American Airlines: Shame on you!

Over the past decade consolidation in the airline industry has had an adverse effect upon flyers -higher ticket costs and extra charges here and there that can add up in a big way (especially for families on a budget!).

The lack of competition has seemingly given airlines carte blanche when it comes to price gauging the consumer with added charges (bag fees, select seating, drinks/snacks, etc.) and reduction of services.

This summer our family traveled on American Airlines to Italy. When we placed our reservations we had hoped to get 4 seats together (or at least 2 and 2) as we were traveling with two young children ages 5 & 9.

When we attempted to make our seat arrangements we were told by an American Airlines representative that we could only have seats together if we paid an additional $68 per ticket each way for the s"select" seats which meant that this would push our already expensive ticket price of $1,300 per ticket to $1,556 per ticket! For a family of four that is $544 extra!

We told the American Airlines representative that we were traveling with two young children one of which needed special attention and who we knew would become super anxious sitting alone and undoubtedly annoy the passengers he sat next to.

We also expressed our concerns to the representative. What would happen to our children should the plane encounter an emergency. What passengers/strangers would feel responsible for two young children not their own? Who would put the oxygen mask on our kids? Who would make sure our kids are buckled in properly? Would someone else make sure their food is opened and cut properly? What if the adult sitting next to my child is a molester or pedophile? (You can bet a suit would follow quicker than quick!)

The American Airlines representative told us that we could either ask at the check in desk for seat availability (couldn't do this at JFK as it is fully computer automated now!) or ask at the gate (no such luck!).

We decided not to pay the additional $544 and take our chances and hope that the passengers sitting next to our children would find the idea of 7+ hours on a flight next to young kids unappealing enough to swap seats with us.

Fortunately for us, the two seats next to each child were empty! We lucked out but are sure that there are many hundreds if not thousands of families that have not been so lucky.

Airlines must change this rule. Families should not be separated from their young children or expected to pay a handsome fee in order to do so. Airlines have a legal responsibility to look after children flying on their own. We believe that airlines should also have a legal responsibility to sit young children with at least 1 family adult member. Governments should mandate this!

The airline industry can do better and it is up to us, the consumer, to demand higher standards.

Real Time Web Analytics