Family Split Up For Convenience Of Another

November 16, 2009

in Baby & Kid Stories

I was flying from Hartford, CT to Orlando, FL with my one year old and two year old daughters. Even though my youngest qualified for a free seat, I had purchased three first row seats together, so we would be close to the restroom, and I would have the extra room. Imagine my surprise when boarding to find a couple and their son in my seats. I stopped in surprise, and the flight attendant told me that they had bought tickets last minute and couldn’t get seats together, so they had moved them to be together. I tried explaining that I had bought these tickets months ago and was traveling with two toddlers, to no avail.

I was seated in Row 2, my one year old was in Row 17, and my two year old was in row 24. They would not let me have my baby on my lap because I had bought a seat! I was told I had to wait until after take-off. Upon seating, my one year old began to cry. She was terrified and wanted to be with me. The flight attendant told me I had to keep her quiet or she would evict us from the plane.

We sat on the runway over an hour before take-off. The light was on the entire flight and the attendant would not allow me to get up to see my children or to bring them their baby food or bottles.

I should have filed a complaint. Instead I never flew that airline again!

Robyn in CT

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

debbie November 16, 2009 at 7:25 pm

I don't believe this story.


Maureen November 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I agree with Debbie, I can't imagine an infant being left in a seat 15 rows away and the toddler 20 rows away….without any adult supervision.


Bonnie November 17, 2009 at 1:22 am

Believe it. They did the same thing to my family several years ago. Tickets purchased months in advance. Me & my husband travelling with a 3 year old & a 1 year old. They put all 4 of us all over the plane anyway & were unbelievably nasty when we kept trying to insist that we be given our assigned seats together… If we'd had a choice, believe me we'd have walked away. But we had only 2 days to find a new home on the opposite coast – missing this flight was NOT an option!


Thom February 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

Spirit Airlines?


david November 17, 2009 at 4:18 am

i believe it, this can happen very easily

however, why didn't you show your boarding pass to the FA, gate agent, and the family? showing them that those were your seats and you shouldn't be split up due to the fact that you did everything right and had the seats assigned, and that the other family came last min and their seats were in diff locations and that is their problem to fix and not yours?

you should have made them move as you had the assigned seats and you were the ones prepared


Jodi November 17, 2009 at 5:51 am

Wow. If this really happened, I do not understand why you let them do that to you. You planned this ahead of time, you had your tickets and boarding pass showing your assigned seats. You should have insisted that they other family be moved and separated not you and your small children. I simply would have kept insisting that I get my assigned seats or asking for a supervisor and insisting that the supervisor give you your assigned seats and pointing out that you have 2 children under the age of 5 that cannot be alone without adult supervision.


DSD November 17, 2009 at 9:39 am

I'm not buying it. You wouldn't have gotten on the plane without them having given you new tickets with new seat assignments. Then for a FA to tell you to keep your 1 year old under control when you are 15 rowes away makes no sence especially when you can't get up from your seat, and that you can't keep the child on your lap because you bought a ticket for them. I'm just not buying the whole thing.


david November 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm

DSD they had their tickets, the other peoples tickets were scattered around as they were in the wrong seats but wanted to be together


DSD November 18, 2009 at 5:08 am

Then get the F up!! The attendant is going to look like a twit to corprate when they toss some people for not sitting, in not their seats. What are they going to do say you weren't listening to the attendant? Well the passanger had printed proof that they were RIGHT. On most airlines you pay extra for the seats that Robyn had. I defniately wouldn't be giving them up just to accomodate another family that was essentially trying to steal my seat.

I have been in the scattered family's position and the only thing you can do is ask if its alright to switch. I did have a couple aces in the hole, in that the guy in row 23 was getting row 7 and wouldn't be sitting next to my wife holding our 4 month old son in her lap. But I couldn't make the guy switch. You don't move people back you give them tickets farther forward. If the family wanted to sit together then they needed to go to row 24 and ask the two non family members if they were willing to accept two seats farther forward so that they could sit together.


Jodi November 18, 2009 at 5:39 am

I agree. I really don't think this happened.


meme November 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

What airline cause this sounds like bs to me?


Demotage November 18, 2009 at 10:02 am

If it was on United, then I believe it. I had a similar experience with them (except my kids were 8 and 5 at the time)


dooha November 19, 2009 at 10:44 am

I totally believe this–I saw the very same thing happen to a family on a UA flight DFW-DEN around Jan 2003. Except on that flight, the FA ended up booting the passengers. But it gets way better than that–we'd already pushed back, so we all got to enjoy the delay while they dealt with getting the skyway back, opening the doors, etc. And then they added insult to injury… the flight was full, so we got to wait around while they got standby passengers back to the gate and loaded aboard, along with their luggage. The FA got so riled up that she wouldn't even hear it when other passengers offered to trade seats so this mother could sit with her two children. It was the most unprofessional behavior I've ever experienced, and I've never flown UA since.


Matt November 19, 2009 at 11:26 pm

I'd ask the flight attendant to ask a row of adults to spread out amoungst the plane so you could have the row. If I would have seen this happen I would have convinced my row to get up and move… That flight attendant did not go the extra for you…..


Marie November 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

If this really happened, I would have absolutely refused to sit in those seats. I have a one year old myself, and there is absolutely no way she could sit by herself in a seat. You can't even buckle the seatbelt around them at that age – I can't see my daughter even sitting in a seat long enough to get the seatbelt around her, because she would have been up and running towards me the second the flight attendant left.

And if they tried to kick me off this flight, I'd have a lawsuit filed faster than they can blink.

I'm a former flight attendant, so I'm highly sympathetic to how difficult it can be sometimes, but this is totally and completely unacceptable, to the point where I find it really difficult to even believe that it's true.


Marie November 21, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Another thing that doesn't make sense about this story – Delta is the only airline that flies this route direct. Coach class starts at row 10 on these planes, not row 1.


TW December 28, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I also find this hard to believe. If the flight attendant didn't go to bat for you, the people sitting next to your unescorted child surely would have, for their own, if not for your family's, sake.


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