Airline Sat Toddler 11 Rows Away From Dad & Charged Them Extra to Change Seats

Traveling with children is stressful enough. Now imagine the shock you'd feel if you showed up at the airport with your kids, all of your bags, all of their bags, and then discovered your young child—your preschooler—had been assigned a seat several rows back from you. One dad who says he was forced to pay $88 to sit with his 4-year-old is speaking out against airlines that he says hold parents hostage for money.


In this one dad's experience, he says he booked his tickets online with Delta and made it clear on the website that his daughter was just 4. He paid $1200 in total, plus an additional $25 for extra baggage. Now, it isn't clear whether the dad received his seat assignment ahead of time and didn't read the fine print. All we know is that the plane was filled with empty seats, according to the dad, and that Delta still, for whatever reason, assigned his little girl a seat 11 rows away from him.

We understand that people make mistakes and that computers can make even bigger mistakes, especially when it pertains to issues that concern the emotional well-being of a child (or parent!). But here's what's really odd: when the dad asked for help from a ticket agent, he says she suggested he speak with a gate agent, who would probably change the seat at no cost. I'm not sure why the first agent didn't offer more help, but who knows, everyone is extremely busy and if dealing with seat changes are a gate agent's job, so be it.

Dad opted to pay $88 up front to change the seat because he says he was afraid to take a chance waiting for the gate agent to help out. I can imagine myself, in the same position, doing the exact same thing, rather than allow the possibility that my young child be left to fend for herself rows away from me, when she can barely go to the bathroom alone.

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There are a few ways to look at this. Dad could have done what my oh-so-not-a-shrinking-violet mom did when I was 2 and an airline had wisely assigned me a seat rows away from her—hold up the whole damn plane and refuse to sit in her chair until either an empathetic passenger switched seats with her or a flight attendant caved in and helped (a passenger came to the rescue, I hear). But that was the early '80s and this is now, and Dad would probably be arrested on the spot if he dared attempt that same act of rebellion.

It's an airline's responsibility to ensure something like this doesn't happen and that, when it does, it is correct asap. Unless they want to pay their flight attendants extra money to serve as nannies for children who are placed rows away from their parents, it's in their best interest to keep kids and parents together.

I can think of a million potential lawsuits that disgruntled parents could file. Let me start with three. My child ate something he/she was allergic to and I wasn't next to him to stop it from happening. My child's safety belt wasn't tight enough and he became injured during turbulence. My child had to go to the potty and a flight attendant didn't take him in time and he defecated himself, which has caused him to suffer severe emotional distress.

I'm also pretty sure passengers seated around the child, as nice as they may be, won't be thrilled to find they'll be serving as guardians for the next few hours.

I'm not sure I would go as far as calling what airlines allow to happen a "hostage" situation, but it is certainly one that has an easy fix and should be fixed—by the airline.

What do you think about what happened to this dad? Whose responsibility is it to fix this?


Image via Marco Giumelli/Flickr




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