Fees for Families?
FAQ Friday is back, and this time — we’re tackling an issue that was in the news:
I purchased four tickets from tri-cities to Orlando months ago. I was told that I could have my family seated together. My wife and I have a 7-year old and a 5-year old. When I got my seat assignments, we were not together. I was told to call within 24 hours of flight and it would be taken care of. I called today and now am told it will be an additional $10 per ticket! My children have never flown before and may not get to now. They will be terrified if we cannot sit together and we will not go if this cannot be taken care of. Can they do this?
Robert of Kingsport, TN.
First of all, how awesome that this will be your kids first flight. I’ll never forget mine! But, without further adieu, onto the question and media debacle at hand.
The media has been reporting that airlines are now charging “fees” for families to sit together.. and allow me to be the first to call them out on this: THAT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE! No airline has initiated collecting fees so a family can sit together. None of them. United no longer allows families to pre-board, but that’s it! The media is taking an old news story and spinning it into something else. For years now airlines have been charging extra for Choice Seats. These seats are usually the windows and aisles for the first 10 or so rows, as well as the bulkhead and exit seats. They can charge more these seats because most travelers want to sit there. Whether its the leg room, not a middle, close to the front, over the wing, or whatever — airlines know they can get the money from these seats so they sell them usually around $5-$35 more.
So, because those seats are not allowed to be selected (because the fee hasn’t been paid) there’s now LESS seats to choose from in the coach cabin, and even less together. That’s where the media got this idea from that there’s a “fee for families” but it’s simply not the case.
What you can do to fix your situation is talk to an agent the airport. Sometimes airlines “block” a row of seats together for situations such as yours. Additionally, you can check online 23 hours prior to departure and check the seatmap again. By now folks may have “upgraded” into those choice seats, into first class, etc., and more seats in coach are free and maybe even some together.
When you make your next reservation, in the future, get seat assignments right away. Avoid flying on airlines which don’t offer assigned seating until day-of (Southwest is different, they have an open seating policy and they allow families to board after zone A regardless of their boarding zone to ensure they’ll be together), to ensure you’ll be able to sit together and not have to worry about it a month prior to your trip.
Have fun in Orlando!