AF – Whole PE Cabin restricted if Infant?

Old Sep 30, 20, 1:15 am
  #1  
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AF – Whole PE Cabin restricted if Infant?

Hello FTers:

Hope someone have the answer to this strange "phenomenon" I have experienced...

Hubby & I are booked for a trip to Paris for the year end holidays, flying from JFK to CDG, with our two infants (one each of our laps) in Premium Economy.

When selecting the seats (we are flying in a B777-300ER), we are however able to select seats 24E, 24F, 24G or 24H, i.e. the 4 middle seats of the first row, only, despite other seats being available (not booked) but blocked and unavailable to be booked.

I called the Platinum Line (in Paris) in order to see whether they could get us two seats next to each other on the side section. The reason is practical – we would like to be seating next to each other – but also for health reasons (we don't want to be sitting next to other passengers, especially when having two babies on our laps) during these COVID-19 days.

The Platinum Line agent confirms that the other seats look available, but "blocked" to her as well. She suspected that this is because we have infants.

Those seats 24E, 24F, 24G and 24H have bassinets, which makes sense, but why would the other seats be restricted? She was then very puzzled, because she:
  • simulated a reservation without infants on the very same flights, and seats were available to be selected.
  • she removed the infants from the reservation, booked the seats, and re-added the infants, but then the seat selections got cancelled right away.
  • she simulated a booking with infants in Business and Economy, and there are no such restrictions in those cabins (you can select seats with bassinets or any other seats in the cabin), so it seems to indicate this is Premium Economy-specific issue.
  • she simulated bookings with infants on other types of aircraft (B787, A350) with Premium Economy, same issue in that all seats in that cabin are restricted.

At that point, she said she didn't understand and had to ask her supervisor and would call me back. She did call me back an hour later and told me her supervisor did not understand either. She told me that although it would make sense that "some" seats be restricted for passengers with infants (exit row, not enough oxygen mask etc...), it does not explain why all seats other than the 24E, 24F, 24G and 24H would be excluded.

They said they would escalate because they have no idea which services to ask, but they would keep me posted, but without much conviction, as they don't know who to ask.

Fast-forward a day later, I had another issue on my booking to be taken care of. Because I could not call the Platinum Line (it was 6pm in NY so the Platinum Line in Paris was closed), I called the regular Air France USA Reservations number (+1-800-237-2747). I was directed to an agent based in Amsterdam, and when inquiring about this, she immediately told me she would send a request to the "Special Services" to get me the seat assignment, and would follow up with me in the next couple of days.

Therefore, I have two questions:
  1. does anyone here know why AF restricts all seats in the PE cabin for passengers with infants? It seems very specific to PE. Is it a bug from the reservation system, or is there a deeper reason to that? It seems strange that even the Plat Line was clueless as to why.
  2. What is that "Special Services" the agent in AMS was referring to? How come the Plat Line agent was not aware of that service?

Thanks for your feedback!
vinnyc
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Old Sep 30, 20, 3:36 am
  #2  
 
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Hello
The AF PE seat belt are different than the one in Y ; They have an Inflatable seatbelt, it was a requirement for the certification;
I believe that the First row doesn't have this type of seat belt as there is no seat in front of you; look this link https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avia.../InFO11006.pdf
"To support compliance with these 14 CFR sections regarding the use of inflatable seat belts, assigned crewmembers should conduct briefings about the inflatable seat belt and /or direct passengers to the briefing card for additional information. Important information that should be relayed includes:
A. Inflatable seat belts are deactivated when the seat belt is unbuckled, or:
When the seat occupant uses a seat belt extender or When a seat belt extender is used in conjunction with a child safety seat"
B.The inflatable seat belt is not operationally restricted by passengers with lap-held children. However, the manufacturer of the inflatable seat belt does not recommend allowing lap-held children with any type of restraint system. Any restrictions on lap-held children are strictly the responsibility of the aircraft operator.


With an infant you need to hold your child during takeoff and landing and it may by that in case the inflatable seatbelt kick off it may hurt badly your child, therefore they prohibit the use of the seat with inflatable seat belt to passagers with infants

So it seems possible to use the inflatable seatbelt with some specific seatbelt extension but it means the passenger would be less protected in case of crash and AF has probably make the choice to allow only passenger witohut infant to seat on the seat equipped with inflatable seatbelt;
I will be interesting to have an official answer from Plat Line on the subject;

https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avia.../InFO11006.pdf
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Old Dec 16, 20, 3:57 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by pascalgr View Post
Hello
The AF PE seat belt are different than the one in Y ; They have an Inflatable seatbelt, it was a requirement for the certification;
I believe that the First row doesn't have this type of seat belt as there is no seat in front of you; look this link https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avia.../InFO11006.pdf
"To support compliance with these 14 CFR sections regarding the use of inflatable seat belts, assigned crewmembers should conduct briefings about the inflatable seat belt and /or direct passengers to the briefing card for additional information. Important information that should be relayed includes:
A. Inflatable seat belts are deactivated when the seat belt is unbuckled, or:
When the seat occupant uses a seat belt extender or When a seat belt extender is used in conjunction with a child safety seat"
B.The inflatable seat belt is not operationally restricted by passengers with lap-held children. However, the manufacturer of the inflatable seat belt does not recommend allowing lap-held children with any type of restraint system. Any restrictions on lap-held children are strictly the responsibility of the aircraft operator.


With an infant you need to hold your child during takeoff and landing and it may by that in case the inflatable seatbelt kick off it may hurt badly your child, therefore they prohibit the use of the seat with inflatable seat belt to passagers with infants

So it seems possible to use the inflatable seatbelt with some specific seatbelt extension but it means the passenger would be less protected in case of crash and AF has probably make the choice to allow only passenger witohut infant to seat on the seat equipped with inflatable seatbelt;
I will be interesting to have an official answer from Plat Line on the subject;

https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avia.../InFO11006.pdf
Hello pascalgr!

As we are flying out very soon, I eventually got the answer. An agent on the Platinum Service Line dove further in the documentation of the Premium Economy and she spotted what you said: that only the first row seats in the middle section are allowed to be assigned to passengers with infants on their laps, due to those seats not having the "airbag" (inflatable) seatbelts.

That was only for booking on the GDS though. The PSL agent was able to enter the DCS and was able to allocate my husband and I the two seats on the side. So it seems that the restrictions only apply before departure. Once loaded in the departure control system, you can get those seats.

Cheers,
vinnyc
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Old Dec 17, 20, 4:05 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by vinnyc View Post
Hello pascalgr!

As we are flying out very soon, I eventually got the answer. An agent on the Platinum Service Line dove further in the documentation of the Premium Economy and she spotted what you said: that only the first row seats in the middle section are allowed to be assigned to passengers with infants on their laps, due to those seats not having the "airbag" (inflatable) seatbelts.

That was only for booking on the GDS though. The PSL agent was able to enter the DCS and was able to allocate my husband and I the two seats on the side. So it seems that the restrictions only apply before departure. Once loaded in the departure control system, you can get those seats.

Cheers,
vinnyc
Very interesting - thanks for following up. I will be traveling in April in PE in a very similar situation, so now I know.

It doesn't seem that "Special Services" ever got back to you in September?
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Old Dec 17, 20, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by blairvanhorn View Post
Very interesting - thanks for following up. I will be traveling in April in PE in a very similar situation, so now I know.

It doesn't seem that "Special Services" ever got back to you in September?
Nope, never got a call back from them. Still have no clue about that mysterious "Special Services" that even the PSL doesn't seem to have heard of...

My advice for your trip in April is to book at least the 24E, 24F, 24G or 24H to have seats assigned. Then, after H-30, call the PSL (if you are Platinum) or an AF to try and get assigned a seat in the side section.

Good luck!
vinnyc
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Old Dec 21, 20, 2:13 am
  #6  
yno
 
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Just for info, also what could have played a role, is that you need a mask for the child in case in depressurisation. And only a certain amount of seats have an extra one. So per 2 seats, there's often 3, but not 4. We had that on a flight 3 years ago, I think an embraer, 2x2 configuration, only the right side of the place had 3 masks per row of two.
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