Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
A couple of days ago I shared a post titled “Why Families Think Airlines Suck” that seems to have resonated with many of you since it sadly doesn’t seem to be a rare occurance. In this case the post was sparked by a recent experience I had with US Airways that is far from unique to my family. You can read the full story here, but in summary my family of three had tickets to Aruba and back on US Airways, and the reservation had a schedule change and aircraft substitution.
This schedule change and equipment swap led to our three assigned seats together getting messed up on the four hour segment from Aruba to Charlotte. Instead of the three seats together we had at booking, my seat was split to several rows away from my husband and daughter. The seat next to the two of them was still available, so I hoped a quick call to US Airways would rectify the situation, but it didn’t happen that way.
US Airways Refused to Fix Seat Assignments Without Additional Fee:
Since the equipment swap somehow landed my husband and daughter in a “Choice” row (extra cost for seats toward the front of the plane that don’t have any extra legroom), the agent would not move me to the open seat next to them without paying $44 even though we originally had seats together. No, this wasn’t an “end of the world” situation and my daughter doesn’t have to have both parents next to her to fly, but it is a pretty unnecessary stance taken by the airline to split a family and not fix the problem without charging an extra fee.
I really didn’t want to get unnecessarily aggravated over the situation and have a cloud over the trip for something so small, so I was ready to just pay the $44 after striking out on the first call and by tweeting US Airways on Twitter, or even just not worry about it and sit next to whoever ended up in that seat instead of together as a family. However, after encouragement from the comments section (thanks guys!), I tried again. For the record, “hang-up and call back” is generally the best advice out there when you don’t get the answer you want from an airline, though I totally recognize that busy parents don’t always have the time and energy to make repeated calls to an airline.
“Hang up, Call Back, and Don’t Take No for an Answer”:
Yesterday I called the regular reservations line again and started fresh explaining the situation, and asked for assistance in getting our seats fixed back to being in the same row. The agent was just as nice as the first one (who couldn’t help me), and I was put on hold while she worked on the issue for several minutes. I naively thought that since the hold was more than a few seconds that when she came back on the line the problem would have been resolved. Instead, she came back and explained the same info that I had already heard and said that the only way to get back in that row with them was to pay the $44 since it was a “Choice Row”.
This time I was a little more ready to play ball than the day before, and I politely explained that wouldn’t work. I politely explained again that we had seats assigned together originally, and that it was the aircraft swap by US Airways that messed the seats up. I said that since there were still three seats available together I really needed the issue to be resolved without me having to pay additional money to fix a problem I didn’t cause.
I was then put on hold again and told the agent needed to talk to the “support desk”. This time after a few minutes on hold she came back with the news that we had all been put in a new (non-Choice) row together. That row did not show available online yesterday, but I’m thankful they were able to resolve the issue on their end without me having to whip out my credit card or just accept that it is okay for an airline to split up a family and not fix the issue when requested.
I’m totally fine and squared away for our upcoming beach trip, but I think US Airways still has a problem. I don’t think it should require two calls, two no’s, and the customer not accepting the second no in order to finally get a simple seat assignment issue like this resolved. If your family is faced with a similar situation, then for now be ready to not accept no for an answer if you call. Be polite, but expect to have to push for a second level approval to get an override on this kind of issue.
US Airways Still Has a Problem Even Though Mine is Fixed:
All airlines have schedule changes and equipment swaps, but it would not surprise me if US and American Airlines have more than their fair share in 2015 and into 2016 as the merger progresses. Fixing seat assignments on one reservation that have been messed up by those changes should be an easy fix that gets blanket rubber stamp approval if seats together are still available, even if those seats would normally cost extra due to a “Choice” designation. It is clear US Airways does not currently have that policy in place, but let’s hope that at some point they decide that is in everyone’s best interest.
Now we can get back to the fun stuff….actually planning our trip to the beach! Woohoo!