Jump to content


Photo

Infants booted out of first class, and "better seats"


  • Please log in to reply
40 replies to this topic

#1 Rail Paul

Rail Paul

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 18,903 posts

Posted 20 November 2011 - 08:28 PM

The WSJ has an article about the increased restrictions on babies and small children traveling on commercial flights. The combination of new fee opportunities, complaints from other passengers, and boarding protocols has created problems for many parents traveling with small children. The article is one of the most e-mailed articles in the current edition, and has about 400 comments. The comments are divided between the traveling horror stories (seated next to a screaming kid for 8 hours, or forced to pay $400 in extra fees for strollers, diaper bags, etc) and the inequity of the process.

On some airlines, infants and smaller children are banned from first class and business class. On most airlines, the desirable bulkhead seats are often sold for premium fees. On most airlines, the increasingly large strollers must be checked and charged as additional checked bags. Fees for obtaining a specific seat assignment may be $120 for a family of four.

The airlines are unapologetic, noting there's no requirement to provide exceptions for additional bags, strollers, etc. Some airlines have cracked down on lap babies, Southwest requires a birth certificate to prove the child is under two years old. In some cases, certain seats do not have the additional oxygen mask required if a lap baby is seated in that group. This is especially true of regional jets. This will force a seat reassignment, possibly breaking up a family group.

The feds have considered requiring every traveler to be in a seat of their own. The airlines have resisted offering free seats, and parents have resisted paying for discounted or full fare seats. The NTSB has expressed concern that, if forced to pay, many parents would elect to drive longer distances, exposing children to the greater highway accident risk. Stalemate!

Even during peak holiday travel periods, adults, of course, outnumber children on planes, and airlines have to balance the needs of parents with other passengers whose nightmare is a long, crowded flight next to a noisy child.

Several factors are at play. First, many seats on flights are reserved for elite-level frequent fliers or full-fare business travelers. Routinely full flights have less seat-assignment flexibility. Also, airlines are increasingly selling choice seat assignments for extra fees, an expensive option for families. And bulkhead rows at the front of coach cabins that used to be ideal for traveling with infants, offering more privacy for diaper changes and more space for restless toddlers, now have to be reserved for passengers with disabilities. As a result, families often end up separated or at the back of the plane.

In Mr. Lyon's case, United says its systems are set up to keep groups together, but his seat assignments may have been altered because of a change in aircraft for his trip. After he complained, including sending United the names of passengers who witnessed the confrontation, the airline said it conducted an investigation and apologized to him.


Jogging strollers, in particular, have drawn fire from the airlines. Many don't collapse, making it difficult to gate check them, so they are checked, and charged. Changes in aircraft type or particular plane within a same type also wreak havoc with seating as rows may not line up or keep a group together on the new plane. Some airlines don't have assigned seating, so a family group may board a plane with through passengers already on board, and board after elite or A group passengers, so there may not be sufficient seats together.


Over 400 comments

STROLLERS

Airlines now have restrictions on the size of strollers, which have been getting bigger and fancier. American won't gate-check jogging strollers. United will only gate-check collapsible strollers.

BAGGAGE / CARRY-ONS

Diaper bags don't count toward carry-on baggage allowance on Continental and American flights. Not so on many other carriers.
If you have a car seat and a stroller, Continental will only check one free.
Lap children usually get no baggage allowance—any bags count against allotments for parents. One mother traveling with one lap child and two checked bags pays fees on both bags, totaling $120 round-trip. A third bag would add $250 round-trip on Delta.

FARES

Most airlines charge lap-child fares for international flights, typically 10% of the fare the adult pays for the seat, plus taxes and fees.
Southwest Airlines requires a copy of a birth certificate before giving a lap child permission to board free.
If an infant turns 2 while traveling, United requires the purchase of a ticket for the return flight home.


“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#2 foodie52

foodie52

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 6,340 posts

Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:10 PM

It's a dilemma. Having been on both sides (as a parent who traveled a lot overseas with babies, and now as an adult traveler without kids), I sympathize with both. But look: if airlines can isolate business and first, why can't they isolate families with young children? Create another section, insert soundproofed folding doors that can be detached. It's doesn't seem like it would be that hard to do.

My worst trip so far was fairly recently on a Squeezy Jet. It was last summer, we were stuck on the runway for 45 minutes, the AC was barely functioning,the plane was filled with families returning from Zurich to London, and a poor 18 month old screamed continuously until we took off. I felt like screaming too. It was bloody hot and cramped in that tube.
[size="4"]Visit our website for updates...Friends of Colombian Orphans

Donations are always gratefully accepted.

#3 fentona

fentona

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,144 posts

Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:30 PM

Of course there are 400 comments on that article. What's more fun to get on a high horse about than other people's kids? Other people treating your kids badly, I suppose.

I agree with foodie52 that other people's kids are a dilemma, there's probably no way to make everybody happy, and there's plenty of annoying behavior to go around. Airlines are using children as another excuse to gouge passengers, and passengers do idiotic things like try to bring giant strollers on a plane.

But I don't see why it's so hard for so many people to see that the bottom line is that everybody needs to just chill the fuck out. If you're a parent, do your best to keep your kids occupied and quiet. People will usually help you out (by, e.g., switching seats) if you ask politely. If you're not a parent, try to be understanding when there are noisy kids about. I've been on both sides, I've tried to follow those rules, and I've basically always been fine.
Andrew Fenton

#4 fentona

fentona

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,144 posts

Posted 20 November 2011 - 09:54 PM

Of course there are 400 comments on that article. What's more fun to get on a high horse about than other people's kids? Other people treating your kids badly, I suppose.


(Actually, some day I would like to see an article titled "Ron Paul Says Organic Food Is Making Your Kids Elitist." It'd have the best comment thread EVAR!)
Andrew Fenton

#5 splinky

splinky

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 19,571 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 12:37 AM

i had made about 25 or 30 transcontinental flights by the time i was 6, no one ever complained about us making noise. my mom's "travel secret" dimetapp in copious amounts. and later when we did more transatlantic travel we always had card games and coloring books. we were not allowed to entertain ourselves by kicking seatbacks or pulling the hair of the woman in front of us and were never got to play tag or do gymnastics in the aisle. parents today seem not to know how to discipline or engage their children. the very least they could do is sedate them. anyone who thinks a jogging stroller or a maclaren convertible buggy is carry-on luggage is a moron or worse.

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#6 yvonne johnson

yvonne johnson

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 8,076 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 03:02 AM

If you hold an infant's nostrils shut for a few breaths, it'll will unclog their ears. Always helpful to know.
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#7 Evelyn

Evelyn

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,427 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 03:40 AM

If you hold an infant's nostrils shut for a few breaths, it'll will unclog their ears. Always helpful to know.


Holding a pillow over their faces would work too, yes :ph43r: ?

As someone who travels close to 200K on airplanes each year, I'd love nothng better than having families with small children placed in their own section (preferably in the back of the plane). It seems most parents can't be bothere to make sure the kids behave.

#8 splinky

splinky

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 19,571 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 03:46 AM


If you hold an infant's nostrils shut for a few breaths, it'll will unclog their ears. Always helpful to know.


Holding a pillow over their faces would work too, yes :ph43r: ?

As someone who travels close to 200K on airplanes each year, I'd love nothng better than having families with small children placed in their own section (preferably in the back of the plane). It seems most parents can't be bothere to make sure the kids behave.

i say, strap them onto the wing

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#9 mongo_jones

mongo_jones

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 21,541 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 05:16 AM

it's not so easy to make kids behave. especially in enclosed spaces where their and their parents' mobility is limited. it's a bit like expecting adults to behave on online forums--the nature of the space makes for problems.

i believed this before i had children and i really believe it now: the people for whom a child's meltdown on a plane is the toughest are the parents. others have the option to turn up the volume on their headphones, drink themselves silly or take an ambien. the parents don't.

my annoying opinions: untimely whisky reviews and occasional cultural commentary

 


facts are meaningless. you could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
~homer simpson




#10 SLBunge

SLBunge

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,047 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 04:58 PM

I agree with the restrictions on the massive strollers and some of the luggage restrictions.

I agree with Dr. Jones. I realize it's easy to be dramatic and claim that all small children on airplanes are a terror and should be housed in the luggage compartment but, honestly, I'd say that it is just as likely to run into a problem with an adult passenger as with a child.

I've never had to wedge myself into a seat next to a 300lb child. I've never had a child bump into every row of seats because she refuses to pick up her wheeled luggage that is almost the exact width of the aisle. I've never been yelled at by a child when I touched his blue blazer that was almost folded and draped in an open spot in an overhead. And I've never had a child get loaded in the airport bar and laugh incessantly at the movie playing on his laptop.

Flying is ugly sometimes. Sort of like every other part of our lives.
Suffocating under a pile of cheese curds.

#11 foodie52

foodie52

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 6,340 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 05:20 PM

Yes, I agree with the above. I'd rather have a mom and a kid next to me than a 300 lb farting, movie watching guy next to me. I'm actually good at calming babies, too. At least babies can be cute.

On one overseas flight a few years ago, there was a mom flying with her two kids. She didn't have enough for them to do, and eventually,she started saying stuff like, "I'm so tired, you two give me a break." and "Oh my god, I can't take any more of this, you two are going to drive me crazy and then what am I going to do?" And her kids weren't that bad. It drove me nuts, having to sit across from her and I felt terrible for the children who were just doing stuff like ripping the wrappers off crayons and stuff. It was no big deal, but she was having a meltdown. I wanted to shake her.
[size="4"]Visit our website for updates...Friends of Colombian Orphans

Donations are always gratefully accepted.

#12 g.johnson

g.johnson

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 18,881 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 08:44 PM

If you hold an infant's nostrils shut for a few breaths, it'll will unclog their ears. Always helpful to know.

If you hold an infant's nostrils and mouth tightly closed for a few minutes it will top them crying for the length of the flight.

ETA: Evelyn beat me to it.
The Obnoxious Glyn Johnson

#13 splinky

splinky

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 19,571 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 09:32 PM

I agree with the restrictions on the massive strollers and some of the luggage restrictions.

I agree with Dr. Jones. I realize it's easy to be dramatic and claim that all small children on airplanes are a terror and should be housed in the luggage compartment but, honestly, I'd say that it is just as likely to run into a problem with an adult passenger as with a child.

I've never had to wedge myself into a seat next to a 300lb child. I've never had a child bump into every row of seats because she refuses to pick up her wheeled luggage that is almost the exact width of the aisle. I've never been yelled at by a child when I touched his blue blazer that was almost folded and draped in an open spot in an overhead. And I've never had a child get loaded in the airport bar and laugh incessantly at the movie playing on his laptop.

Flying is ugly sometimes. Sort of like every other part of our lives.

the problem is clearly with the adults who cannot control the monsters they have created. mostly, i find children to be delightful and some kids are perfectly well behaved. crying because of an earache is totally understandable, but letting your hyperactive hooligan run through the cabin, have a food fight, kick seat backs, climb up on strangers without asking if it's okay (the parents should ask if you mind. if the parents aren't worried that the stranger might be a child molester, i guess that's on them). if an adult does all the same behaviors, i can punch them out or maybe press charges when we land, probably i can't getaway with punching your annoying kid in the head. i've seen parents seat their kids rows away from them and never look back to see what's going on and leave the control and entertainment of their children to the flight crew and surrounding passengers. in the event of a plane crash or a hijacking, i would prefer that the flight crew be free to prevent or deal with the emergency, rather then focusing on getting a marble out of your kid's nose or figuring how to rescue them after they've wandered off and locked themselves in the loo. just watch your fucking kids and keep them in your own personal space.

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#14 Eatmywords

Eatmywords

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 649 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 09:50 PM

Wouldn’t be great if on your next flight seated next to you were your neighbor and their child?

#15 splinky

splinky

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 19,571 posts

Posted 21 November 2011 - 09:57 PM

Wouldn’t be great if on your next flight seated next to you were your neighbor and their child?

:lol:

“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*