understand that gate agents are not always able to resolve seating issues, so they normally do whatever they can to accommodate situations such as the one you experienced.

e38
 
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Mon May 23, 2016 12:01 am

Quoting BlatantEcho (Reply 6):
"There should be a law"????
Good lord. It's 2016, handle your business instead of asking others to do it for you.

  

If I find I can't get seated with my son, I just won't go. There are other flights.

And worst-case scenario, go onboard and ask the person if they'd be willing to switch in exchange for you buying their drinks for the whole flight. That works wonders.

But seriously - a law? C'mon, maaaaan....   
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PGNCS
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Mon May 23, 2016 12:30 am

Quoting sirdanilot (Reply 14):
2. Simply board and go sit in economy plus. What is the flight attendant gonna do? Kick you off the plane? Babysit the toddler?

The Flight Attendants are going to be annoyed with you when the people who just got those two seats assigned to them show up and they are then summoned to sort out the situation. This is a non-starter as a tactic.
 
Zombus
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Mon May 23, 2016 10:29 am

Quoting sirdanilot (Reply 14):
3. Ask the passengers seated next to your toddler's assigned seat, saying that if they wouldn't go to your seat they would sit next to a crying toddler for the entire flight.

This. 'Nuff said  

Story also makes me wonder why in the first place the airline's reservation system didn't react to the dates-of-birth of the passengers. The few times I flew with my kids before, the reservation system made compulsory seats assignments to ensure parents and kids are seated together.
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Mon May 23, 2016 3:06 pm

Quoting sirdanilot (Reply 14):
Simply board and go sit in economy plus. What is the flight attendant gonna do? Kick you off the plane? Babysit the toddler?

They'll have to charge you for the upgrade on board.
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sirdanilot
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Mon May 23, 2016 8:01 pm

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 20):

I'd hand the flight attendant the toddler and say 'ok good luck with him, I'm in seat 35E if you need some diapers'.
 
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777Jet
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RE: UAL Wouldnt Sit Me Next To My Child

Wed May 25, 2016 3:58 am

Quoting sirdanilot (Reply 8):
I would never give up my RESERVED BOOKED seat which I PAYED for in exchange for a worse seat (in my perception). I would tell the FA to put me in J if they really wanted me to move, or just ask someone else to move.

  

If I was then threatened with removal for refusing to move and kind of had no choice I'd then present the FA with the credit card I used to purchase my flight (specific seat fee) and ask them to refund the 'seat fee' on the spot. I'd also ask if I can use their name of if they'd prefer me to assign them a pseudonym in my trip report  
Quoting reffado (Reply 13):
I won't be moved because of somebody else's carelessness unless I'm being upgraded. I chose my seat, paid for it, and took all the measures.

  

Quoting sirdanilot (Reply 14):
3. Ask the passengers seated next to your toddler's assigned seat, saying that if they wouldn't go to your seat they would sit next to a crying toddler for the entire flight.

If somebody tried that on me and I didn't already have my noise cancelling headphones on, I'd put my noise cancelling headphones on and say "what did you just say???" - "I can't hear you!!!"  
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