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Opening Magic Kingdom

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Airlines Impose Seat Assignment Fees




The Associated Press released an article yesterday about airlines adding or increasing fees for seat assignments on flights possibly forcing family vacationers to be separated during flights.  Click here to read the article.

The premise is that airlines want to cater to their “bread and butter” or frequent fliers so to speak.  The airlines will hold back blocks of seats and offer them at an increased charge or to the frequent fliers.  Passengers who refuse to pay the fee for an assigned seat or don’t know they need to pay a fee may separated from their traveling party throughout the plane.

We have a frequent flier account with multiple airlines and the boy has racked up enough miles to keep us in magazine subscriptions.  We have yet to be burdened by the extra fees for seat assignments.  And, as a family of 3 we most likely have an advantage over larger families.  Yet, I’m having difficulty swallowing this concept.

As the article states, the airlines can only take this so far.  The tipping point may be when frequent fliers are having to supervise children who are separated from their parents during flights.  Maybe the article needs to be re-titled “Airlines Offer Free Babysitting or Child Care During Flights.”  I’m envisioning an episode of Modern Family where the children are scattered in seats throughout the plane and annoying the passengers who paid extra for their assigned seats or the frequent fliers in the aisle or window seats.  At what point will those folks want their money back when they offer to give up a pre-paid premium seat to a parent who has been separated from their child? 

I also envision a David Kelley written episode of Harry’s Law in which something happens to a child who is seated away from their parents and the parents decide to sue the airline.

Though I write this tongue in cheek, I know that some parents will be just fine with their child sitting somewhere else on an airplane and it will be up to the flight attendants and passengers to work it out.  Those who have pre-paid for a specific seat most likely will not want to move without some form of compensation.  Either that or be seated next to an unaccompanied minor. 

When we were at the airport waiting for our flight home from our last trip, there was a television show being broadcast that was about saving money.  I remember it was a man who was hosting, but I don’t remember the name of the show.  He pointed out to the airlines, that instead of spending money to refit planes with larger overhead bin compartments, that it would be more cost effective to stop charging for checked bags.  Hmm. . . What a concept!  And, while the airlines haven’t bought into the logic yet, maybe they will eventually see the error of their ways with customer complaints with the new fees for seats policy.

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