The Even Unfriendlier Skies
I read recently that airlines want their customers to pay extra in order to ensure they are seated with their travel companions. Yes, that includes your spouse, significant other, and even your children. This can run passengers as much as $25 a piece, each way, to sit with the person they travel with. For my husband and I, that means an extra $100 if we want to fly to Florida and don’t want to be sandwiched next to strangers. $150 if we bring our son.
This is quite a trivial fee, as is having a fee to check a single bag that is not oversized or overweight. It is absurd to request that I pay additional funds to be seated next to my husband or child, especially when I’m the type of person to book well in advance, not purchase tickets when the flight is nearly booked and complain because I didn’t get the best seats. It’s absurd to request I pay extra to be able to seat my three person family together on a flight, especially since my son is only six and not yet able to sit alone and fend for himself without pestering strangers.
I honestly am not too surprised that this fee was brought up to charge to adults who travel together, but it boggles my mind that it applies to children as well. Flight attendants are not babysitters and shouldn’t be forced to care for a child because their parent couldn’t afford/wouldn’t pay the fee and the child is separated from the parent. Other passengers should not have to be stuck next to an unsupervised child and be forced to either play babysitter themselves or be annoyed for the duration of their flight because the child’s parent is ten rows back. Flying is stressful enough as it is without adding this nonsense on top of it. Take a look at the Flights From Hell site and see for yourself how many people have their flight ruined by children or by being separated from their party.
I definitely do see where a fee for seating arrangements would be appropriate. If you want to specifically request an aisle or window seat or a certain row, it’s reasonable to charge a fee for that privilege, so long as it is easily refunded if your request is not granted on the day of the flight. If you have an exceptionally large group, a fee would also be appropriate, as it seems to me that it would be slightly extra work for the airline if your group of twenty wish to all be seated in the same area. These things go above the reasonable accommodations that the airline should provide.
Airlines are obviously concerned with making a profit, but they aren’t realizing that their attempts are counterproductive. People don’t want to fly anymore if they don’t have to. Security has gotten worse and worse and prices continue to rise. Unnecessary fees are tacked on for things that should be included with the price of your ticket and customer service quality declines as the customer becomes more and more irritated with the poor treatment and inconvenient new policies. Airlines are hurting for money and they aren’t helping themselves by treating their customers poorly and viewing them as their personal piggy banks. Put fees in place for premium services and make money the right way from people who are willing to pay for a service that is truly an “extra” and not a given. Tell me I have to pay to sit with my six year old or my husband and you’ll find me quite happy to say to hell with the skies and become a true road trip enthusiast.