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Pay for advance seat selection and don't blame the airline when no one wants to move to accommodate your needs.  Also most airlines, including AirCanada offer a free 24hr in advance of departure "seat selection".

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Parent separated from child on Air Canada flight ignites firestorm

By Caryn Lieberman Global News

 

A parent’s Facebook post about a stressful travel experience for her husband and young child is resonating with moms and dads across the city. The father and daughter were seated apart on an Air Canada flight Thursday. But as Caryn Lieberman found out, there is no regulation forcing airlines to seat kids and parents together.

 

TORONTO — A mother’s Facebook post about her husband and 3-year-old daughter seated several rows apart on an Air Canada flight this week is raising alarm bells among other Toronto families.

The woman wrote that when her husband “Checked in they seated her 8 rows behind him. Obviously he said ‘uh…NO!’ But they said he could try to change it at gate check. At gate check they would not budge. Just said ‘sorry! Nothing we can do. We can’t change anyone.'”

More than 200 parents have since commented on the post sharing their own stories of separation from children in flight.

One of those parents, Rachelle Manios, told Global News “We were literally all over the cabin and with my youngest being non-verbal and special needs, we were very concerned.”

However, Manios discovered the issue in advance of her scheduled flight, and spent three days making calls to Air Canada to resolve the problem. But it left a bad taste in her mouth, she says.

“I was crying, I literally burst into tears, I was trying to remain composed but I was so so upset,” says Manios.

The problem isn’t new.

A few years ago, a father in British Columbia filed a complaint against Air Canada, WestJet, Porter and a few other carriers, after he noted that he could only guarantee his family was seated together by booking in advance, and paying for it.

Marco Pozzobon of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents says no regulation has been passed since that case, but adds, “I know the Canadian Transportation Agency has urged the airlines to adopt a friendly seating policy.”

While there are no guarantees, industry experts say if you pay for advanced seating your odds of being seated together with your children do increase — or you can rely on the generosity of other passengers to switch seats.

With regards to the original Facebook post, Air Canada tells Global News the travel agent for the family did not indicate that one of the two travellers was a child and so the automatic seat selection for families did not pick up a problem.

But the airline says it has now amended the booking and that the father and daughter will be seated together on their return flight.

 

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This is related to other threads about wanting more than you paid for as a passenger.

The simple fact is that there are passengers who don't care where they sit.  They want the discount.  So there is a fare offered at the ' I don't care where I sit' rate.  But it sorta stands to reason that you should not book that rate if you actually DO care where you sit.

In this case, it is a bit disingenuous that the travel agent did nothing to inform the passenger or the airline of this potential issue, yet the agent is not the one with their name in the headlines.  Now why do you suppose that is?  The cynic in me says it's because using the airline's name gets more press, and perhaps get the passenger what they want - in this case the 'I DO care where I sit' product at the 'I DON'T care price.

I would really love to drive a car that seats 6 instead of a car that seats 5.  Maybe I can just buy the smaller car and call the press, complaining that the manufacturer didn't give me a car with room for my 6th family member. Forget the dealer.   I don't want to pay more, I just want the better car.  How would you rate my odds?

Vs

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 I do not think airlines should be allowed to seat children away from their parents. $50 each to sit together? Give me a break. I encourage people I know to give their kids a bag of pop corn and a package of sharpies to draw on the table tray etc. Also sweetheart remember every time you need me push this button and have the flight attendant let me know!  Have a nice flight !

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1 hour ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

 I do not think airlines should be allowed to seat children away from their parents. $50 each to sit together? Give me a break. I encourage people I know to give their kids a bag of pop corn and a package of sharpies to draw on the table tray etc. Also sweetheart remember every time you need me push this button and have the flight attendant let me know!  Have a nice flight !

TF you get what you pay for, no extra's just because you have progeny. Buy cheap, get cheap.  Pay for the seats and you get the seats.... Or take your chances and check in online 24hrs out and then hunt for seats that suit your needs but not your wallet.  If you get your way, what is to prevent others from insisting on the same "free" treatment,...... Next Headline will read: "Facebook  report by loving husband who could not sit beside his beloved spouse and provide emotional support during the trip. Dozens offer support.  Airline completely at blame."   :D:biggrin2:  Isn't wonderfull what the race for "Cheap" has given us? 

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I know that for an extra fee you can get advanced seat selection, but I'm pretty sure everyone else can still check in online 24 hours in advance.  Why would anyone traveling with a 3 year old wait till they get to the airport to check in?  Of course there won't be much selection of seats left, and if you demand to be given seats together at that point, you're asking the company to displace passengers that checked in ahead of you.  The last line of defense is always to ask the kind strangers around you to move so your family can sit together, and they usually do, but you can't expect staff to just arbitrarily move people around just because you waited till the last minute to check in.  Even before online check in, the agents wouldn't just displace other passengers on a full flight, they would let the crew deal with it during boarding.

Back in the day, we used to carry diapers, jars of baby food, kids toys, colouring books, crayons....  Now we have cheap fares instead, and that means you have to fend for yourself.  It's been the new reality for quite some time now.

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Unbelievable how we take things for granted nowadays...

Just to play devil's advocate here; has it not occurred to some of you that, although maybe not the case here, some people still don't own computers or smartphones to do online check-in?

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Gumbi, you can't expect good tickets to a concert by logging into ticketmaster weeks after they want on sale and you can't expect to get a reservation for Valentines Day dinner by calling on Feb 13. As a consumer you can adapt and embrace or ignore and fall behind.

Edited by CanadaEH
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I just re-read the story. I'm slow. I thought the complaint was that mom was separated from husband and toddler. Now I understand dad was in one row 8 rows away from 3 year old travelling essentially alone beside or between two strangers??

No way!!! I have trouble believing anyone would permit that....starting with the father but including agents, cabin crew and nearby passengers.

Seriously....you take your assigned seat and beside you is an unaccompanied 3 year old....and you would simply shrug your shoulders and say"Oh, well."

Okay...maybe one or even two idiots but at least 17 people in immediate proximity????

Nah!

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23 minutes ago, UpperDeck said:

I just re-read the story. I'm slow. I thought the complaint was that mom was separated from husband and toddler. Now I understand dad was in one row 8 rows away from 3 year old travelling essentially alone beside or between two strangers??

No way!!! I have trouble believing anyone would permit that....starting with the father but including agents, cabin crew and nearby passengers.

Seriously....you take your assigned seat and beside you is an unaccompanied 3 year old....and you would simply shrug your shoulders and say"Oh, well."

Okay...maybe one or even two idiots but at least 17 people in immediate proximity????

Nah!

What you are avoiding is the cause. The parents evidently didn't want / need or understand that they were responsible for requesting / paying for the desired seating.  Why should any of the other passengers, some of whom paid for their seating be moved ?  The choice might have been leaving a window / aisle for a center seat formerly occupied by the child, what I don't know of course is if either parent was in a good seat and willing to move to be close to the infant, in other words would it have been a "fair" swap, that would not have separated other folks who wished to travel together.  If as I SUSPECT, no one was willing to move then the only fair choice would be to deplane the party of 3.

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4 hours ago, Malcolm said:

 loving husband who could not sit beside his beloved spouse

I was a victim to this.

I was cajoled into switching seats with one half of a newlywed couple.  On the take off roll the bride reclined her seat and fell asleep until landing.  But, she was in tears in the departure lounge because she was not sitting next to the groom..

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3 hours ago, cp fa said:

I know that for an extra fee you can get advanced seat selection, but I'm pretty sure everyone else can still check in online 24 hours in advance.  Why would anyone traveling with a 3 year old wait till they get to the airport to check in?

Because most people just don't think about this stuff.

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I've said it before - people should have to read and sign a waiver acknowledging their acceptance of the terms - "no food", "random leftover middle seats for your party of three", "one carry-on that fits the sizer", etc - sign here, please. The airline's reply to spurious social media campaigns would be to show the waiver - done!

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Seeker--and if they had the waiver then the average consumer would know that they might not be seated together. It should be simple from the airline side--ensure all under 18's are seated next to parents. If there are no seats in that class' then don't sell them unless the parents waive the seat.

The average consumer will have no clue about how seating works. If the airlines can't be clear about it then the legislatures will make them clear about.

In fact, I think it would be to AC's and WestJets advantage to have more legislation. What they used to do as a matter of daily operations has been whittled down by new entrants who cut costs and provide crappy service. A set of basic rules of operations would either weed out these companies or force them to supply a certain level of service.

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34 minutes ago, Trader said:

If the airlines can't be clear about it....

 

They are clear about it - if you want to guarantee specific seats, seats together, you must pay for them and if you don't care about where you sit you can save a few bucks.  The problem is that sometimes people can get both and now they have come to expect it.  Families will buy the cheapest seats possible knowing full well that they are taking a chance of not getting seats together and hope that they can get the gate agent to change them.  When that doesn't happen they claim that they didn't know, that the airline is being mean and uncaring.  If it does work they are happy because they cheated the system or pulled one over on the airline.

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14 minutes ago, DEFCON said:

The rules are a little different than some of the in-house opinions.

 

http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/youngtravellers/minors.html

You've linked to the page regarding "unaccompanied minors"  This really has nothing to do with this situation.  In any case, the clause you are probably referring to only says that children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult in the same cabin so 10 rows (or whatever) away meets the rules anyway.

  • Children under age 8 must be accompanied by an adult age 16 or older when travelling.
  • The accompanying adult must occupy a seat in the same cabin as the young child.

 

Edited by seeker
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16 hours ago, Malcolm said:

Pay for advance seat selection and don't blame the airline when no one wants to move to accommodate your needs.  Also most airlines, including AirCanada offer a free 24hr in advance of departure "seat selection".

Early check in doesn't always work. I have checked in from home 23 hours and 58 minutes in advance of flight time as I knew that the flight was going to be full so we wanted to get seats together.

The only open seats were middle seats. 

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25 minutes ago, John S. said:

Early check in doesn't always work. I have checked in from home 23 hours and 58 minutes in advance of flight time as I knew that the flight was going to be full so we wanted to get seats together.

The only open seats were middle seats. 

Then of course the option would have been to pay in advance for better seats...

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I have to disagree with the majority of people here. It should be absolutely mandatory that parents and children who are too young to travel by themselves without UM status (so age 12 in ACs case) be seated together. Who is going to assist this 3 year old in evacuating in the event of an emergency, or ensure his oxygen mask is on in a depressurisation? Or even who will help him eat his food (if he gets any) or turn on the tv for him? Take him to the bathroom? Ensure he's not seated next to a sexual predator? It should be a requirement to seat children with their parents and parents should not have to pay extra for this. It's basic duty of care! If you don't pay for seat selection you don't get to choose where in the cabin you are seated, but at least one parent must still be seated next to a minor!

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