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Losing Assigned Seats? (Family w/ children, equipment change)

Losing Assigned Seats? (Family w/ children, equipment change)

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Old Apr 23, 19, 7:41 am
  #1  
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Losing Assigned Seats? (Family w/ children, equipment change)

We have 6 children ages 4 weeks to 12 years, 2 of them lap children, we booked 6 mileage tickets @12,500 miles each, and reserved seats together as two rows back to back.

The evening before my flight l when I attempted online check-in, I got a warning that children cannot be in exit row seats. The issue was that we weren't in exit row seats.

I called customer service, and was assured that it's a website glitch that is treating it as exit row seat.. and not to worry, in her system (and the one at the airport) it's not exit row seat.. so we should just skip the online check-in with no worries.

We got to the airport, and got no assigned seats at check-in.. the checking person saw only 3 seats together.. and said that at the gate they can do a better job accomodating us.

At the gate, the female agent was really nice and right away said she had us as 3 together and started working on the rest.

Then this rude male agent interjected that he would take over, mumbled something anti-semitic, and rudley told us to take our seats while we await seat assignment (my 11 year old noticed and right away and pointed it out to me as well).

They ended up splitting us all over the plane.. and they were extremely mean about it as well. My kids were literally crying, and they were just yelling at us to hurry up and get to our seats.

We sat in seats 17B - 19B - 26E - 26F - 31A - 31B
My kids are ages 4 weeks, 23 months, 7, 9, 11, 12.

I was horrified to find out after the flight that my 11-year old and a 9-year-old couldn't use the bathroom all flight, b/c the heavyset person in the aisle seat was asleep. I myself was stuck in a middle seat with a lap child 15 rows apart, so I wasn't aware of this.

They kept telling me that next time I should book seats and not wait for the airport to get 6 seats together.. this wasn't what happened. I had seats reserved!!!

Last edited by mendel; Apr 23, 19 at 7:58 am
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Old Apr 23, 19, 7:46 am
  #2  
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Response #1 from AA

Thank you for contacting American Airlines.

We understand that it is very important for families to be seated together. I apologize for any confusion regarding advance seat assignments. Despite our best efforts, we are unable to guarantee specific seats will be available upon check-in. This applies to seats requested directly with our Reservations agents as well as to seating requested via our website. Operational challenges encountered throughout our routing system will occasionally affect the cabin configuration and pre-assigned seating for a specific flight.

Mr. -------, at the time of your request to change the seats back, all adjacent seating was either reserved for other customers, "blocked" to allow our airport personnel to handle unexpected seating issues that may arise on the day of departure, or they are part of our Main Cabin Extra or Preferred Seats travel options.

Our Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats products are the best and quickest option for customers to obtain seating together. With Main Cabin Extra, customers get a seat in the front of the Main Cabin with up to six inches of additional legroom to stretch out and relax. Preferred Seats are standard legroom seats more favorably located within the Main Cabin. Both options are available for purchase when you book your flight, or up until the airport check-in cutoff time.

Still, we understand that some families may not be interested in Main Cabin Extra or Preferred Seats, but still need to sit together. We have internal processes in place, both in the days leading up to the departure date as well as at the airport, to assist families in obtaining seating together -- even if they elect not to purchase Main Cabin Extra or Preferred Seats. Many of these families will check in and find that they have already been assigned seating together. For those who have not yet received seating together, our airport agents are able to assist families in obtaining appropriate seating. In any case, we make every effort to ensure that families traveling with children are seated together at boarding time.

In addition, we have sent your comments to the appropriate management personnel to serve as a focus of discussion on how to better serve our customers in the future. You have given us the opportunity to improve, and we assure you we will do our best to do just that.

Mr. ------ we want travel on American to be pleasant and trouble free and appreciate your comments. We hope this one experience does not cause you to lose confidence in us. We value your loyalty and are eager to demonstrate our ability to provide the level of service you expect from American.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 7:48 am
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Response #2 from American

Thank you for your response, and for further expressing your concerns with us.

I'm sorry our responses have fallen short of meeting your expectations. Allow me to assure you that we have thoroughly investigated the matter at hand. While we understand that you are disappointed in our response, it does not lessen the concern we have for what happened. As a mother and a grandmother myself I have been in a similar situation. Therefore, I can certainly understand the situation. I am truly sorry.

Operational challenges encountered throughout our routing system will occasionally affect the cabin configuration and pre-assigned seating for a specific flight. Therefore, despite the best planning, pre-assigned seats may change because the cabin configuration of the new aircraft is different from that of the original aircraft. For these reasons, we cannot guarantee specific seats will be available on day of departure.

Mr. ------, our goal in Customer Relations is to share our customer's feedback with the appropriate management teams. We use all comments from our customers as a tool to evaluate and make changes where needed. Your concerns have been documented and made available to our executive management team.

Again, we apologize for the difficulties you encountered. We value your business and are working hard to earn your continued patronage. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 7:54 am
  #4  
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What I'm not understanding..

AA sells tickets with no option to choose a seat.. they also sell lower price mileage tickets which I assume are the same.

However the whole point is buying the more expensive tickets or paying the full mileage amount of 12,500 and choosing seats, should be binding. Or at least should they need to move us.. they should move us all together.

Also not to mention how rude they were.

Am I in the wrong here? Or are they?

Please do share!
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:15 am
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Originally Posted by mendel View Post
AA sells tickets with no option to choose a seat.. they also sell lower price mileage tickets which I assume are the same.

However the whole point is buying the more expensive tickets or paying the full mileage amount of 12,500 and choosing seats, should be binding. Or at least should they need to move us.. they should move us all together.

Also not to mention how rude they were.

Am I in the wrong here? Or are they?

Please do share!
The contract of carriage basically lets them change seats for just about any reason, or no reason at all.

That being said, DOT has policies on family seating: https://www.transportation.gov/indiv...family-seating

The anti-semitic remarks are particularly concerning. You can file a DOT complaint for discrimination and/or failure to adhere to the family seating guidelines.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:21 am
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While frustrating, neither side is wrong.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:28 am
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Originally Posted by donotblink View Post
The contract of carriage basically lets them change seats for just about any reason, or no reason at all.

That being said, DOT has policies on family seating: https://www.transportation.gov/indiv...family-seating

The anti-semitic remarks are particularly concerning. You can file a DOT complaint for discrimination and/or failure to adhere to the family seating guidelines.
There are no “policies” on family seating and as such nothing to file a complaint about. What you linked to is nothing more than tips and suggestions but none of that is policy.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by milesandmoremiles View Post


There are no “policies” on family seating and as such nothing to file a complaint about. What you linked to is nothing more than tips and suggestions but none of that is policy.
Allowing lap infants and exit row restrictions are definitely policy; they just don’t help the OP gain anything now.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by jliehr View Post


Allowing lap infants and exit row restrictions are definitely policy; they just don’t help the OP gain anything now.
Well this is true, it still has nothing to do with family seating.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:40 am
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Unfortunately AA is within the COC, seats aren't guaranteed, even when they FUBAR things themselves. Sometimes the only way to get them to fix things is to escalate to a Supervisor either when you called them and/or at the airport. Just make sure you have a copy of the original seat assignments when you deal with the higher levels and be prepared to be disappointed again. Given your comments about the male GA's remarks I'd definitely escalate this one if you didn't mention it in your original discussions with AA.

Do you have status with AA or their partners? I've had issues with them that didn't seem to be going anywhere until I reminded them that I was an OWE (LATAM Black) and the attitude went away instantly at the agent level and they found a work around (bumped me off a flight in MCE and were really unhappy when I reminded them that the weren't following their IDB procedures).

Depending on how much you want to raise the stakes you might want to deal with the social media group at AA. You're probably past the PM/DM route but a rather nasty post on the public side (don't put anything like the PNR or ticket info in the post) with the flight information (Flight Number, Date, To/From) along with what you posted in your original post here.

Other option is to send a letter to Doug Parker (the CEO) with all of the information you've put on FT along the PNR and all of the complete email replies and I'm sure that one of his staff will take another look at things, get back to you, and likely do something a little better for you on your next/return flight, at the very least if it gets through the mail room in time. Anti-anybody/thing comments have no place in any customer service organization so Upper Management will definitely be interested.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:42 am
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Unfortunately the DOT doesn't take up situations of rude employees and AA isn't going to do anything. The bottom line is that if families (really) want to sit together they need to pay for seats at the time of booking. Otherwise you are dependent upon having enough seats together and an agent's willingness to reseat your family. That's the reality of flying 21st century.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
Unfortunately the DOT doesn't take up situations of rude employees and AA isn't going to do anything. The bottom line is that if families (really) want to sit together they need to pay for seats at the time of booking. Otherwise you are dependent upon having enough seats together and an agent's willingness to reseat your family. That's the reality of flying 21st century.
OP had seats together, something (likely an equipment swap) changed things. Purchasing seats together wouldn’t give them any more protection or have likely changed the outcome.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by jliehr View Post


OP had seats together, something (likely an equipment swap) changed things. Purchasing seats together wouldn’t give them any more protection or have likely changed the outcome.
The question is did the OP reserve seats together or actually pay for the seats. For the latter AA is probably more willing to keep families together since they've paid for that privilege. If they simply found free seats together at booking AA is likely less inclined to keep those seats together. Another unfortunate 21st century reality is that one needs to check their reservation regularly for things like equipment swaps so that if there is an issue it can be resolved beforehand. Waiting for the day of departure and expecting a family to get seats together is risky and problematic. This does not in anyway excuse the behavior of the one agent.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
The question is did the OP reserve seats together or actually pay for the seats. For the latter AA is probably more willing to keep families together since they've paid for that privilege. If they simply found free seats together at booking AA is likely less inclined to keep those seats together. Another unfortunate 21st century reality is that one needs to check their reservation regularly for things like equipment swaps so that if there is an issue it can be resolved beforehand. Waiting for the day of departure and expecting a family to get seats together is risky and problematic. This does not in anyway excuse the behavior of the one agent.
OP called when he couldn’t check in the day before departure and was told to seek out an agent at the airport. Agent suggested going to the gate, gate agent 1 started to help but was overruled by another GA.

There is no evidence that AA prioritizes paid seating over freely selected seating when equipment swaps happen. There are plenty of stories of status holding passengers getting dumped to rear middle seats with equipment changes. AA would simply say sorry, seating isn’t guaranteed and then hope that the passengers forget to ask for a refund of the seat fee.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 9:18 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by ttuna3 View Post
Unfortunately AA is within the COC, seats aren't guaranteed, even when they FUBAR things themselves. Sometimes the only way to get them to fix things is to escalate to a Supervisor either when you called them and/or at the airport. Just make sure you have a copy of the original seat assignments when you deal with the higher levels and be prepared to be disappointed again. Given your comments about the male GA's remarks I'd definitely escalate this one if you didn't mention it in your original discussions with AA.

Do you have status with AA or their partners? I've had issues with them that didn't seem to be going anywhere until I reminded them that I was an OWE (LATAM Black) and the attitude went away instantly at the agent level and they found a work around (bumped me off a flight in MCE and were really unhappy when I reminded them that the weren't following their IDB procedures).

Depending on how much you want to raise the stakes you might want to deal with the social media group at AA. You're probably past the PM/DM route but a rather nasty post on the public side (don't put anything like the PNR or ticket info in the post) with the flight information (Flight Number, Date, To/From) along with what you posted in your original post here.

Other option is to send a letter to Doug Parker (the CEO) with all of the information you've put on FT along the PNR and all of the complete email replies and I'm sure that one of his staff will take another look at things, get back to you, and likely do something a little better for you on your next/return flight, at the very least if it gets through the mail room in time. Anti-anybody/thing comments have no place in any customer service organization so Upper Management will definitely be interested.
Do you have the email address to reach his office?
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