After writing about the family who was split up in middle seats throughout the plane on our United flight to Chicago, I wasn’t expecting the response we got from our readers. We received a number of comments from readers with differing viewpoints. One one hand, we received two comments that I’m sure United would be just thrilled to read:
- I won’t be flying with United. My kids won’t handle being separated from me.
- Yup. Not flying United.
We also learned it’s not solely a problem on United:
- I think it’s a bit unfair to target United soley – all the major airlines now sell Basic Economy (and United wasn’t even the first to do so) and the terms of the ticket are clearly stated on the website….I’ve been flying United for a while now and never had a problem. This could have happened on any airline.
- Delta just did this to us. I tried to call ahead and was told the only way to resolve the problem was at the gate. Luckily, it was. Just a lot of unnecessary stress.
I decided to dig a little deeper into this story. I put myself into the place of someone who is planning a family vacation and wants to make sure I can sit with my two children. I turned to the only place where I knew I could be sure to get the truth – Twitter.
I sent tweets to all the major airlines, most of the smaller ones and even some international ones (all from my personal account) and waited for their replies. To be fair, I sent the same Direct Message to each airline:
I am currently planning a trip for my family. We will be traveling with two children and I want to make sure that we all get to sit together. How can I ensure our seats are all together.
Some airlines I had to send a public Tweet and here is what I sent:
I am currently planning a trip & We will be traveling with 2 children. How can I ensure our seats are all together.
I try to put these in some order. First will be the big three domestic carriers, all of whom sell Basic Economy tickets with seating restrictions.
American’s response was to have me call their customer service:
Delta’s message seemed to say that I could tweet back for them to check for seat assignments on the flight:
For all the grief United took in my original post, their Twitter response was the most accurate of any I received: Color me impressed, United. Well done.
Now on to the lower cost carriers. Southwest does not offer seat assignments on any of their flights but did give me a clear idea of what to expect:
JetBlue’s response was straightforward and pleasant, just like their airline:
Alaska Airlines response was polite and helpful:
I’m not sure how much the response from Virgin America would help. I guess people traveling with them are too hip to worry about traveling with kids:
Hawaiian Airlines didn’t have a way to contact on Twitter but did have text messaging, so I gave that a try. I got a response within a minute.
Much to my surprise, I received a helpful reply back from Spirit Airlines:
The same could be said for Allegiant. However, it did take them two days to respond, which is an eternity in Twitter years. Not saying anything but I’m happy we booked with Delta for our upcoming trip.
However, I found the person who replied to their response just as helpful (and truthful):
I was curious to see how other international airlines would respond so I sent the message to the few that I already followed on Twitter.
Qantas and Jetstar, both Australian airlines, seemed to have a similar response, but that’s not surprising because they are owned by the same company:
I’ll cut AirBerlin some slack because of the language barrier. If you have to travel with two babies, only one can be on your lap:
British Airways response was pleasant and I expected no less from them:
Not surprising, the one airline that never responded was RyanAir. However, one of their parody accounts did notice my tweet and sent a reply that, for a second, I almost thought was real:
So what did I learn from this? First of all, it isn’t easy to find an answer about how to fly with your kids. I’d say your best bet is with an airline that doesn’t charge for seat assignments, like Southwest, JetBlue or Alaska. Other than that, expect to pay more money for the privilege of sitting next to the rest of your family on a flight.
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