Flying with status is great, and upgrades make it even better. Usually it’s good news when upgrades happen in advance – I love seeing the notification on my phone and in my inbox. But sometimes it can complicate matters more than help, specifically when traveling with a child in premium cabins.
Last Minute Upgrades Are Common
As an American Airlines Gold Advantage member, I don’t usually clear in advance. To be honest, even last year as a Platinum the occasion was rare which is why I didn’t see much point in trying to maintain my status. Since my three year-old (also Gold with AA) and I often travel with my husband who is an Executive Platinum, we tend to use his upgrades over our own. On those rare occasions that we fly without my husband, the upgrades clear last minute and can sometimes split up our seats causing the hassle of rearranging ourselves or others.
Though upgrades can clear up to 24 hours in advance, they rarely do. That gives little time to plan ahead or make adjustments. I am always grateful for an upgrade, but a little more advance notice would help.
Upgrades on Day of Travel Don’t Let You Pick Your Seat
With American, 500-mile requested upgrades are done automatically when the space is released. That leaves only whatever seats are not yet confirmed for other passengers. I knew there was a possibility that these upgrades may cause inconvenience to another passenger and I had hoped to get the seating arrangements resolved quickly and in a way that would not cause anyone hassle.
Unlike the seats we select well in advance that are together and in an advantageous location, day-of-travel seat assignments are essentially a grab bag. I wish that there was some way to secure your seat but avoid actual selection until later.
Other Customers Are Inconvenienced
On two of four recent flights, my daughter and I (both Gold) cleared. On one such flight three of us (including my husband, an Executive Platinum) all cleared into different rows and spread out over the cabin. We alerted the checkin staff at the gate who tried to reach out to another passenger and arrange a switch prior to boarding.
The staff was unable to reach him prior to boarding but had already switched his seat to accommodate us. The other passenger wasn’t happy, but the gate agent simply stated that he was not going to split up a family and have the child seated by a stranger. I might not be happy either if I was traveling alone, but his seat was still in first and frankly, it was a 45 minute flight – it wasn’t really a big deal.
I don’t want to inconvenience any other passengers, maybe he paid for his first class seat in advance and really wanted 3A instead of 6A. It also seemed like a little bit of an over reaction though given the short flight time and that he was in the same cabin, on the same side of the plane, just three rows back.
Upgrades Are Earned and We Aren’t Giving Them Up
Some elites sharing first class with us don’t believe my three year-old even deserves to fly in a premium cabin. They have said so much directly to our faces, commented on blog posts, and say even more than that with their looks of disdain.
But she has just as much of a right as any other elite or (paid ticket or award) flier. We are fortunate that we have the opportunities to fly as often as we do and that my daughter enjoys it so much. It’s been a dream she appreciates it every time we fly whether we are in the front, middle or back of the plane. She gets excited about plane rides and doesn’t mind being confined even for 15 hours at a time.
We believe airplane etiquette and manners are important – please and thank you to the flight attendants, headphones for devices, low talking voice, no seat kicking or even feet on the bulkhead, many of which some adults can’t seem to manage. If there is an emotional breakdown we quickly try to calm her down or remove her and go for a walk. I can count on one hand the number of times from her first flight at 8 weeks old, to now some 250+ flights later that she has had a meltdown in the air and we have never, ever let her “cry it out”.
She has earned her upgrades the hard way, just like every other elite and met all of the requirements. Simply put, we won’t give them up to sit together nor to accommodate a passenger that has already decided what a child’s behavior will be before she has sat down in her seat.
What’s the solution
Can American and other carriers mark families traveling together or flag particularly young travelers on their own ticket like my three-year old? I wouldn’t want to give up one of the few upgrades I clear as a Gold and don’t think I should have to, but I also don’t know what the right answer is.
First class domestic cabins are small and getting smaller. There are rarely two open seats together but it seems like maybe passengers could get an alert and proactively move to another seat to accommodate the family.
The alternative is sitting next to a three-year old or their mother, neither of whom is going to be particularly happy during the flight. Is that better?
What do you think? Is there an easier solution I am missing?
Honestly, as a 1K who travels relatively frequently with my family, I understand the concern and desire to be able to upgrade.
That said, I have zero sympathy for the perspective and honestly think you’re out of line for expecting that passengers who are already booked into reserved seats in F should move so that an upgraded family can sit next to each other. Why is this any different from any other seat assignment issue on the plane? You ask politely that someone move, and if they won’t, you either get comfortable that your child is old enough to be next to a stranger, or you decline the upgrade.
When my kids were little, I did decline upgrades if I couldn’t get two seats together. Now, my kids are old enough that it’s not an issue, but in any event, I so infrequently get my whole family upgraded as a 1K that if we’re in F, we’re paying for it, so I can get seats in advance accordingly.
I can’t blame the guy in 3A for being ticked at unilaterally being moved to 6A for a last minute upgrade.
I’m amazed that she even PROUD of she has done, published it in her blog….
Entitled millenial what do you expect?
Errr…. education, logic, common sense, courtesy?
She knew she purposedly discomforting others, yet she gone with it, brag and proud about it.
“I knew there was a possibility that these upgrades may cause inconvenience to another passenger”
Am I asking too much from this reputable blog?
@UnitedEF – I’m flattered you think I am young enough to be a millennial. And by entitled I am sure you are referring to my elite benefits which state that when an upgrade clears I am entitled to sit in that cabin.
@James – You say that I am proud of it, but it was American that placed us in separate seats and American that chose to move the other passenger.
American did it on your request, which you know beforehand you may discomforting another passenger.
You know its wrong. You did it. Someone suffer. Now you shifting the blame and play innocent?
@Greg Thank you for your comments. We have also declined upgrades in the past when we could not sit together. The point of this post was more that it seems that American could try harder to keep those on the same record locator together.
As stated in the post my daughter is also a Gold traveler on her own and her upgrade was earned by her own status.
I did read your post, and to be honest, it doesn’t matter whether she earned the upgrade through her own status or by “borrowed” status.
She was entitled to the upgrade, no argument there. The issue is that because she cleared her upgrade at the gate, you take the position that simply because she is a child, she should also be entitled to move another passenger out of their previously reserved seat so that she can sit next to you. Gold status does not give anyone that benefit. I guarantee that an adult who was short of (maybe) CK status who asked for similar would be told by AA to shut up and sit down where their *upgraded* boarding pass told them to sit.
I agree your daughter is entitled to sit in F, but if (a) you don’t like where she was seated because there were no seats available, and (b) you are uncomfortable or unsuccessful trying to convince another passenger to move so that one of you can sit next to your daughter, you should decline the upgrade and sit next to her in Y.
In your situation, it is selfish and entitled to expect that AA should inconvenience another passenger *at all* to accommodate the unusual seating request of a last minute upgrade, just because she is a child.
This happened to me yesterday on a 4 hour United flight from AUS to SFO (~4 hours). I got upgraded and my daughter didn’t. To me, the solution is they should either A) ask me if I want to accept the upgrade or B) only offer it if they can upgrade both of us. I was on the “complimentary upgrade request” list, so was she, but I would have turned down the upgrade. She ultimately did get upgraded last min and we were able to jockey seats, but I was quite surprised they can just separate you from your kid. Was also surprised that when they did upgrade me, it separated us out onto separate itineraries with separate confirmation numbers. Maybe that’s not a big deal as presumably they were still linked together? Anyway, this seems like an easy problem to solve if they just give you a choice to accept the upgrade, with a time limit of some sort, otherwise give it to the next person.
I agree with Greg…having said that I hope Greg is ready for all the hate he is going to get from the “Families can do no wrong and everyone should bend over backwards to make their lives easier!” crowd…
Because I’ve traveled with kids in coach and premium cabins for more than a decade, I’m extremely comfortable carrying the banner on this one.
To be clear, though, as somebody who takes my kids into the Centurion Lounges, I’m also perfectly comfortable taking on the “non-breeders” who think that kids can do no right… 😉
Yes it’s always fun when people see my family pull into the Centurion lounge or get settled into F. Plenty of GA’s assumed we were in Y simply because I was folding up the stroller to make boarding easy. The usual we will be boarding F first so we will call you when we board families. At which point I hand over my F boarding passes and get the apology.
@Conway Based on the comments, I’d love to hear a little bit more from that crowd.
Your family is a bunch of self entitles A-holes. Let’s just go an inconvenience everyone else. On AA you have request upgrades they are not automatic. So don’t request them and you will be able to sit together in coach. As you say ur 3 year old has earned her upgrades so then she should be able to sit in the seat she earned. Period.
On AA in a lot of first class cabins row 3 is the bulkhead. I can tell you that I purposely pick the bulkhead seats bc it is much easier to get work done on my laptop even in first class.
And sorry gold is bottom of the of the totem pole. Paid, EXP, Plat pro, plat, then gold. So u are beneath all those people.
Self entitles. I hope I could only be on a flight with ur self righteous group.
Also the lessons u r teaching ur daughter. So when she gets older she will be just as self entitles. My mommy has been inconveniencing everyone for me since I was a baby. Can’t wait till she starts treated u the way u treat others. #karma
@backbone I am unsure why you would think if two Golds cleared why others with Gold also did not clear.
I admire your patience and kind hearted not to mock/ridicule or even slap these guys/gals in the face.
“Some elites sharing first class with us don’t believe my three year-old even deserves to fly in a premium cabin.”
I was wrong to think 1st class passenger were more educated that coach…. lol
@James – I appreciate your comment.
I agree if you want to sit together then grab the best Economy seats that let you do this and decline the upgrade. I don’t have kids but when I travel with my family (including a handicapped individual), I either have everyone together in Economy OR I upgrade the handicapped individual to First Class and have everyone else in the back. If you REALLY have to have a First Class seat, you always have the option of paying for seat at the time of booking or using miles (which might be the worst decision in this situation).
@J – I totally agree that if you really want to have first class, you should pay for it, but to be clear we are both only Gold members and we both cleared independently as a result of our own status. When a problem like this can’t be resolved or when 2 out of 3 are upgraded, we typically all sit in coach.
” but his seat was still in first and frankly, it was a 45 minute flight – it wasn’t really a big deal.”
Who are you able to judge something is a big deal or not? Just because you didn’t think its a big deal for you doesn’t it also not a big deal for anyone else. You sacrifice someone who PAID something for your FREE UPGRADE!!!
WHAT A SELFISH PERSON YOU ARE, CARLY STEWART!!!!
@James – Why do you assume that this other passenger paid for his seat and wasn’t also upgraded for free?
First you assume its not a big deal for him, then you also assume he was upgraded for free.
WOW!!!! YOUR SELFISHNESS KNOWS NO LIMIT IT SEEMS….
I assumed nothing.
Then why you did it?
I think you are completely out of line and shouldn’t even request the upgrades when traveling with a 3 year old. You get Free upgrades and have to remember that others have Paid for their seats and with that comes the ability to pick a seat early and they deserve to do that. You however do NOT!
Don’t be selfish and with a young child you need to pick seats together, that may mean to pay for Y and sit in Y. Or pay for F and sit in F. But to expect others to move is disgusting and disrespectful!
SHAME ON YOU!
I have a young child and if we fly we fly together, that means I can’t upgrade even as executive platinum with American Airlines in order to sit together as a family. Sorry to say but your out of line.
@Scott – I respect your position, but politely disagree. Our three year old flies 100k miles a year (though not purely on American) and she is perfectly well behaved. She earned those upgrades the hard way in the back just like the rest of us.
Again, you purposedly missed every point here. And keep on bragging that your child earned the miles the hard way.
Wow…. just wow…..
Actually, I like the way it is right now where AA doesn’t care about kids ticketed alone in a cabin by themselves. It’s worked in my favor a couple of times as an EXP. on Intl travel one upgrade seat would open up a couple days out, and I would confirm my no status wife into it. Then with the PNR split at 24 hours, I would get upgraded and give the seat to my 4 year old daughter and take her seat in economy. Works great for me as I don’t mind economy as long as my wife and kid are relatively comfortable. If AA adopts a “real” policy, there’s no way a 4 year old would be ticketed by themselves in economy.
@Alex – That’s an interesting perspective. I think however I would have the same visceral response if my three year old was up there by herself, but again she has her own status and we both cleared.
I have to side with the majority of others in saying I don’t think it’s reasonable to *expect* another passenger to swap seats due to a last-minute upgrade, especially if the person being involuntarily moved outright bought the seat as opposed to upgrading themselves. That being said, I think there could be better systems in place to proactively match up passengers needing a seat swap with those willing to do so. Maybe they can develop a system where you can indicate in your profile that you’re willing to accept $50 in funny money for a last minute swap or something. I’d do that in a flash if I were traveling alone.
@MeanMeosh- I think your plan for making switches like this easier makes sense. The point of my post was not to suggest that everyone else move out of our way because we are a traveling family, but rather that perhaps software could help make these situations easier for everyone.
Hey Carly- I totally agree with your point about a software program doing it. However I agree with most people on here that as a last minute upgrade you should not expect people to move. Unfortunately I’m in the camp that books a certain seat for a reason (specifically the bulkhead on my UA flights as I am tall and like to be able to get out of the row easily without asking my seatmate to move. I have been asked by last minute nonrev upgraders to move seats so they could sit together and I’ve said no every time. Same goes for when I’ve been upgraded last minute, I take whatever seat I’m given and deal with it.
Look at this way too – I’ve seen people agree to switch from a row 1/2 to 4/5 and then come meal service time they cannot get their preferred choice because they moved, and the person they switched with is not willing to be flexible. Not really fair to them. And if it were me that got burned in that situation, I’d probably never agree to switch again.
I guess my point is there’s really no good answer. You’ll probably find some who are willing to move, and others that aren’t. I’ll gladly switch across the aisle or something like that but not to a different row. So I guess you win some and you lose some 🙂
PS – this is coming from someone who has gladly swapped an aisle for an aisle in the same row, but again that’s really the only circumstance I’ll do it, but at least I’m semi-flexible.
You are totally and bizarrely selfish. I wouldn’t let my kids fly in first class until they were ten and could behave themselves alone if we didn’t sit together. I hate people like you destroying a good experience because you think you deserve some exalted place in the universe. I would add that you need to go to parenting school.
What if the kids are well behaved and the seat were purchased (not sudden upgrade)? Still selfish?
@James – agree. This often happens to us on paid first class and first awards on foreign carriers where seat assignments can not be done until the airport.
@Boogen – Thank you for your comment. I respectfully disagree.
I personally think your attitude was out of line on this one, they offered you and upgrade and you should either accept the upgrade and the seats given or reject the upgrade.
I think it may have escaped your attention that the passenger you have forcibly moved from the seat they picked is a seat that they fully paid for, you did not.
It’s a total joke to suggest they should move for you and your kid that got the upgrade at no cost.
I also object to children being given upgrades like this, they should have an age limit of 16 for business and first class seats, come to think of it that should be the rule regardless.
Children don’t need business and first class seats, they are children after all.
@Philipw – American made the switch. I am unsure why their is an assumption that the other passenger fully paid for their first class seat and was not upgraded for free like we were. Do you know something that we don’t?
I appreciate your personal feelings about how old someone should be to sit in business and first class seats, but I completely disagree. My daughter flies more than many traveling road warriors and is often better behaved.
You missed something. American made the switch based on your request.
A request you knew beforehand would cause discomfort to others. And you also wrote in the article that the said passenger in fact discomfort by your action. Yet you offer no apology or a word of courtesy.
We travel in first with our son. Because we pay for the seats, assignment is only an issue when there were equipment changes. Because we are a party of two adults and a child, we were always able to get at least one of us next to him.
I also noticed flat out disgust and prejudice from other passengers and, frankly, from GAs as well. I can’t tell you how many times a GA hissed at us “boarding for first (or whatever category) ONLY” as we presented our boarding passes.
I have had passengers try to make my son move so two grown adults can sit together. (Didn’t happen)
I am of two minds as it relates to passengers being moved against their will for families.
On one hand, it’s a first class cabin and does it really matter which seat?
On the other, my husband must have an aisle (anxiety issues and one of the reasons we pay to fly first) and I can see him being upset if he was moved to a window.
But really, who would willingly want to sit next to someone’s toddler or young child and potentially be bothered or forced into providing them assistance? I certainly wouldn’t and I am a mother myself. I would happily move from 3a to 6a to avoid that.
People are strange creatures. Had the GA or FA said to the upset passenger “your choice, sit next to Lucy or switch with her mother” he likely would have jumped at the chance to move. Some people hate bing told what to do but if they think they have control, attitudes change quickly
Nothing is wrong that a mother should sit next to her toddler/infant. The problem is, it was last minute upgrade. She didn’t purposely planned on seating first class. By chance she and her daughter able to get an upgrade. She is already assigned a seat next to her daughter which they both paid in economy.
Furthermore, did she say any word as a courtesy to the said passenger she selfishly discomfort for her last minute upgrade?
Instead she bragged in her husbands friend blog and saying it shouldn’t matter for the said passenger. It is not matter for her, sure (she got upgrades!), but who is she can claim such matters in the name of others?
Its just plain selfish and arrogant.
@Heather – I wholeheartedly agree and I could understand a move from window to aisle or if there was a middle seat, but that wasn’t the case in our situation. Thank you for your comment.
Hey Carly, you all have earned your upgrades. Sorry for the responses of people who don’t share the same value that children be seated with their parents. It is an EXPECTATION that is now or soon to be written in the Federal Register in a bill passed by Congress last year. While I haven’t seen the text of the final rule, I imagine it would apply when seated (even upgraded) in the same cabin. Now, HOW airlines do this should be about the accommodation that works best for everyone. Drown out the shame game you see going on here. There is a difference between disagreeing with the approach or even the policy and the ad hominem judgments being cast here. All shall be well. Happy Flying!
Stay in economy then where you have reserved your seats together. Decline the upgrade, ESPECIALLY since is is just a 45 minute flight. As Carly said, What’s the big deal???
You are wrong. Dead wrong. She didn’t offered the upgrade. She requested it. Furthermore, she knows she probably won’t seat together and shall moved another paid passenger. Yet she done it, brag and proud of it.
“With American, 500-mile requested upgrades are done automatically when the space is released. That leaves only whatever seats are not yet confirmed for other passengers. I knew there was a possibility that these upgrades may cause inconvenience to another passenger and I had hoped to get the seating arrangements resolved quickly and in a way that would not cause anyone hassle.”
@DCDan – you’re right it wouldn’t have been a huge deal, my point was that American could probably do this better.
Thanks, Nick! I think you understood the true intention of the post
@Nick I have earned my cash and miles that I use to book my entire family in F or J every time we travel. Upgrades are gravy as a space available perk that’s not guaranteed. I don’t mind changing seats if I am by myself and the alternative is acceptable to me. When I travel with my family not so much. It’s my wife’s perk to be able to sit together with our son for the days I am not home traveling for work. Carly requested an upgrade and she got an upgrade. Much better seats than the back of the plane. If that law passes I can see people with families not getting any upgrades as it would be easier to pass them on the upgrade list. GA’s are already under pressure to get flights out on time to have to ask people to switch every single flight I can see objections to that. If want to sit in certain seats in F pay for F.
@UnitedEF, I’m not sure anyone is talking about separating you from your family, although I suppose it’s technically possible that everyone in first is traveling with (a) companion(s). Award (Saver) flights are also space available, not guaranteed. Seat assignments are certainly not guaranteed in the Contract of Carriage, our opinions about that aside.
@James, Returning to this scenario, the upgrade has cleared, and they are traveling in the same cabin (again, with the child having status and the upgrade in her own right). Let’s imagine a different scenario. In Y, let’s say you are traveling last minute (say for a funeral, although the reason immaterial) and there are not seats together for your family. Very similar situation to upgraded seats, a last minute change using what is leftover. Should these family members be sat apart from their three year old child? It seems that Congress thinks that isn’t the case, and we’ll see how the rule is published and implemented.
@UnitedEF, It is certainly interesting how programs might change their rules for compliance purposes, but I would imagine a PR backlash if a memo went out restricting families from these earned perks (especially if the child has elite status). Again, an upgrade is requested, but it is given within the rules of the program that Carly and her family have flown to earn access.
No doubt GA’s and FA’s are under enormous pressure to meet DO.
With regard to @Carly’s point below. Can American do better? Yes, but it is probably an expensive IT proposition and there are other fires burning hotter for them in that arena (ahem…mobile app).
You completely missed the point.
She already secured side-by-side seat with her daughter in economy. She wants to upgrade. She realizes by upgrading, another passenger is going to be sacrificed. She did it nevertheless, sacrificing that passenger, and no word of apology or courtesy.
And if you think same cabin means same flight experience, why is bulkhead seat, exit row seat is preferable in economy? Or why nobody prefers middle seat?
You are asking if Carly and her daughter should be separated or not. Nobody is separating them if they not requesting the upgrade.
You’re talking about congress and new rule. Have any of those implemented? Are those rule in effect at the moment Carly purposedly discomforting another passenger?
Gosh…. how do you able to live so far? Your stupidity is beyond belief!!!
I believe you’re going to be wrong in your interpretation of the pending family seating regulation applying to upgrades. Here’s the text:
(a) In General.–Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment
of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall review and, if
appropriate, establish a policy directing all air carriers providing
scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation to
establish policies that enable a child, who is age 13 or under on the
date an applicable flight is scheduled to occur, to be seated in a seat
adjacent to the seat of an accompanying family member over the age of
13, to the maximum extent practicable and at no additional cost, except
when assignment to an adjacent seat would require an upgrade to another
cabin class or a seat with extra legroom or seat pitch for which additional payment
is normally required.
(b) Effect on Airline Boarding and Seating Policies.–When
considering any new policy under this section, the Secretary shall
consider the traditional seating and boarding policies of air carriers
providing scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air
transportation and whether those policies generally allow families to
(c) Statutory Construction.–Notwithstanding the requirement in
subsection (a), nothing in this section may be construed to allow the
Secretary to impose a significant change in the overall seating or
boarding policy of an air carrier providing scheduled passenger
interstate or intrastate air transportation that has an open or flexible
seating policy in place that generally allows adjacent family seating as
described in subsection (a).
Thanks a lot. Very interesting. Would you kind enough to elaborate the possibillity of implementation of the following:
(a) In General. “… if apropriate…”;
(c) Statutory Construction. “…nothing in this section may be construed to allow the
Secretary to impose a significant change…”
Again thank you in advance for the enlightment.
I read (a) to require the Administrator to review, but not necessarily adopt a policy along these lines. Given the current administration, I wouldn’t bet even $1 that such a regulation is ever implemented.
I think (c) is probably the “Southwest Rule” that makes clear that Southwest doesn’t have to impose fixed seating to comply with this regulation.
Thank you so much for the enlightment. Is it wrong if I concluded in common people (non legal) word,
“there will be no changes at all based on the new law, since all is circumstansial at best.”
Is my understanding correct?
children should not be allowed in first class or business class in my opinion, at least not until they are teenagers. First of all, there are the issues outlined here, and it’s not reasonable for everybody else to have to help you out (I myself would never make a fuss over having to switch a seat on a short flight. A long flight is a different story)
However the extra space is also wasted on children. They don’t need the legroom! An economy seat to them is like a first class suite to us. Aside from the fact that it might turn them into spoilt brats. Think about the fact that there are other people (like, very old people or very tall people or very tired people) whose lives would be made so much better by having a bit more space.
I think if you have small children you should either sit in coach, or do that thing where the parents take turns who takes the upgrade. I have some friends who do that and swear by it.
@Augias – There are often times just the two of us which means that there isn’t always the opportunity to “trade.” Lucy flies enough to earn her own upgrades and she is entitled to her own upgrades regardless of the size of her legs.
Here, I’ll vehemently disagree with you. The kid has status on her own. She’s objectively entitled to the upgrade on the same measures as everyone else is entitled to an upgrade. Adding measures like age, height, etc. are ridiculous. You just clearly don’t want kids in premium cabins, and I believe that’s wrong (and illegal in the US).
What she’s not entitled to do is bump somebody out of their seat, though so that she can sit next to a parent.
I DON”T have kids, however kids have EVERY RIGHT to fly first/business class be it paid or upgraded. I travel a lot and I have status, earned. I pay to fly business/first class and if I had kids, my kids would fly business/first class too.
In terms to the “displaced” first class passenger, POO!! The passenger was STILL in first class. Yes there are some less desirable seats, even in first class, but the passenger was NOT down graded. Parents have the right to enjoy their travel, furthermore children (young ones) should be near their parents where they can 1) be assisted in an emergency – I’m pretty sure MOST adults are not going to worry about putting oxygen on a kid who is not theirs 2) where they can be protected – can’t tell you how many horror stories I have heard about adults molesting a kid/teen next to them 3) to provide parental supervision – do I really need to explain this? Given the recent issues with minors being removed inappropriately off flights or kids being harmed, parents should be next to their child, yes even their teen.
All this MOANING about “the passenger was displaced” is ridiculous. Yes as a family it is great to travel together, I won’t lie I like being close to my husband, and I do prefer the isle and would not be happy to be moved, but as an adult I also know that SAFETY is more important than a CK or EXEC PLAT choice. Would the grumblers here would be concerned with that child’s safe and make sure they took care of them in an emergency?
I can tell you that I HAVE, on several occasions cared for passengers in first class with a medical emergency. Sadly other entitled First class passengers DID NOT JUMP up to help and in each case there was that one person that spent their time loudly grumbling (too bad the person having a heart attack, stroke or seizure couldn’t control themselves right?) their flight was interrupted by a medical emergency. So was mine, I took care of a stranger rather than sit back and enjoy my first class flight.
My point is argue you all you want, parents need to sit next to their kids so they can be parents and take care of their kids.
Exactly! Parents need to sit next to their kid.
Which can be done in economy which they already secured. A greed of self entitlement to upgrade at the cost of other passenger is what was wrong.
As written in the story. A wrong which sadly, she already understand but choose to did it anyway and bragged around.
+1 to what basically everyone else said here. You sound entitled and elitist. My last minute upgrade cleared so I should get to sit where ever I want with my kids and kick out anyone seated. Just no. Decline the upgrade and sit in your reserved economy seats together. After all, to quote you, it was a 45 minute flight – no big deal. You really can’t expect a person to switch seats with you. Sure, most people well, but it can not and should not be an expectation.
@DCDan – As I mentioned in the post, I am not suggesting that everyone else should move their seats for us, but what I am saying is that when there are two seats in first together and we both clear, could American not do a better job of assigning the two seats together than the two seats apart?
Lol. They apparently they cannot, unless they kick another passenger who already had a boarding pass a few row back. And you admit it yourself the said passenger wasn’t happy about it. Furthermore you show no courtesy or a word with the kicked passenger.
You know you are wrong. You even wrote it in this article. Yet you forced a gate agent to kicked the said passenger so you can have a side-by-side seat in 1st, whereas you already have it in coach.
Still, you’re trying to shift the blame to the airline….
Does anyone expect anything different. Her husband flee halfway around the world after the airline told him they are cancelling his business class ticket only to spend 2 days at the airport making some employee life miserable trying to pull a fast one.
I am not married to Matthew.
Lol. I still curious how the Ethiopian saga ends….
It is also funny she says her kid is so well behaved yet in the 2nd picture her kid is kicking out into the aisle and blocking it. I’m sure everyone else in the cabin wants to put up with that and it’s a huge safety issue. But who cares about safety she forced other people to move to accomadate herself.
My husband (not Matthew) asked her to face him so that he could take this picture. You’ll notice in the other photos she is strapped to a Cares Harness which keeps her safe and facing forward.
Amazing! You read and replied all those comments without even try to understand what is written. You simply acted ME, ME, ME, the whole time….
There are a couple of issues. The presenting issue is that you need an accommodation because one of your party is unable to fully care for herself. The accommodation is seats with the carer next to the cared-for.
The other issue is that some people are unable to comport themselves in ways that other First-class passengers expect. Parents are accustomed to the behavior of children; many others are not. What seems “good behavior” to a parent may not be perceived that way by others. What to a parent sounds like happy cooing can be disturbing to someone unfamiliar with that sound. A child who pulls on the seat in front of her, or kicks it, even once, is unexpected and distracting. And young children, even on their best behavior, don’t have as much patience as is expected of adults. So those who chose First Class to avoid such distractions understandably look at your little darling with trepidation.
Should accommodations be made for the youth of one of your party? Yes, just as accommodation would be made if one of your party was elderly, had two broken wrists, or was otherwise unable to manage by herself. Are the standards for behavior in first class higher than the standards for travel in coach, such that those who cannot comport to those higher standards should not fly there? By custom, yes; by the laws and policies I’m aware of, no.
So if you feel your child can meet the customary standard for First-class travel, or that those standards are unreasonable and that your child can meet reasonable standards, then you can ask other passengers and/or the airline for accommodation once you have gotten your upgrade.
I don’t think a full-fare seatholder is more or less entitled to accept accommodation herself or refuse to accomodate others than a discount seatholder, a mileage-ticket seatholder, a mileage upgrade, or a status upgrade. It is the case, however, that the last category requires last-minute accommodation more often, and so puts a larger burden on other passengers. That burden might be reduced if some passengers were rewarded, directly or indirectly, for delaying their own seat assignment until after all groups including upgraded members have been accommodated.
Randy, I think that response is well thought out and carefully weighs the issue. Thank you for your contribution.
One solution would be if you can tie your tickets together you only get the upgrade if there are two seats together or two seats together can be found by moving someone with lower status than both of you who has also been upgraded to another seat within the same cabin. Seems fair to me and could be determined prior to upgraded seat assignments so no one has to move. You would probably get upgraded a lot less but seems a fair solution that could apply to any party of more than one in this situation, not just parents and kids.
I don’t mind (well behaved) children in first or business but I do worry about the entitlement. I only ever started flying first in my mid-30s and my first vacation at a fancy 5 star resort was in my mid 20s. I funded my own international travel in college and the most exotic place we ever traveled as kids was Disney world (and we felt damn lucky to be there). I think about how excited I was and how amazing it felt to have earned all of those experiences and do wonder about kids who are just used to that stuff from birth and what it takes away from them later in appreciation and gratitude and satisfaction in their adult lives.
Natasha, I totally agree that the reservation should be tied in such a way. Many times, we have had some of our three person party (though this time was just two and both cleared) not get the upgrade. In those cases, not a single one of us takes the seat in front. I would welcome such a solution, or at least the option to turn down the seats as we cannot sit together.
To the second portion of your comment, I can appreciate where you’re coming from. Growing up, both my husband and myself were in the same type household you were. Vacations on an airplane were maybe once every couple of years, and never ever involved first class. However, our parents didn’t have the access to information, nor the lucrative offers that now exist for both credit cards and generally more affordable travel. Her upgrade was a result of all of the miles she (and we) have flown on coach tickets, and in this instance it was a coach ticket upgraded for free. That being said, we have booked many flights in paid first or business or done the same with awards. While we are also worried about spoiling her, she seems to understand that every trip is exciting and special.
I have no problem if a young child is upgraded to first or business class if they earned it, they earned it, they deserve to sit there. I don’t think however people should have to switch seats without being asked before hand. I think you could have asked the man when you got on the plane if he would switch seats so you could sit together, I don’t think he would say no to a young child wanting to sit next to their mother. I would be a little annoyed as well if my seat was changed without someone asking me in the first place. If someone asked me I would have no problem with it, as long as the seat was in the same class. You shouldn’t just assume that just because it’s a 45 minute flight it’s no big deal, not to you, but it could be to someone else.
Lol. She knows what she did. She understands it perfectly. She also know it was wrong. She even wrote it in the above article.
However, I’m pretty sure her response will be along the lines of:
I appreciate your comment; or Thank you for your comment.
She simply denying the fact that she is wrong and try to shift the blame to the airline.
YYZFlyer, we didn’t have the opportunity to speak with the passenger before boarding and it wasn’t really our place to summon him to the gate to ask him for the switch. On the way home from this trip we had the same issue, but not due to upgrading, rather our seat assignments were simply lost in AA’s seat management system. We did exactly as you said, and were graciously accommodated. I think we will pursue that method in the future, though it’s hard to say if someone will be as polite once on board. If not, then the problem compounds.
The way its been explained to me by multiple people working for airlines, only a family paying for group ticketing can reserve seats together. Day of flight requests are accommodated per gate agent’s discretion. Once a gate agent re-issues the boarding pass the affected pax involuntarily moved only recourse is to seek goodwill compensation from customer services. The person being moved is not entitled to the reason for the move: disability, legal requirements or safety.
I am sure that is the case most of the time, but these seats were upgraded at the 24 hour mark so no one at the gate would have had a say in the process. That’s why I feel like maybe American could fix that part of the software to do something else other than awarding random seats when we are lucky enough to clear. Natasha had a smart idea in the comments above.
I have mixed emotions about this. I spend more time than most picking and watching my seat selection. I hate it when I’m changed to a different seat against my will. It’s also bad when someone asks me to switch as there is no upside. If I refuse they get mad and think I’m a jerk. If I switch then I’ve given up a seat that I selected , prefer and really really wanted.
I’m also wondering what you do when one of you gets an upgrade and the other doesn’t? I assume you refuse it so you can stay together.
I don’t have a big issue with a young child in first class but what if they get fussy and start crying or throwing a fit. It’s a lot bigger of an issue to those that paid much more to fly in first than those that bought the cheapest ticket.
I never flew with my kids when they where young so it’s hard to imagine what I would do. At the end of the day ANY Gold flyer is entitled to the upgrade they earn. Also imagine you carefully booked coach tickets all together and the GA moved you at the last second so you no longer sat in your chosen seat or next to your child.
I can understand that you wouldn’t want to switch a seat you have carefully selected. That’s why I would like to see American take another approach. We select our seats very carefully for long-haul flights and can understand how upsetting it is when those plans change unexpectedly.
If we cannot all sit in the front, no one does. That extends to even when two of us that clear the upgrade but one does not; which is a different situation from this one.
I agree that any Gold flyer that earned the upgrade deserves the upgrade.
Airlines should not upgrade passengers flying with children if it means putting them in separate seats and bringing their seat drama to unsuspecting passengers who paid for their first class seats. The author is correct that a flight of 45 minutes is no big deal so she should pay for first, select her seats in advance, and not inconvenience paying first passengers who prefer row 3 rather than row 6.
Well, she and her daughter are gold member. So why pay if youcan earn 1st class upgrade without paying cash?
Discomforting another passenger? Who cares…. I have a blog to brag. I’m sure all the world would support me since I have a cute daughter and I inspire people to take advantage over other innocent passenger.
You purposedly ignore Greg’s comment on July 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm, but you responded DaninMCI on July 23, 2017 at 9:26 pm.
Is it because Greg pointed out that you are wrong, while you were looking for support from DaninMCI for your selfish act?
Its a real shame. Matthew has put up a good blog. You’ve done injustice to him.
James, I’ve taken the time to read your repetitive comments and you’ve failed to express why one person’s seat assignment takes presidence over the practicality of a parent and child sitting together. Whether a passenger’s presence in F is a byproduct of fare paid or status is immaterial unless one is prioritizing who to remove from that cabin or flight. And as far as the airline is concerned, all F seats, perhaps bulkheads aside, are the same.
As the recent Ann Coulter tantrum on DL has reminded us all, seat assignments are not an absolute right. Where you sit on a plane is wholly in the hands of the airline…there is no RIGHT to sit where you’ve planned. The airline is best served when passengers are seated in a way to support the most passengers’ best interests.
We get that you’re upset. I can’t begin to understand the “why” behind your level of vitriol. Is it a general dislike of children in F? Anger that a child might get “your” upgrade?
The issue is that she didn’t pay for the F seat. It’s an upgrade. She had a perfectly situated set of adjacent seats in Y. If she didn’t like the available seats in F, she could sit in Y.
If she had paid for F, then I would totally agree with you – the airline should move passengers in F to keep the family together.
She’s asking for a special benefit in addition to the Gold privileges that she (and her daughter) are clearly entitled to: an upgrade pursuant to the upgrade rules. She believes that she is entitled to not only receive the upgrade, but also the right to move other passengers to accommodate her desired seating next to her child.
Like I said, I travel with my kids, including on upgrades (although it’s UA, so a different process where my kids are unlikely to receive an upgrade within 24 hours), and I actually love kids. I’m the freak who makes silly faces and noises at little kids to try to quiet them down. My objection has nothing to do with kids in F, and everything to do with not inconveniencing other passengers in F by demanding that they lose their prebooked seat in order to accommodate upgraded families.
Again, if they don’t like the seats that are available in F, they’re entirely welcome to stay in Y.
She knows it was wrong, yet she did it. No word of apology or courtesy to the discomforted passenger.
Its written on her story.
I agree with the majority here. Yes, being a Gold entitles you to the upgrade if it clears…regardless of age. But no, it doesn’t entitle you to move other people around just because you’re traveling with your 3 year old daughter.
As others have said above, if you REALLY want to make sure you sit with your daughter, then PAY for First/or Business…that entitles you to select your seat in advance. But, if you don’t wan’t to pass up the free upgrades that you’ve “earned” then be prepared to just take the seats that you’ll be assigned. (Most of the time people will switch…but don’t expect it)
In most cases, I’d switch if needed…even though I’m usually very picky about where I sit on my flights. (main reason I’ve been buying discounted F or J these days…or upgrade those that I can confirm ahead of time)
I think the systems that American/United/Delta have is fine. The solution to your problem is easy…either pay First or Business to be able to confirm the seat assignments ahead of time….or fly more to get a higher status to increase your chances of getting an upgrade…..or, yes it is a choice, decline the upgrade when it clears but no seats together are available.
I wonder if you’ve ever looked at it from the other person’s point of view…the person being moved…wouldn’t you get pissed off if someone just moved you last minute so they can sit together? To arbitrarily dismiss it and say its not a “big” deal, really doesn’t help your case since you’re only focusing on yourself and not what others would feel about this inconvenience.
Just be grateful to get your “free” and “earned” upgrade. Hopefully the comments here, some of which are unreasonably harsh, will at least open your eyes as to how your behavior can come across as being selfish and self-centered…though it might not be your intention.
I’m with most here: you expect more than your rights as an AA Gold, at the expense of others, which is why you’re being judged as selfish and entitled.
I’d be pissed too if I was moved three rows back. I’m slightly claustrophobic and want off the plane asap, so I always deliberately select my seat as close to the front of the plane as possible. Did you at least offer your third row seat to the person in the sixth row? Expecting people to agree to a worse seat is unreasonable. Most will agree to move further up (as long as their overhead luggage moves with them).
How could you expect her to offer her seat in 3rd row to switch with passenger in 6th row, while she didn’t offer any word of apology or even simple courtesy to the kicked passenger?
1. She was gold member;
2. Her daughter was gold member;
3. They both earned gold through hard work;
4. They earned their upgrades;
5. They are mother and toddler that have to sit together at all cost;
6. It was gate agent who kicked the passenger, not her;
7. She never specifically targeted or requested a passenger to be kicked from his/her choice of seat (eventough she wrote she knew it would happened);
8. The kicked passenger still seated in 1st class;
9. Its only a 45 minutes flight;
All in all, its not “a big deal” by any means in her book. Its her right to share the story in her husbands friends blog, whatever the intention is.
And seeing how she responds to comments, it is obvious SHE IS RIGHT and everybody that thinks otherwise whatever the reasons are WRONG.
Is that SELFISH and ENTITLED? Never on her book, that is….
The part she kept emphasizing how both she and her daughter are Golds and earned their Golds the hard way, therefore they deserved the upgrade, to defuse the very fact that she is totally INCONSIDERATE, Totally LACK OF RESPECT to the passenger who was involuntarily moved from 3A to 6A. To add insult to the injury she claimed it was the same F cabin and it was just a 45 min flight….
In that case, WHY wouldn’t she turn down the upgrade and just sat in Y with the little girl?!
She KNEW the agent would do the seat swap for you, but now she acted like a innocent puppy that “I did not ask the passenger to move, it was done by the agent.” Heck, if you did not ask, would the agent did this?
I can’t help but wonder, with this kind of mind set, what kind of a role model she would be for her young daughter – to raise her to become a tactful, cunning, selfish person that would try anything to get what she wants as long as the dirty deed is done by others? Just like what she kept saying it was the agent did it… Shameless.
I think all those who think the other passenger should not get upset are TOTALLY WRONG.
The problem I have reading this blog is, the author is very lack of common courtesy – even she KNEW the other passenger might not be happy, she brushed it to be “just a 45 min flight in the same F cabin”. Apparently she never ever approached the affected passenger to apologize and to thank him.
Then when the readers started to point this out, she then kept claiming they were both gold members, earned the status by the hard way, therefore deserved the upgrade.
That is NOT the point. No body here said they did not deserve the upgrade. The part that I and others dont agree is, she displayed DISPLEASURE, Yes, DISPLEASURE, that the affected passenger would even feel unhappy on the seat swap when he was forced to accept that. Then she claimed innocent, that all was done by the agent, not her. She “never” asked for a seat swap. . It was all agent’s own doing…. Really?
Not only the blogger is totally lack of respect to others, she is also a liar.
Honestly both sides of this arguement is way too overblown. First of all, I believe that it isn’t going to cause you irrephensible damage if you and your child sit in a coach seat, no matter if you are a lowly I don’t know Coal status or a Black Diamond Extreme Superior Level status. I frequently do 15hr+ Trans-Pacific haul and have come off the plane with all limbs attached and my soul and sanity still intact. After all the destination is the most important. On the other side, you condemn the move that if you move a paying adult for a upgraded child as selfish, give it a rest. I mean, please if you truely believe that a small inconvience of just moving across the aisle or behind a few rows will destroy your paid opportunity to experience anywhere from a half hour to fifteen hour flight, just fly a private jet. The only acceptable exception is if the passenger has a truely medical, phsycological or physical condition that expressively demands a specific seat assignment but if you are just angered because you couldn’t take a few photos out of the window, give it a rest. Remember, an airplane is just a mode of transportation, whether how much you paid for it or how excited you are for your premium seat. Also, seat assignments by airlines are not guarenteed, look at Ann Coulter. To be honest, this is just the Ann Coulter Comfort+ debate again just angry at the passenger and not the airline. Also wouldn’t you feel better that you made two or more people a little happier, I would sure be willing. Taking the Beijing Subway for countless hours now, I have given my seat up everytime I saw someone in need even though that means from entering to exiting the subway, I wouldn’t get the chance to worsen my scoliosis but I’m just glad that lovely handicapped lady didn’t fall to the floor when the conductor slammed the breaks. I don’t think everyone will give this level of generosity, but at least at the end of the day you will feel like a better person? Please, feel free to critize me being a ‘millenial’ or ‘uncultured prick’ or any other great adjective and nouns you have in mind！The comment sections on these boardingarea.com blogs are like youtube comment sections, equally riveting, agressive and exciting, just with a tad more bit of grammar！
Lol. Generosity extends to those in needs. Would you extends any kind of generosity towards a selfish, entitled, and proud person who shows no form of courtesy whatsoever?
You didn’t give your seat, a handicapped lady might be injured.
She didn’t kicked other passenger, all is well. She has secured seat in economy. And its only 45 minutes flight. Not a big deal, she said.
Well, I mean, I’m not religious but isn’t a central theme to Christianity or any faith be indiscriminate with generosity? Isn’t that why you pray for people who, based on your faith, will end up in damnation?Plus, if you are only giving to the ones who have pure hearts made of gold, there sure going to be a whole lot of leftovers. Also, the point I was making was that wouldn’t you just feel better that at the end of the day, a child sat with their parents and the parents got to spend an extra 45min with their three year old child, even if you find them the worse people only the whole entire planet? It’s a three year old child for god’s sake！Childhood only lasts so long…
I switch seats for families all the time. That’s not the point.
The point is that the author believes that because a Gold member is a child, she should not only be *entitled* to an upgrade (a concept with which I agree 100%), but she should also be *entitled* to move another passenger out of their seat. That’s where I have the problem.
This has nothing to do with generosity.
Chances are high that the guy would have moved if asked nicely (again, I have moved, and I’ve certainly had other people move for me in this exact situation). Where I think he’s justified in being annoyed is that AA simply moved him without being asked to have the opportunity to be generous.
As for the kicking comment, Sir, you have clearly never taken public transportation in Asia or any urban area. Physical contact is a prerequsite.
Well, some people would differentiate kind and naive. Some are too stubborn to admit they made mistake, posted it online.
Some would do another mistake another time, pretending the previous never happened.
Carly, people have made some pretty mean comments directed at you. I’m embarrassed on their behalf.
I don’t have kids, nor do I really want them, but on a 45 minute domestic flight, I just don’t see how somebody could be upset about having to change seats so a child could sit with their mother. I’m pretty sure that pre-booked seats aren’t guaranteed, and even if this passenger “paid” for 3A, what exactly were they purchasing, a glass of orange juice before takeoff (maybe), a lousy glass of wine and a bag of popcorn in the air?
Look, I like an upgrade as much as the next person, but if moving from 3A to 6A on short domestic flight grinds somebody’s gears as much as the passenger on your flight, I suspect they’re the kind of person who is never very happy about anything.
I gave up reading the comments about halfway through given all the self entitled vitriol people were throwing at you.
You should not feel at all bad when an Airline reseats someone to accommodate you and your kid. If people would simply extend each other a little common decency then this shouldn’t be an issue. But we are all so entitled to everything these days that you become the evil one for asking for it.
I think your basic premise here is correct though. The airlines need a better system for handling upgrades involving kids and that their current process has limitations isn’t your fault. There are reasons for that as you know and that means the airlines need to be prepared to move people around a bit to keep young kids with their parents. And simple human decency says that piece should be understanding of that. I would remind everyone that the contracts of carriage say you don’t own a seat assignment.
Potentially a part of the solution is a rule that prohibits seating children too young for UM status apart from their parent or guardian.
So now you play the card of victim? Calling friends to make anonymous comments on this article to support your selfish act.
I do wonder if will ever goes lower than this…..
James, just for the record, I’ve never met the author in my life, though she seems to be a talented writer and I appreciate the perspective she has brought to this blog.
Lol. Talented? Then why not make her own blog?
It might be called:
Selfish and Let’s Upgrade
James, enough. I know you have a passionate viewpoint on this topic and disagree strongly with the author. But I vouch for Carly’s sterling character and am proud to have her writing on this blog. While this is indeed a contentious issue in which reasonable minds can disagree, let’s keep our discussion on the substance and not on the author personally.
Well, since you requested it Matt, ok then.
I’m a parent that’s dealt with similar issues of being split up. But, I think the folks who are already ticketed in a seat (regardless of paid or upgraded) shouldn’t have their seat switched without their permission.
Personally, I’ll virtually always switch so families can sit together when I’m traveling alone. I hope it’s good karma when I need someone to switch.
But, I also know I’m taking a risk that we might be split up as a family if the upgrades clear.
Honestly, I think the only solution that could work would be to notify you/me of an upgrade and allow us to look at a seat map. If we decline the upgrade, we keep our original coach seating assignments. That’s not a perfect solution, either.
Wow, I can’t believe the mean-spirited replies throughout this post. I sympathize with Carly. It’s a shame that the value of status gets so diluted when families are introduced into the mix.
Back to the Original issue, there should be a “keep together” setting on the upgrade request. This setting would mean the entire reservation would need to be upgraded together or no upgrade is issued. Another option, is give the user a window to accept or reject the upgrade.