Mom fights US Airways via her blog: Would you sit separated from your 2-year-old?

Would you sit separated from your 2-year-old on a cross-country flight? One mom says that’s what US Airways expected her to do when the airline assigned her a seat rows away from her 2-year-old and 5-year-old.

The outraged mother is protesting the treatment she and her children recently received on a US Airways flight via her mom blog. Her headline declares: US Airways hates families and kids. She said she was afraid to make too big of a fuss on the plane because people get arrested and charged with felonies for disobeying flight attendants, but now she is determined to vent her anger and frustration.

Her blog is being retweeted heavily so I wanted to share it with you. I don’t know this author or her blog, but I thought it was interesting and a topic we have talked about before (flying with kids).

See what you think about her story and tell us how you would have handled the situation. Would you sit separate from your 2-year-old? Would you pitch a fit on a flight knowing you could be charged with a felony?

Another blogger has followed up the story with tips on how to deal with the situation if you are ever separated from your kids on a flight.

I have left a message with US Airways media relations department.  I will publish a response from US Airways as soon as we hear back.

Editor’s Update: I spoke with Andrew Christie, US Airways spokesperson on Wednesday afternoon. He said he wanted to stress that in no way does US Airways dislike families or children. He said a large portion of their airline’s business is family travel to places such as San Diego, Orlando, Mexico and Hawaii. He says if you book through US Airways Web site you should always be able to pull up a seating chart and choose your seats when you buy your tickets. He said if you do book through a company that doesn’t give you that option or if for some reason that option isn’t working when you book, call US Airways as soon as you can and they can assign your seats over the phone. He emphasized that parties needing to travel together, such as parent and child, should try to obtain seating assignments as soon as possible before arriving at the airport. He says at the airport seating is first-come, first-serve. Gate agents are not allowed to unseat another passenger.

90 comments Add your comment

I am whatever you say I am

February 16th, 2010
2:00 pm

HECK NO I WOULD NOT SIT AWAY FROM MY 2 YEAR OLD!!!!!!
ARE THEY SERIOUS????

Becky

February 16th, 2010
4:26 pm

Not NO, but H3ll no, would I sit that far away from my child..I guess what I would like to know though..When you book your flight, don’t they seat you togeher? I’ve always had seats side by side, so I don’t know why she had this problem..

LSH

February 16th, 2010
4:42 pm

Why didn’t someone sitting around them offer to swap?

HB

February 16th, 2010
4:46 pm

Interesting. Do most airlines assign seats after purchase? I don’t think you can always get seats on travel sites (Expedia, Orbitz), but I just bought a ticket on Delta’s site for the first time in a few years and picked my seats before finalizing the purchase. I think Airtran will let you do the same but they charge you $5 or 10. I would think by purchasing over the phone with an agent you’d be able to specify seats together (if they are available on that flight). I usually fly SW and families of children under 5 are given high enough priority to find seats together. I just have trouble buying that this mom didn’t know that they might get separated unless she never flies. I think she hoped for the best and got angry when it didn’t work out. By far the most amusing thing, though, is the guy who seemed to be willing to sit next to an unattended 2-y-o rather than give up his window seat! That would have been a flight to remember! Yikes!

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 16th, 2010
4:47 pm

Not to discount that US Airways would be in the wrong on this….why does a non tech savvy guy like myself check in print my boarding passes over the net for myself and my son when we fly together the night before we fly and a lady who makes a living on the internet just discount the value in that? What’s that “ounce of prevention” saying? Seems to me when you show up to the airport to get your boarding passes, you’ve missed two preliminary opportunities to get seated together…selecting your seats when you book being the first one, printing your boarding passes early being the second.

i have a feeling there is more to this story than meets the eye after reading a few of her archives. Do we know how early before her flight she arrived at the airport? She said she noticed that the boarding passes were wrong when they were issued to her…yet she waited until she arrived at the gate to try to get it changed. Something just doesn’t smell right here.

I am whatever you say I am

February 16th, 2010
5:09 pm

The woman is an idiot! you can book your flights to sit with your children and if there is a problem while booking you can contact the airline.
Also when you check in, that is your moment of opportunity to make the ticket agents aware that you are traveling with children and would like to be seated together.
Since the children are young, most airlines would find a way to accomodate.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 16th, 2010
5:10 pm

From the other article that goes with this I guess it happens when you use miles to get your seats — the other article makes it sound like it happens more often than one would think –

I am whatever you say I am

February 16th, 2010
5:14 pm

The woman is still an idiot
I used to work for the airlines.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 16th, 2010
5:23 pm

I’m thinking that US Air was in a bit of a no win situation on this one. Let’s assume she actually got to the boarding gate an hour before flight time….most of those people, like myself, who prepared in advance to select the seat(s) they wanted have done just…reserved their seats. This leaves whatever is left and I don’t really see where US Air could, on her whim, start doing the musical at the moment she decided that is what she needed.

Personally, if I took the time to reserve my aisle or window seat, this lady came to me telling me that she wanted me to trade her middle seat with me, I would do it for the sake of her kids, but I’d be as mad at her as she was with the airline. There’s no reason she shouldn’t prepare to travel with children at least as much as many people prepare to travel alone.

She still had an out too, she could have refused to take that flight in accordance with airline policy and worked out the seating arrangement for the next flight. Oh…but that would probably have been an inconvenience for her.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
5:30 pm

As someone who flies at least 20 trips or 40-50 actual flights per year….I find this amusing.

HB TODAY IS THE DAY I AM GOING TO AGREE WITH YOU, SO PLEASE DON’T FAINT.

When air passengers are ONLY concerned about saving $12 per person and book on Orbitz or Expedia: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. The seat your get MAY be connected to the price you pay or ( even worse) what is left on the plane when the last minute discounts are posted.
CAN ANYONE SAY THE MIDDLE SEAT IN THE ROW RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE LAV ON A 5 HOUR FLIGHT?

Guess what….airlines take care of those who fly more often. If you hop around for a cheap ticket and expect the royal treatment….WAKE UP.

I fly Delta 95% of the time. Is it always the cheapest…..NO! Do they take care of me….usually.
I will fly Delta if I have to drive 2 hours once I get there ( to a client), over flying a random airline and that is just me. Have I ever had bad service YES and I check back in with Delta …they generally make it right, as they value my business: aha…wish Bank of America felt that way :) I book online and can usually get a premium seat as I typically fly more than once a month.

FLIGHT ATTENDANTS ( not stewardesses BIG MISTAKE) are not required to get any other passenger to change seats with you, so that you are comfortable. Guess what…another passenger may have paid twice what you did for you seat and DOES NOT WANT TO MOVE. do you blame them…even if the switch seat is o.k…..who wants to hassle with getting up and pulling everything out under the seat and in the overhead…not me. Would I ever do it…YES, if the person looked like they had a clue…most casual fliers do not.

( Reminded of the couple , 10 years ago, who boarded in Minneapolis with fishing poles in tow. The lures were swaying to the left and right , hitting passengers in the head, as they proceeded down the aisle and held their poles over their heads…are you kidding me?)

That being said, I would not want to put a 2 year old in a seat without a relative near them.
I have put my ( then) 5 year old in this position…not too thrilled but that is the way it is.

@ Tiger..yes, it seems like you would check this out before you get to the airport ( when there are more chances to get things straightened out as there are more seats that have not been assigned) but we all know that some folks have NO common sense. They just expect everyone else to work things out so they can be happy.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
5:32 pm

Oh yeah FF miles are not always a convenient mode but if you plan ahead, you can usually work things out…..PLAN AHEAD.

catlady

February 16th, 2010
5:38 pm

I cannot imagine ANY OTHER passenger being willing to be next to most flying kids! Are we sure this is for real?

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
5:42 pm

@catlady..I did not want to mention it but am happy you did. I book exit row, so I never have to sit next to anyone under 15 …. I love kids, as you do, but not next to me on the plane :)

catlady

February 16th, 2010
5:51 pm

I flew to PR recently for my daughter’s wedding. Flew with the elder daughter, her husband, and my 2 year old granddaughter. She was the best behaved on the flight, including most of the adults. Many of the kids were awful. Apparently the airlines don’t enforce the rules about having a car seat for a child? We were the only people who used one. I was glad to sit next to them (across the aisle).

On the way back we were separated. Daughter, SIL, and granddaughter were near some absolutely AWFUL children and their (clueless? drunk? sedated?) parents. I was near a guy who seemed to think he was Jimmy Buffet, but no awful kids.

I can’t understand why this woman didn’t take care of this much earlier. Was she just looking for trouble? Does she feel a sense of triumph if others give in to her (like line jumpers onto the freeway?) At any rate, I feel for the kids and other passengers, but she needs to do the right thing by her kids. HER responsibility. Period.

fk

February 16th, 2010
6:47 pm

I think it was this mother’s responsibility when she booked the flight to know that she and her children would be seated together. Why is this someone else’s fault?

Julia

February 16th, 2010
6:57 pm

too bad they cant post EVERY where .. keep your child quiet and behaved or we throw all of your family off during flight…

Jeff in Roswell

February 16th, 2010
7:22 pm

Interesting. My son and I have flown together numerous times and only once were are seats not together. He was three at the time and I simply asked the gate representatives and the flight attendants. They didn’t make a big deal out of it. They asked a gentleman if he would mind moving and he obliged and that was it. Why does everyone have to make such a big deal out of it?

smh

February 16th, 2010
7:22 pm

No way I would fly separated from such young children. With that said, I gladly pay the extra fees up front to ensure our seats our together. Done.

Tired

February 16th, 2010
7:30 pm

People, get over yourselves with the judgment, blaming, and assumptions already. I’ve had an experience on an airline where my child and I were assigned separate seats. I asked someone to switch and he was willing. Very nice man. In a perfect world people would do all those things you all suggested, but it doesn’t happen all the time.

zoe

February 16th, 2010
7:50 pm

The last time I flew, I could not choose my seats at purchase. I bought two at the same time, but when I tried to choose seats online, the airline website wouldn’t let me. I called as soon as I purchased the tickets and told them my predicament. The response was I’d have to wait until I got to the gate for seats. When I arrived at the airport with a two year old and the car seat I planned on taking on the plane for her to sit in, I explained the situation to the gate agent. I was told they could not move anyone unless someone volunteered. My response was that I would happy to sit separated from my 2 year old, I needed a break, but I didn’t think the person next to her would be so inclined. Within minutes my seat was changed.

KIM

February 16th, 2010
7:57 pm

Ugh, you entitled parents. She wants to use FF miles, doesn’t want to pay to get her seats assigned ahead of time, probably was late (the KIDS!!!!), wants other people to be inconvenienced B please.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 16th, 2010
8:09 pm

You can’t always rely on the kindness of strangers — We were flying back from Connecticut one time and I was very ill. I don’t know to this day if it was food poisoning or early pregnancy but I started throwing in the rental car place when we returned the car. Violent throwing up. I threw up there and then for the two hours before the flight from Hartford — you have no idea how gross it is to throw up in an airport toilet. So we get on the flight and I had literally been wretching for hours!!! My husband had the window seat and I was in the middle seat. this man was on the end. I told him I had been throwing up for three hours and could he possible switch to either seat so I could have a clear shot to the bathroom and he REFUSED to swap!!!!! I have never been so sick in my entire life. I had to run for the bathroom multiple times to vomit on the plane and he still wouldn’t switch!!! You can’t count on people seeing reason at all.

Jeff

February 16th, 2010
8:26 pm

I would not sit separated from my child. I will walk off the plane and deal with it later.

JATL

February 16th, 2010
8:33 pm

NO WAY IN HELL! This is nuts! I do agree with MJG and HB -why didn’t she square this away with the airline beforehand? I would never book a flight and then show up assuming the computer somehow knew my children were 3 and 1. This is the type of thing you take care of in the beginning. I think US Airways should have tried to accommodate them, but I think some personal responsibility is in order here.

I also agree with catlady -who on earth wants to sit next to a strange 2 year old? I would gladly swap my seat with the parent to avoid that one!

JATL

February 16th, 2010
8:37 pm

And sorry Theresa -I wouldn’t have swapped with you. I’m extremely claustrophobic and always fly in an aisle seat. I had rather be puked on than sit in the middle or aisle seat!

Dawgs2010

February 16th, 2010
8:39 pm

Nothing about the airlines surprises me now. They are terrible. I drive anywhee I need to go. I do not mind driving 12 hours. It is just like a day at work and I treat it that way. It is nothing for me to spend 12 hours working. 12 hours in the car is just the same but more relaxing. So what if it takes longer. I am at peace and can do whatever I fell like it.

The airlines take everything from you. You cannot complain or voice your displeasure or you will be punished. This is before and after your rectal exam and taking off your shoes to prove you are not going to blow up the plane with a homemade shoe-bomb!

We have a fine Interstate Highway system. Use it and save yourselves the trouble!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 16th, 2010
8:42 pm

JATL — I like to believe at some time, some place that man was punished in some similar way. it was terrible!

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
8:45 pm

Folks…when passengers who bought a bargain ticket want to play musical chairs and delay the flight departure….causing fines to be paid by the airlines….whose fault is it?

The gate agents just want to get everyone out of the gate and on the plane and the flight attendants/pilots want to get everyone in their seats and ready for take off. FYI, some folks have to get to the next airport on time to connect on another flight.

Cheap seats with unruly customers does not make the airline feel inclined to make everyone happy and pay the late departure fees for staying at the gate too long.

Here is something interesting…passengers won their right not to sit on the tarmac but may have ultimately lost the fight:

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-02-16-tarmac-delays_N.htm?csp=travel

T…I have been ill in the plane bathroom and it is NOT fun. About 6 years ago, I made so many trips to the lav that I thought I was going to pass out. I told my son, if I am not out in 10 minutes…tell Dad he has to come in and carry me out. I too did not know if it was food poisoning or the flu…no one else here got it. YUCK!

Elliot Garcia

February 16th, 2010
8:52 pm

You can’t fix stupid and that is what this woman is….

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
8:53 pm

@ Dawgs….kinda hard for me to have a meeting in Alaska on Friday and get back on Monday.
Others may need to go overseas! I am not certain it is the airline’s fault for what has happened in the security lines…is it?

Do you drive in the Atlanta traffic? I am not at peace driving from Gwinnett County to the airport…45 miles can take 2 hours. I do find driving in Idaho or Oregon peaceful.

HB

February 16th, 2010
8:53 pm

Um, Theresa, without knowing the cause of your ailment or if it was contagious (how did you know it wasn’t norovirus?!), you chose to get on a plane where there was a good chance you wouldn’t have a straight shot to the bathroom anyway (during takeoff/landing, unsafe turbulance, or just if it’s occupied) possibly making it a really gross trip for everyone, and you think the guy with the aisle seat was the one being unreasonable and inconsiderate?

Dawgs2010

February 16th, 2010
9:01 pm

motherjanegoose: Give me a break. You know what I am talking about. Those distances absolutly require a plane trip. If you were taking your 2 year old to Alaska or “overseas” you would surely check and double check to make sure you had seats together.

Wait…if you were taking your child to Alaska for a meeting over the weekend, then you get what you deserve.

Jeff in Roswell

February 16th, 2010
9:07 pm

MJG, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a bargain ticket or not. If you are paying full fare for a ticket – you’re paying to much. Do people have labels on their forehead saying how much they paid for their tickets? If you people don’t want to deal with the cattle (coach) then use your funds for 1st class. Otherwise, deal with it.

Jeff in Roswell

February 16th, 2010
9:10 pm

Theresa, you should have vomited in the bag while at your seat. I wonder how the guy would have liked it then. Sometimes, if people are resistant to doing what’s right, then you have to shame them into it… they’ll usually come around.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
9:11 pm

@ HB, I was not sick when I got on the plane and it hit me while we were airborne. NO FUN!

@ Dawgs…I took my daughter with me to Alaska 3 years ago. I got permission to take her out of school from each one of her teachers and we had the assignments. I was picking her up at noon on Th for a 5:00 flight. When I went to check her out at the 9th grade office, the secretary gave me all sorts of grief. I told her that either she was coming with me or going home with her. NO ONE would be at our house as my husband was meeting us at the airport and my son was at UGA. “Well..” she said, ” will she be back in school tomorrow?” HELLO DOES SHE KNOW WHERE ALASKA IS? No, we will be back on W.

I guess I was thinking business travel as you mentioned:

I do not mind driving 12 hours. It is just like a day at work and I treat it that way. It is nothing for me to spend 12 hours working. 12 hours in the car is just the same but more relaxing. So what if it takes longer. I am at peace and can do whatever I fell like it.

Sorry to be such a moron! I WOULD NEVER SPEND 12 HOURS IN THE CAR WITH A 2 YEAR OLD!!! I never have!

Flying Dad

February 16th, 2010
9:13 pm

This happened to me last year with my 3 and 5 year old. I used points for one ticket and paid for the other two. Reserved seats, three together. Checked in online and printed boarding passes at home. Showed up at the airport the next day and the ticket agent gave me a new boarding pass, seating me several rows away from my children. The flight was fully booked, and the only course of action I had was to beg the person who got assigned my seat to switch with me. It all worked out, but I was HOT when it happened.

Fred

February 16th, 2010
9:18 pm

I’m with you Dawg. I don’t fly. I see no reason to be treated like a criminal before I board a plane and to be treated like a piece of dog dung by an airborne waitress with a belly full of self importance after I board. They were bad before all this happened, I can only imagine in horror what they are like now.

HB, I’m not important like you are so there is no place I have to be so quickly that I can’t drive. If someone needs me there faster, they can charter me a plane from Peachtree Dekalb.

Dawgs2010

February 16th, 2010
9:19 pm

motherjanegoose: you just don’t get it. Why is it so important that the two year old be included in the trip plans? All of this is irrelevant if you just leave your child behind while you travel. Arrangements can be made ahead of time.

I have four kids and you can be assured I do not want to fly or drive long distance with them. When I do, they have a Nintendo DS, a PSP, a DVD player and countless books to pass the time.

But NEVER would I take a 2 year old on a plane. it is bad enough flying alone.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
9:21 pm

@ jeff, when you are booking a ticket to go to a meeting, you usually do not spend a lot of time jostling for cheap fares. Sometimes it works out and sometimes not. I am frugal but do have to make sure I can get to my meeting when I am supposed to be there. It does no one any good if I got a $198 fare the day AFTER I need to be there.

ALERT…the airlines are not staying in business with those who buy the $49 one way fares to Florida. How many folks can drive Miami, Florida for $49. Airlines count on the customers who will keep them in business not the intermittent travelers who only fly if the fare is a REAL bargain.
Just the facts.

If those of us who travel for business ALWAYS need to fly First Class, some of the rest of you will be paying for it one way or the other. Certainly not for me but for someone else whose business you use. If we all just think of someone else besides ourselves ( who may have paid more for an aisle seat and does not want to give it up for a 2 year old) things could be o.k. Not so much in today’s world!

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
9:23 pm

@ Dawg…guess I do not get it…night all.

Jeff in Roswell

February 16th, 2010
9:29 pm

How often would you be asked to give up your seat? Would it really hurt you for once to just move? I mean, I think you still are going to arrive at your destination. You’re still going to be there at the same time. It’s not like you are being asked to move on every flight. I have moved before. IT”S NO BIG DEAL. If it makes things easier, get over yourself and move. My son is now 5, but he and I flew many times, while he was 2, 3, 4, and now 5. As far as I know, no one on the flights we were on were scarred for life. I don’t think anyone died either.

Rob

February 16th, 2010
9:31 pm

It is amazing how wrong so many people can be. I fly virtually every week. I booked flights today. I was unable to select my seats even though the flights are more than a week ahead. They are from Atlanta to Toronto. They are not cheap seats and I have Platinum Medallion status. I will not find out about my seats until I reach the gate. On a flight from China to Atlanta on a Delta code share I was unable to get seats together with my wife and 4.5 year old child even 2 weeks in advance. I contacted Delta and because of my skymiles status was able to finally get 2 seats together after 10 days and 2 or 3 days before my departure flight. Anyone defending the airlines simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. If you don’t do everything right you get charged crazy rebooking fees, etc. If the airline doesn’t have a pilot or flight attendant everyone waits, misses connecting flights, etc. Most flight attentands seem to hate their jobs and their customers are an inconvenience.

Jeff in Roswell

February 16th, 2010
9:32 pm

MJG – If the airlines are going to offer those cheap fares, then I’m going to take them up on it!

Former f/a

February 16th, 2010
9:35 pm

I was a flight attendant for 11 years and we cannot force anyone out of a seat. We can suggest or try to bribe with free drinks or the like. If the gate agent could not take care of the issue on the ground and other passengers were not willing to switch seats, she should have just exited the plane with her children and caught the next flight.

Meg

February 16th, 2010
9:37 pm

When I booked my flight on Northwest, I chose seats together for myself and my 3 year old. Then when the confirmation came the seats were two rows apart. I called immediately and said that was unacceptable, and was told that there was nothing that could be done. They told me to get on the plane and ask people to trade with me. I started yelling at the operator, very unlike me, but what’s the point of selecting the seats online and giving the ages if all of that information is just disregarded? Then, miracle of miracles, they “found” an extra row…the 13th, at the back of the plane. They gave us those seats and all was well.

So my advice is to call ahead and yell when you can’t get arrested for it.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
9:45 pm

@ rob, wow I am not Platinum and I have never not known my seat before I got to the airport.
I do not lfy as much as you do for sure and I do not fly out of the country, so maybe that is it.

@ Jeff, I do like specials and enjoy using the coupons for restaurants but eating ( for me) is a bit more flexible than traveling. HMMM not sure how often I would like to move when I am a pre-board customer and am already settled into my seat ….does a middle seat in the back row look good…not so much?

I just realized something….since I almost always book an exit row, I would virtually never be asked to move as you have to be 15 to sit in that row!!!

Yes, the cheap fares are to fill seats….they keep the airlines from losing money…I think.

Rob

February 16th, 2010
9:46 pm

When I booked today’s flights I went to select my seats and the message said that my seats would be selected for me based on my seating preferences. I believe the flight wa sbooked on one airlne under their codeshare but it will likely be operated by another airline.

Computers are very powerful. The airlines could easily identify small children and elderly persons needing assistance if they wanted to. The software could then book the seats as a block of 2 or 3 or not take the reservation. The airlines could and should also waive extra charges for calling to make a reservation when a small child or person needing extra assistance is traveling. We do this with handicap parking, ramps, etc. An airline that cared about their customers would encourage their customers to call and make their reservations when traveling with special needs. Not by charging them a booking fee for calling and making a reservation. For people that fly and do not have frequent flyer status I beleieve their is an extra charge of $20 to $25 per ticket if you call and book your reservation. And they may still tell you that they can not assign your seat because it may be on another airline’s plane.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2010
9:50 pm

@ Meg, sometimes the aircraft itself has been switched and then everything goes crazy. It could be a completely different type of plane with different seat configurations. If you were in a row with 3 seats: aisle middle and window but the new plane had only aisle and window…that is why your seat could have vanished…I am just saying. I KNOW it is frustrating as I have had my seat changed for this very reason!

This is why I laugh when friends tell me, “I would love to have your job and travel all over the country!” Yeah right…it is not always fun! Do not get me started on baggage that does not show up….AAARGH!

Rob

February 16th, 2010
9:51 pm

motherjanegoose it happens all the time. Delta has so many codeshare partners it is completely out of control. If you book Delta and it is a flight operated by AeroMexico, China airlines, a smaller commuter airline I do not believe that Delta can assign the seats (maybe some). I have been told this so many times I can’t believe it.

It is also a well known fact that airlines overbook flights. How can they assign seats when they are overbooking flights?

Julia

February 16th, 2010
10:38 pm

theresa, the witch I am I would have turned and puked in his lap