The Latest in Airline Surcharges: The Sit-Next-to-Your-Kid Fee — Dollars and Sense
When it comes to dealing with most airlines, a person can expect to deal with any number of extra charges ranging from those pesky baggage fees to premium-seat fees to food and beverage fees, right down to the latest inconvenience brought down by these sadistic ingrates: the sit-with-your-kid fee.
One recent story of a family incurring just such a fee caught our eyes:
In March, John Parish booked an American Airlines flight so that his family could travel to Disney World to celebrate his 5-year-old daughter's birthday. When he made the reservation, he was able to secure three side-by-side seats from Dallas to Orlando, Florida. But in July, the airline altered the schedule of the return flight, switched to a bigger plane and refused to permit the Parish family to sit together. The Parishes' daughter was relocated rows away from the rest of the family on the opposite side of the plane.
A customer service agent for American told them the only way to get three seats together was to pay an additional $60 to cover what they now considered premium seating.
"What bothers me about this situation is that they are trying to charge me for something I already had paid for because they changed flight schedules," said Mr. Parrish. "It's not fair when it is literally their fault because they are changing their schedule, but they put the onus of the cost and change on the consumer."
American Airlines spokesperson Mary Frances Fagan says that while they are “sorry that the Parrish family encountered difficulties,” an aircraft change can often modify seating arrangements. She added that those families who get separated on flights should locate gate agents and flight attendants, who “work closely with passengers who want—or need—to fit together.”
Travel experts say situations such as this are a growing problem with many airlines, but that usually flight attendants will do their best to ensure children are not made to fly alone. They also say that refusing to pay the extra fee to have a seat next to your child is the only way to fight the issue.
As for John Parrish, he doesn't intend to pay the additional $60. Instead he plans to trade seats with his daughter so that she can fly home next to her mother.