Family Flying Fail: Having To Pay Extra To Sit With Your Kids

By  | 

family holidayWe already know that flying with children can be challenging. What with the dirty looks and up-the-back poo explosions mid-flight. Or how about that JetBlue mishap from the other week when employees booted off an 18-month-old who somehow showed up on their no-fly list (yes, that actually happened)? Now family flying is about to get even more complicated because airlines are reserving a greater number of seats for passengers willing to pay to be near a window, aisle or the front of the plane. That means families are being forced to split up unless they’re willing to dish out the extra $25 or more each way to ensure they’re not stuck with a series of middle seats (the worst!).

Of course, some parents are rejoicing. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to tune out for hours, read a magazine, watch a movie, maybe even enjoy a glass of wine? Of course it would be. But when you have small children, that’s out of the question (unless your spouse gets stuck with the kids and you end up flying solo in another row altogether, which is what happened to me on our last family flight).

Most families, however, are less than pleased. It’s annoying to have to dish out extra dough just to ensure your 2-year-old isn’t stuck in a middle seat between two strangers. That said, what are these airlines thinking? It’s not as if they’d actually allow a 2-year-old to sit by himself on a plane, so in many ways they’re just creating a make-work project for themselves.

I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve witnessed stressed-out employees at the gate frantically trying to group families together moments before boarding. This new reservations policy will make things all the more complicated and, frankly, it’s a giant pain in the ass.

Of course, you could always suck it up and pay the extra fee, but most families aren’t willing to do so (family vacations are expensive enough as is). Another option is to book a new seat assignment for free starting five days before departure (according to Associated Press, this is when some elite fliers are upgraded to first class). Or try for 24 hours in advance when online check-in begins. As a last resort, you could always try what so many parents have already become experts in: begging fellow passengers to switch seats so that you can sit with your family. If there’s a young (read: crying) child involved, most will comply.

(Photo: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock)