April 11, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Switched seats: Yet another airline annoyance
Color me cranky. I recently flew from Seattle to Amsterdam (and back) on Delta. Bought the ticket in January, selected my seat, and paid more than $1,000. My partner bought at the same time, carefully nabbing the seat next to me as we each paid with our own credit cards. We got aisle and window seats together on an Airbus with its 2-4-2 seat configuration. Nice. Well, relatively nice as it’s hard to call anything about flying nice these days. But we thought we might actually get some sleep with just the two of us wedged together rather than being stuck in the middle of a four-person middle row.
The night before our departure I printed out my boarding pass at home (and he printed out his later at home). I didn’t double-check our seat numbers. Should of, I guess, but we had chosen our seats two months before and hadn’t received any notification from Delta of problems or changes.
Fast forward to the airport where we looked at our boarding passes and discovered we’d each had been moved to different seats and would be rows apart. What’s up and why can’t we have our original seats, we plaintively asked the check-in agent who shrugged and said she couldn’t do anything and that we’d have to ask the gate agent.
In case you’re wondering, there was no change of plane type that might have triggered seat reassignments. All I can surmise is that some passengers with more favored-flier status with Delta wanted to sit together so we got split up and moved. I couldn’t get an answer out of anybody at the airport or Delta headquarters when I contacted them later out of curiosity. The Delta gate agent did say the airline wouldn’t have moved us if we’d been under one reservation. But, hey, modern couples pay with their own credit cards and have different last names.
Reading the fine print, the airlines do have the contractual right to switch passengers’ seats whenever and however they want. But how about an email or some advance notice? Maybe a sorry-we-had-to-switch-you and here’s a $25 voucher. Any token would be welcome. Instead, we had to plead with a gate agent for seats together and wait until just before boarding to find we got them. In, yes, the middle of a middle row. Not one of life’s great tragedies, but just another annoyance up in the air.
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