Airlines are making it harder for passengers to sit
together, and the most obvious group is families. Recently I had to make
several calls, one of which ended in an agent telling me I could pay $60 for a
premium seat in order to sit next to my 4-year-old. Seriously? Just to
guarantee that I sit next to my own child on an international flight.
Ridiculous? You can say that again. How can you get around this stupidity the
airlines are throwing at us? We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves.
Never underestimate the power of the telephone. The second
you see that you are separated from any member of your family, especially your
children, call the airline to get your seats reassigned. Some phone agents will
tell you to buy a premium seat to guarantee you sit with your child. Tell them
thanks but no thanks. Call back and see if someone else gives you a different
answer. Ask them to check the back row to see if those seats are still
available. Yes, you may have to sit near the bathrooms, but many airlines keep
those seats open in case traveling parties need to sit together. Call until you
get the issue resolved. Do not wait until you get to the airport if you don’t
2. Talk to the ticket
If you get to the airport and find that you are not seated
together, ask the ticket agent (calmly) if they can work some magic for you.
Try not to let them pass the buck on to the gate agent, which in most cases is
the ticket agent at the counter when you are checking your bags anyway. If they
see your small child with you, sometimes they can do some quick work to get you
3. Talk to the gate
Calmly explain to the gate agent that you are not seated
with your child and see what they can do. Sometimes they will tell you to talk
to the flight attendants or your fellow passengers, but try your best not to
let it get that far. It is hard on the flight crew to have to switch seats
around while the rest of the plane is boarding.
4. Talk to the flight
Paste on your winning smile and explain your situation to
the flight attendants. They may ask you to go to your assigned seats first.
This will help them figure out whom to grab to swap with you. If your child is
too small to be on his own, stay with him and put your bag on your assigned
seat while the flight attendants try to work some magic.
5. Talk to your fellow
As your very last resort you may have to start begging your
fellow passengers to swap seats with you so you can sit with your kids. A
friend was once separated from her toddler and the person sitting next to her
child wouldn’t swap seats. She finally tossed the diaper bag at the passenger
and walked away to her seat. Suddenly that passenger was singing a different
tune. This was an extreme case. Most people do not want to sit next to your
toddler on a flight. Ask calmly and always give your fellow passenger the
better of your seats. If you have an aisle, get ready to give it up for a
middle so you can sit next to your window seat lovin’ kid.
Above all else, KEEP CALM. The last thing anyone needs,
especially your children, is for you to start screaming at anyone and everyone
who could possibly resolve the situation for you. You may have to explain your
situation 20 times before you are seated with your kids, but stand your ground.
You should not have to pay to sit next to your child when you already bought a
seat, booked your tickets at the same time, and even inputted your child’s age.
More often than not you will be able to resolve things online or on the phone,
but when that doesn’t happen, just relax. No one wants to sit next to your
tired toddler who just wants his mommy for the next six hours of the flight.