US Airways Has a Problem, but We Got a Solution

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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 Seat Assignments

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.

US Airways Seat Assignments

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!

Radisson Aruba

Radisson Aruba

 

Comments

  1. I regularly have problems with USAir seats. Half the time you pick them online and they don’t ‘stick’ – you log back in and they’re gone. I then have to phone the res number to sort out. It’s just horrid.
    Plus if you have AA and US segments you have to try and get seats separately through each web site.

  2. I always thought US Air’s phone reps were more than helpful, especially when it came to changes initiated by US Air. However, it seems lately that the American Airlines “F-U, pay me” culture is taking over. I’m afraid that we’re getting the worst of both worlds with this merger.

  3. I witnesses/participated in a similarly poor experience on US Airway although in a somewhat different context. Due to a two-minute flight schedule change, US Airways crummy IT systems allowed me to change my flight home. When I changed flights, my new seat was in a bulkhead row with extra legroom. When I got to the gate, myself and the two other people in my row were asked to move to a normal row so a disabled person and her family could sit in the bulkhead rows. I was fine with this since I had not paid for my bulkhead seat and I was already happy to have been allowed a free same day change. However, the two other people in my row had paid for that extra leg room and were willing to give it up but (reasonably) wanted to get the extra money they had paid back. Of course, the US Airways agent said that was not possible and then made a scene when the customers were unhappy about giving up a seat they had paid extra for.

  4. It seems the much easier solution would of been to take the 3 seats in row 14.I find it hard to believe that the person in 14C wouldn’t switch to 14D. Problem solved. I do think the airlines should make it easier when they change the schedule to keep people together.

    • Will, we did take the seats in row 14. If you mean row 17, 17D didn’t show as available until this morning. Yesterday when I called it showed full.

    • Having worked on airline IT systems, typically the software is coded to try and keep people together. However, it has a superseding rule to not take choice seats unless everything is full, and there are usually 1-3 “half rows” that are blocked (so that people can be accommodated later). The tech actually is pretty decent for most people on the flight, particularly those elite or in higher fare classes who are usually re-accomodated first.

      The business needs to follow and empower agents to make common-sense decisions to fix irops.

      • Noah, I totally agree and thanks for your insight. The agents need to be empowered with a rubber stamp to fix issues that the IT couldn’t/didn’t on the first request, and without it being a PITA for them or the customers. Lord help everyone involved when the full integration really happens on the merger if issues like this are in any way indicative of how issues have to be resolved.

    • Will, oh, gotcha. Yeah, that would have been a viable option if that seat showed available when I was still dealing with the issue. 😉

  5. Kudos to you for getting it fixed. I would have just paid the $44 fee since US Airways already gave your husband and daughter a free Choice seat.

    • Joey, thought about that, but Choice seats don’t really mean extra legroom, so I could care less if we were in a “specially designated” row or not. If the row actually had better legroom then that would have potentially been a better deal.

      • Seriously? Wow! Ok nevermind I wouldn’t pay $44 unless it had more legroom! Wow! BTW, I’ve never flown US before so pardon my ignorance on that part. Kudos for getting all of you in the same row for $0!

  6. Recent trip in envoy to Europe, they managed to split family of 4 (kids 2&4) across 3 rows and claimed they could not fix. Chaos on board as others, including couples and person with elderly parent also split up. Pax resolved themselves with no help from us airways. Very poor display.

  7. If they wanted $44 for the “choice” seat, you should have ask for an $88 credit for giving up your 2 “choice” seats at the end 🙂

      • SW on points with CP was how we did Aruba exactly 1 month ago.
        I hope you report on the Radisson stay, if that’s where you’re staying.
        Aruba cabs are fairly inexpensive, with set prices form area to area of the island. The Arubus is also a very cheap ride to and from Orangestad if you want to hit the main city of Aruba.
        The water was very comfortable for ocean swimming with nice waves to play in.
        All you can eat ribs on Tuesdays at Smokie Joes in the high rise area. There is a nice Wisconsinite’s brat stand, on the beach in high rise area called Scott’s brats.
        Have fun!

  8. Glad you got it resolved. US Air policies are really false economy for them, when you think of the time it took their agents to get it resolved. They should neither be wasting your time nor tying up their agents with multiple calls from passengers needing a simple fix.

  9. Sooo… Your situation was resolved (yay) by possibly booting someone else out of their seats (boo)? Doesn’t sound like too many winners in this situation.

    • Marie, I’m assuming that seat was blocked, but not occupied. No way to know for sure though. If it was occupied all the more reason to just put me in the empty seat next to my family in the first place.

  10. I’m glad the supervisory personnel had the authority/ability to fix this. Otherwise, there would have been a REAL problem in the way that airline is run! Of course, most pax aren’t sophisticated enough to know to escalate.

  11. U.S. Airways has a culture problem and it’s a good thing they will cease to exist in 2015. I just hope those agents end up at the unemployment line or working for the government (which they are obviously fully qualified for) instead of staying in the industry.

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