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When You Can’t Sit Next to Your Own Kid on a Plane

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.

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1. Call, call and call again

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 have to.

2. Talk to the ticket agent

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 seated together.

3. Talk to the gate agent

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 attendant

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 passengers

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.

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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.

Image via brainfunked, photopin cc

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