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

fk

February 16th, 2010
10:53 pm

Once, I flew stand-by with my 6 y/o. I was fairly certain that we would not get seats together, but confident we’d find someone to trade. We did get a passenger to switch so that we could sit together, and we wound up in the waaaaay back in the plane. The one thing to keep in mind is that if someone has a better seat than you, there is no incentive to swap, for instance, to the center seat. Our guy was only too happy to move up 20 rows. We had buddy passes, so it was a win-win for us.

DB

February 16th, 2010
11:02 pm

I can tell you right now, if I thought I was going to be sitting next to ANY 2-1/2 year old alone during a trip, I’d be BEGGING the flight attendant to switch me!!! What kind of moron would actually insist on it?

And don’t give me that crap that airlines can’t change seats to accomodate situations such as this — they change seats all the time, otherwise why are my boarding passes changed about 1 time in 10 when I fly?

And, Theresa, I’m with the others — you should have made use of the little “air distress bag” in the seat pocket. Once should have done the trick :-) One time at Six Flags, when the kids were small enough to be happy riding the Mine Train, we thought we had arranged matters so that the four of us would share the front car on one ride. Due to some shifts ahead of us, my son and I ended up in the front of the second car, and my husband and daughter ended up in the front of the first car. I politely asked the older couple who ended up seated behind my husband and daughter if they would mind switching places, but they sniffed and said, “No, that had waited too long” (please note that we weren’t asking them to delay, just switch seats.) I gracefully thanked them anyway, and waited until we were seated and seat belts were on and we started to pull away. Then I called ahead to my daughter, over the shoulder of the man: “Honey, remember — when you throw up, try to throw up over the side!” The couple in front of us froze, and the wife turned around, alarmed: “Throw up?” I cheerfully assured her that she had already thrown up once that day — motion sickness, you know — so she probably wouldn’t.

Hehe. The entire ride (which is pretty tame, admittedly), the man was tense as a board — every time my daughter’s head turned, he jumped. And the woman kept tapping my daughter on the shoulder and helpfully pointing out, “Watch out honey, there’s a big turn coming up!” THEY were green when they got off the ride. And my daughter — who has never had motion sickness in her life — wondered why those crazy adults kept tapping her on the shoulder.

Yeah, I know — evil. But fun!

DB

February 16th, 2010
11:08 pm

I’m sorta with Dawgs, here — if a car trip is less than 10 hours, I’d just as soon drive. By the time we drive or take MARTA to the airport, get there early for check in, go through security, go through TSA, get out to the gate, get loaded on the plane, wait for whatever freakin’ delay might be in place that day — heck, you’re almost there, anyway. I used to love flying, but that was when people used to dress up to fly, and meals were served with real silverware and cloth napkins. *shrug*. Actually, I wouldn’t mind taking a train on some of my East Coast travels — about the same cost, and a LOT more relaxing.

Julia

February 16th, 2010
11:14 pm

DB when the olympics were here in ga.. my son was 6 mths old.. a friend got tickets to one of the events out in athens…. no I did not get a ticket for him he was in my lap well the ticket woman demanded that I have one for him. I started taking off the snuggie he was in to hand him to her while saying, ok you watch him then. needles to say we went in with out the extra ticket :)

HB

February 17th, 2010
12:01 am

Thanks to Rob et al, I see now where I am confused — I fly Southwest way too often (unfortunately not an option in ATL). The “no frills” airline has bigger seats, doesn’t charge for checked bags (you can check 2!), doesn’t charge to book by phone, and still gives out peanuts, crackers, and soda (I nearly starved on an AA flight that got diverted a few times a few months back and ended up lasting 6.5 hours — they didn’t even give us peanuts!). There are no seat assignments — just numbers based on check-in. You board in order and pick your seat. I’ve only flown other airlines a handful of times in the past 3-4 years when conditions have rapidly declined, but I have always gotten a seat assignment when I booked directly with the airline. Families and others with special needs absolutely should be able to book by phone without a fee.

@MJG re: getting sick after boarding. Yuck — that’s terrible! That happened to a friend of mine a couple of hours into a 5-hour flight last year. I can’t imagine anything more miserable then getting sick mid-flight.

@DB, that is evil! But hilarious :).

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ditto

February 17th, 2010
7:29 am

I had boarding passes on Delta next to my child , and when we my boarding pass was scanned it spit out a new seat assignment 14 rows away from my daughter. At that point, I was told there was nothing that could be done unless ‘I’ find someone that wants to swap seats. I find the airline empoyees rude, lazy, and unwilling to help. And they have had just enough training courses on arresting people who disagree with them to get out of doing their job. They may find themselvs down the path of Eastern…

Kate

February 17th, 2010
7:41 am

On both flights this blogger told of, a satisfactory resolution was a achieved. So her real issue was that she was terrified that she may be separated from her little ones, and furious about receiving horrible customer service. Both very real reasons to be upset. Maybe this blog was more of a rant, than a report of a flawed seating policy.

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
7:45 am

@ HB, yes it was awful and the weirdest thing. None of the rest of my family got it. I was just sitting there minding my own business and all of a sudden….WHAT? Too late now, as we were heading home to Atlanta from Phoenix.

This is funny, for those who can actually get it. A few weeks ago, I was in DFW and walking past a gate where the agent announces: WE HAVE 2 EXIT ROW SEATS OPEN AND I AM LOOKING FOR 2 PASSENGERS WHO ARE WILLING TO SWITCH, AS THE FAMILY WHO HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO THEM CANNOT SIT THERE ( remember the 15 year old minimum) DO I HAVE 2 VOLUNTEERS?

NOTHING…..

Then, PEOPLE….THESE SEATS OFFER MORE LEGROOM….THIS IS LIKE SAYING…DO YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED…NOT TODAY!

I busted out laughing and called my friend who also flies quite a bit to tell her…we had a laugh together.
Yes, 2 men walked up, as they apparently got it!

MAYBE some are scared to move when a passenger just asks them to do it…who knows?

I was once sitting on the plane where a 20 ish couple came down the aisle and he said,
“Do you have the boarding pass…where are our seats? She ACTUALLY SAID, ” I can’t find it now, just sit anywhere…this looks good!” I turned around a nicely said, “You really do need to sit in the seat that has been assigned to you as someone else will probably show up for this seat.”

They ignored me and YES the flight attendant had to get involved when the 2 other passengers were standing there looking angry!

If you do not fly often and your trip is 8 hours of less, then you probably should avoid the hassle and drive. I had a meeting once in Mobile, ending at 4 p.m.. Then, I hopped in the car to proceed home.
It started POURING rain midway into the trip and was so dark out that I almost could not see.
My wipers were on fast and furious. I thought I was going to have to pull over and sleep in the car.
If I had hopped a plane at 6, I would have been sleeping on the plane to hopefully arrive here around 8:30 time change) instead of pulling into my driveway at midnight. Just a bad call on my part.

Lisa

February 17th, 2010
7:48 am

I read the woman’s blog. Sorry, but she’s full of it.

Lisa

February 17th, 2010
7:50 am

Actually, at the end of her blog (and the 100+ comments), the woman stated that she now realized it wasn’t a US Airways problem, it was an industry problem.

In other words, she admits she should be mad at the industry, not US Airways.

Funny how even though she now admits it’s not their fault, she hasn’t apologized for ranting and making accusations against them.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 17th, 2010
8:10 am

New topic coming — just have to get the kids on the school bus — I did talk with the US Airways folks late yesterday afternoon — I will post their response as soon as I hear from them —

Kathy

February 17th, 2010
8:13 am

I don’t fly much at all (last time was 5 years ago) but if I had to fly with Little E we would definitely be together.

On a side note…..I perused this woman’s blog for a few minutes. Did anyone else? If you didn’t, just spend a few minutes surrounded by the WEIRDNESS!!!!! She practices witchcraft! MJG……go take a look at the rest of the blog (especially her birth story about her daughter Rio) if you want a good laugh.

jan

February 17th, 2010
8:29 am

Just another attempt of someone wanting their 10 minutes of fame and to get something free. And you are helping her. Shame on you!!!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 17th, 2010
8:34 am

HB — I didn’t answer last night — I had eaten in the last two hours before driving to Hartford mussels, clams, oysters and lobster — I had never been so violently sick in all my life so I felt pretty certain with that much shellfish it was food poisoning. By the time the flight landed in Atlanta I was done throwing up but ached all over my entire body from throwing up for literally hours. No one in my family — my parents and Michael were with me — ever came down with anything. (For some reason my folks were on a different flight) And about a week later, I found out I was pregnant — sooo don’t know if it was food poisoning or pregnancy.

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
8:34 am

Kathy, another blogger, just now called me to tell me to click on the link, shared above, I just pasted it below:

http://childwild.com/2010/02/15/us-airways-hates-families-and-kids/

THEN visit CAST ( at the top of the screen and this tells about her family) and read the birth story of her older daughter, who is 5 or 6.

Let’s revisit after some of you have done so….explains a few things to me.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 17th, 2010
8:35 am

I actually had the norovirus a few years later and that was terribly awful but lasted much much longer — like a week!!! Ended up with an enflamed liver from it and threw up on a catscan machine — that was terrible too!!!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 17th, 2010
8:36 am

guys — I specifically linked to her bio so you could have more information about the author — her bio link is at the top of my blog.

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
8:44 am

Thanks Theresa…I will admit that I did not read EVERYTHING on her blog….whew!

Also. thanks for putting me in touch with Michelle!

Dan

February 17th, 2010
8:45 am

The woman is full of it assigned the wrong seats ??? I suspect she knew exactly what seats she had and booked anyway planning to play that card or rely on people to move to accomadate her, and if she truly didn’t realize there were different seats she is still at fault, I would like to hear the flt attendents story. But the airline can’t compel someone to move for her sake I suspect had the flt attendents made an announcment someone would have swapped with them and been polite about it (despite the fact that she deserved to be scorned for her ineptitude the children didn’t need that)
Lets hope this woman is done having kids

Michelle

February 17th, 2010
8:47 am

Well, I would NOT be separated from my small child. NO WAY! I think if you are being as nice as you can, that rubs off on others!

Catlady-when my little guy was in the car seats, the airline told me we could NOT use it on the plane unless it had FAA approval! That could be why you didn’t see very many! We would take our car seat to the plane, and then they check it at the front!

Thankfully, I’ve never had a problem with getting the seats together. I’m not sure how I would handle it. I know that when the little guy was that age, it was a nightmare! My patience was typically GONE by the time I finally got into my seat on the plane!

Even with all the airline hassle, I’d much rather fly! Most of the places I travel are about 10 hours away. There is only so long you can entertain small kids in that distance! :o)

KMM

February 17th, 2010
8:49 am

@ Lisa – what?! Just because ALL the airlines are stupid, lazy and unwilling to create a better software system that would solve this problem, she should apologize for being angry at US Air? I gotta say, the airlines do absolutely nothing to win our business. Maybe if the federal gov’t would stop subsidizing them, and they had to actually earn our business to stay afloat, we’d see some changes.

MomsRule

February 17th, 2010
8:50 am

I read the airline rant and then part of the birth story of the first daughter. The rant wasn’t bad but once you read part of the birth story it definately changes your perspective. W O W

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
8:55 am

@ MomsRule…ya gotta wonder after you read more about the family. Kathy called me to tell me to READ and I am scratching my head! Not sure I would want to sit by them :).

MomsRule

February 17th, 2010
9:02 am

@MJG, yeah…I’m not really wondering anymore. LOL

Dan

February 17th, 2010
9:03 am

Not sure why people think reading the bios and birth story, changes the view. I suppose many could make generalizations based on her obvious eccentricities, and loudly proclaimed aversion to the more common societal norms. It still does not change the fact that she should have been better prepared and relied on planning rather than the charity of others. Not saying charity in this case would not be the good or noble thing to do, just saying one should be grateful for charity that is given without expectations, but one has no right to demand charity and be annoyed when it is not forthcoming. As a side note I do find it ironic (but not surprising)that one who proselytizes a life of live and let live view of life would so adamantly demand someone else take care of her needs

Dan

February 17th, 2010
9:07 am

KMM why in the world do you think it is a software problem??? I fly all the time in groups and alone (and have traveled with my 1.95 year old nieces ;o) rarely is there a seating problem and if there is no seat available that suits your needs you wait for the next flt! 100% the womans fault

JJ

February 17th, 2010
9:34 am

@Dawgs2010 – I feel the exact same way. I would much rather drive to my destination than get on a airplane. I love a good road trip. Especially with my iPod and MY music.

I prefer to see the country from the car than 5 miles above the earth. Now there are instances when I chose to fly, but give me a car and I’m a happy camper. One of these days I am going to by a camper or an RV and have the freedom to “pick my own address”…..

DB

February 17th, 2010
9:36 am

The author does seem to rant quite a bit . . .

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 17th, 2010
9:39 am

new topic up — Should families Go Green for Lent??? very interesting references to other articles on theories about Lent and the environment —

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2010/02/17/should-families-go-green-for-lent/

cld

February 17th, 2010
10:05 am

In short, my answer is no. I would NOT fly separated from my toddler. But I place some of the blame on the woman also. She acknowledges that she saw the assignments and didn’t speak up immediately – that’s where she missed her opportunity. She should have asked for a reassignment the moment she saw the seats, and should have asked to be bumped to the next flight if new seats weren’t available (ugh – waiting for the next flight with kids in tow?!).

I have almost always seen seat assignments when booking a flight. However, I also have gone through that process, only to have our assignments changed when we print our boarding passes (happened the last two times we flew). In one of those cases, I was seven months pregnant and boarding a flight from Phoenix to Atlanta. I had originally been assigned my chosen aisle seat, with hubby sitting next to me in the middle (seeing as I knew I would need to stretch my legs and make trips to the bathroom). Well, wouldn’t you know it, the seat assignments that printed on our boarding passes were not the ones we’d originally chosen. Instead of an aisle + middle, we had a middle + window. When we checked in, we tried to switch seats but were told the flight was booked and couldn’t. We got on the plane and I decided to use the restroom while everyone else was still boarding. I came back to my seat to find the aisle-seat occupant had taken her seat. I stood next to her and said “excuse me” hoping she’d look up, see my belly, and make room for me to get to my seat. Without even looking up from her magazine, she pulled her knees toward her body and said “can you squeeze?” I didn’t even answer, but dragged my belly past her. She didn’t look up until my belly button brushed her forehead. I made her move three more times during that flight, so I could go to the bathroom.

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
10:11 am

Ya know…this may be kinda like those who will let folks merge in front of you in traffic ( me most of the time) and those who glare at you even when you have your turn signal on and look desperate to get over to the next lane.

I am not talking about those who are ultra important and zoom to the front of the
“lane closing in 2 miles” line and then cut you off to get in at the last minute.

Some folks are generally ready to assist and some are not.

DB

February 17th, 2010
10:43 am

@cld — did you offer to switch with the woman so she could have the window seat? Just curious. I know that, if I had been the woman on the aisle, I would have traded with you in a second!

TechMom

February 17th, 2010
11:26 am

Just read her blog… Why in the world did she give her toddler to her sister who already had a baby on her lap and then not go pick the child up out of the aisle while it was throwing a tantrum??? Sounds to me like she’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Sure the flight attendant might have been a rude, b*tch (I’ve experienced lots of those) but that’s no reason not to hold your 2-year old on your lap until the remaining passengers have boarded and try to resolve the situation. Maybe she was trying to prove the point that no one would want to sit near her 2 year old because she was throwing a fit.

wmsmommy

February 17th, 2010
3:06 pm

I cannot imagine the person who was seated next to this woman’s child would not GLADLY give up his/her seat.

catlady

February 17th, 2010
6:09 pm

Michelle, well, yeah, it was FAA approved. I don’t think she would put a child in the car at all unless it was certified by every agency known to man. But my poor SIL carried it on his back like an overburdened turtle.

Folks, I get tired of folks thinking that THEY are the most important, and that because of ….(you fill in the blank…) they should be catered to. Leaving PR we had the security line stopped by a family traveling with a mentally handicapped (I guess) child. Stopped all of us to accommodate the family. Now, I would have been fine if it had been a physical handicap that made standing and waiting difficult, but the child could move just fine.

The mother in this story figured everyone would give in to her. That makes me want to push back, just as reflex. Part of my sinful nature.

Meme

February 18th, 2010
8:49 am

I would never allow them to separate me from my small children. Heck, I pitched a fit with Delta once because they were going to separate me and my boyfriend on a flight. He had made both reservations and according to our printouts at first we were together. Then at the last minute they wanted to change it. Get to the airport early enough and hopefully they can fix the seating problem.

FCM

February 22nd, 2010
8:50 pm

I worked for the airlines and never sat without my child(ren). I flew standby. You go early to the gate, you make it known your flying with a small child (this is standby or frequent flyer). You call ahead if it is a ticket. Another thing you take the car seat to the gate. IF they cannot accomodate the child in a seat (they end up in your lap) they will tag the seat to be the last item on the plane. The ramp folks probably have kids. They understand. They will make sure it gets on and better yet, it is waiting at the gate–not baggage claim–for you when you get to your destination. Put snacks and fun stuff in your carry on…and strap your “purse” to you as a fanny pack.

If your to stupid to plan how to travel with kids, stay the hell home.

eliza

February 26th, 2010
4:43 pm

I’m going with the airline on this one. This is the result of the “precious’ syndrome so many parents have. Yes, I have kids before you ask. My child is sooo precious I should be accomadated. You mean to tell me girlfriend had no idea of how to travel with a small child? She had no idea you could pick your seat ahead of time to insure correct seating?