Family flying - picking seats at booking

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destinationnc
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Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by destinationnc » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:28 am

We're a family of 5 with three little ones that will be flying this summer. We've only flown once when we had one child so taking two more with will be a challenge. Of course we want to sit together and all my initial searches indicate we would need to upgrade classes in order to be able to pick our own seats. On some airlines this is adding over $800 to the overall flight cost. We're willing to fly a low cost carrier like Spirit, but when I priced out having assigned seats with them they were more expensive than United or American Airlines. Any recommendations on being able to pick assigned seats for a reasonable price?

Iorek
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Iorek » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:35 am

Fly Southwest-- families with small children get to board at a time (after A group?) when it's not hard to find seats together.

Otherwise I would adjust your expectations-- the airlines are increasing fares for people who need to check bags or sit together and flying with 5 people is not going to be cheap.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:39 am

Gotta pay to play.

Book 1 adult with 2 kids and the other with 1. 3 together is feasible. 5 is not.

Spirit is for backpackers.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by ThankYouJack » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:47 am

Iorek wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:35 am
Fly Southwest-- families with small children get to board at a time (after A group?) when it's not hard to find seats together.
And you can rebook for free if needed which is a big plus with a family.

The way some airlines are now charging extra fees is pretty annoying but I guess it's their way of maximizing profits.

gtg970g
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by gtg970g » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:52 am

Southwest is great unless you have a tight connection. For your second leg you would likely be boarding after the majority of the plane has already boarded and you will be forced to ask people to swap seats.

We never select seats on Frontier and have always been seated together (group of 4-6) although there is no guarantee. They assign seats from the back of the plane and you can see the seat map before you choose to check in.

TravelGeek
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by TravelGeek » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:58 am

It would likely help to know from where to where you are planning to travel. Suggestions of flying Southwest won't help if you are flying to Europe :) And even if Southwest is an option, a non-stop flight on a more expensive carrier might be preferable than a connection on another that is cheaper, especially if you travel with three little kids. Alaska (if it's an option) offers Saver fares (their version of Basic Economy) where you can potentially pick seats at booking time -- they basically set aside a section of seats in the back for those fares to choose from.
Last edited by TravelGeek on Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

OnTrack2020
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by OnTrack2020 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:01 pm

We don't fly Southwest very often, specifically for the reason the above poster mentioned. We had a connection where we had to go to the other side of the airport. We were pretty much the last ones to board. All of our kids are older, so it wasn't that big of a deal. At least I was able to sit with our daughters in the last row, one son sat up farther, and my husband and other son were across the aisle and up a row. But the only way I would fly Southwest with young children is to get a non-stop flight and to make sure you can board priority.

Other than that, I would pay the additional monies to get seats together.

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leeks
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by leeks » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:13 pm

With two small children, I just consider the lowest-price fare that includes seat selection to be the lowest-price fare and assess the affordability of the trip based on that. It is not helpful to think of it as an "extra" charge, I try to completely ignore the price of anything lower as those are teaser rates that cannot meet our needs.

In the same way, I ignore the price of flights that are not direct (when direct is preferred option) and I ignore the price of flights that leave at non-child-friendly hours. I also ignore the price of flights (for domestic travel) from other NYC airports that are not convenient for us to get to. If the price isn't right for suitable flights, I would look at other dates/travel modes or just not plan that particular trip.

It's kind of the same way we take a $20 taxi ride to the airport when we could instead spend $6 and 40+ more minutes to take the subway/bus to get there. I don't think about paying $14 extra for the convenience (although of course we are), I just think $20 is the price to get our family there - and does that work with our overall travel budget or not. We could also walk there for free in about 75 minutes - but I don't mentally compare the cost of the taxi to the cost of walking.

Before we had kids, I thought about such decisions much differently.

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destinationnc
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by destinationnc » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:20 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Southwest is in the locations we are going, and their early bird option seems like it will work just fine to get us all seated together and the pricing is reasonable at $15 to $25 per person each way. I know I'm out of touch with how airlines are pricing things, but I thought there would be more a la carte options. Oh well. Thanks for pointing me towards Southwest.

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destinationnc
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by destinationnc » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:22 pm

leeks wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:13 pm
With two small children, I just consider the lowest-price fare that includes seat selection to be the lowest-price fare and assess the affordability of the trip based on that. It is not helpful to think of it as an "extra" charge, I try to completely ignore the price of anything lower as those are teaser rates that cannot meet our needs.

In the same way, I ignore the price of flights that are not direct (when direct is preferred option) and I ignore the price of flights that leave at non-child-friendly hours. I also ignore the price of flights (for domestic travel) from other NYC airports that are not convenient for us to get to. If the price isn't right for suitable flights, I would look at other dates/travel modes or just not plan that particular trip.

It's kind of the same way we take a $20 taxi ride to the airport when we could instead spend $6 and 40+ more minutes to take the subway/bus to get there. I don't think about paying $14 extra for the convenience (although of course we are), I just think $20 is the price to get our family there - and does that work with our overall travel budget or not. We could also walk there for free in about 75 minutes - but I don't mentally compare the cost of the taxi to the cost of walking.

Before we had kids, I thought about such decisions much differently.
I could not find an airline using kayak/orbitz or a few major carriers that had the seat selection rolled into the price. What I was finding was you needed to go up in tiers such as economy to economy plus as a package to be able to select your seat. These plans had extra perks that I didn't need, but the pricing of them was quite high to get the seat selection - in my opinion. If you could point me to a site or airline that has the seat selection available I'd be happy to check it out, I just couldn't find it.

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Chip Munk
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Chip Munk » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:25 pm

Iorek wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:35 am
Fly Southwest-- families with small children get to board at a time (after A group?) when it's not hard to find seats together.
Yes, family boarding is between the A and B groups. Southwest's website states: An adult traveling with a child six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding.

Another option with Southwest is to purchase EBCI (Early Bird Check-In). EBCI passengers are checked in automatically 36 hours prior to departure, 12 hours before non-EBCI passengers can check themselves in to get a boarding position. However you are not guaranteed to be the in "A" boarding group with EBCI. If there are a lot of A-List passengers on the flight or lots of passengers who purchased EBCI before the OP did, the OP's family could be in the "B" group even with EBCI. Also, Southwest has raised the price of EBCI to $25 per person each way, so that would add $250 to the OP's total cost. It would be annoying to pay for EBCI and get "B" boarding positions since the OP's family would then board during family boarding, making the EBCI fee a total waste of money.

Southwest is my airline of choice because I like choosing my own seat once I board the plane. I'm not happy that they've raised the fee for EBCI to $25 per person each way, but continue to pay it because I like the convenience. Then again, there are only two of us so the fee is manageable. In the OP's case, I would probably take a chance and not purchase EBCI and board during family boarding. One caveat: if the OP is flying to Orlando there is a very small but non-zero chance that Southwest will not offer family boarding if there are a large number of families with young children on that particular flight. I've never witnessed this myself but have read on Disney-related forums that this has occurred on rare occasions.

scottgekko
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by scottgekko » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:26 pm

I wouldn't pay the early bird special for Southwest because, depending on your kids' ages, families with younger kids (6 and under) board right after the 'A' boarding group. This eliminates the need to pay the early bird fee.

If your kids are older than 6, then early bird may be worth it. Or just set an alarm to do online checkin exactly 24 hours before departure and you can usually get a pretty good boarding number.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by pshonore » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:27 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:39 am
Gotta pay to play.

Book 1 adult with 2 kids and the other with 1. 3 together is feasible. 5 is not.

Spirit is for backpackers.
I flew Spirit one time and I have never seen a plane load so fast. Most folks were too cheap to use the overhead bins. Some cities only have one daily flight which can be a problem, but other than that it was ok.

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Chip Munk
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Chip Munk » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:30 pm

scottgekko wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:26 pm
If your kids are older than 6, then early bird may be worth it. Or just set an alarm to do online checkin exactly 24 hours before departure and you can usually get a pretty good boarding number.
Good point that even if the OP plans to do family boarding, checking in 24 hours before departure might get them "A" group boarding passes.

ddurrett896
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by ddurrett896 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:42 pm

I just flew Delta with 3 kids and it was like $12/seat to select a seat.

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leeks
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by leeks » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:45 pm

pshonore wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:27 pm
RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:39 am
Gotta pay to play.

Book 1 adult with 2 kids and the other with 1. 3 together is feasible. 5 is not.

Spirit is for backpackers.
I flew Spirit one time and I have never seen a plane load so fast. Most folks were too cheap to use the overhead bins. Some cities only have one daily flight which can be a problem, but other than that it was ok.
We flew Spirit Airlines *once* before having children and when our incomes were much lower and saving a few bucks here or there usually felt worth our time. I don't even remember all the reasons it was awful, but I remember being adamant that I would never fly on that airline again even if it was free. We ended up receiving a credit that would have fully covered two future flights. We never used the credit, that is how bad a taste had been left by our experience. Of course, their service could have improved...

poker27
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by poker27 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:48 pm

I usually dont have this happen, as we fly Southwest.

however the last two flights we took (united and Spirit) we were seated together without paying

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:58 pm

I just flew on JetBlue, I didn’t pay to upgrade but the end result is my husband and I were seated together.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:05 pm

pshonore wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:27 pm
I flew Spirit one time and I have never seen a plane load so fast. Most folks were too cheap to use the overhead bins.
I'm sure the people were too cheap to use the overheads because a carry on beyond the small computer bag sized personal bag is (at gate) $65 per leg. So for a single connection, a round trip would cost $260 for that.

We flew Spirit a few years ago to Florida for vacation. I sort of welcomed their rules as I tend to be an ultra light packer (I can go any length of time with a small backpack including my laptop and charger) while DW wants to bring every outfit she owns. I spent the $10 per leg per person to choose seats ($160 total for the trip) and $100 each way for one checked bag for the 4 of us. At first, I was really angry at the nickle and dime way they do the flights, but then added it up and was $200 cheaper than anyone else. With the ridged backed seats, the flights were great. Too many times, I have the 15 year old in front of me who has to recline 100%.
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by smackboy1 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm

destinationnc wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:28 am
We're a family of 5 with three little ones that will be flying this summer. . .

Any recommendations on being able to pick assigned seats for a reasonable price?
How young are the kids? In the past we've had success socially engineering seat assignments. I ask the booking agent if they can waive the fee because we're a family with young children. If that doesn't work I ask the check in/gate agent if they can seat us all together because we have young children. All else fails, ask the flight attendant/other passengers to exchange seats. Start asking early in the process and be persistent. Don't be afraid to ask to escalate to a customer service supervisor. It helps to act sympathetic but not annoying/entitled. Generally airlines will do what they can to keep families with small children together and will not have a small child sit alone with strangers.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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destinationnc
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by destinationnc » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:31 pm

smackboy1 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm
destinationnc wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:28 am
We're a family of 5 with three little ones that will be flying this summer. . .

Any recommendations on being able to pick assigned seats for a reasonable price?
How young are the kids? In the past we've had success socially engineering seat assignments. I ask the booking agent if they can waive the fee because we're a family with young children. If that doesn't work I ask the check in/gate agent if they can seat us all together because we have young children. All else fails, ask the flight attendant/other passengers to exchange seats. Start asking early in the process and be persistent. Don't be afraid to ask to escalate to a customer service supervisor. It helps to act sympathetic but not annoying/entitled. Generally airlines will do what they can to keep families with small children together and will not have a small child sit alone with strangers.
Six and younger. Good advice about asking, it's worth a shot. I would rather just take care of it now rather than trying to do that and deal with the kids at the airport.

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Chip Munk
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Chip Munk » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:40 pm

smackboy1 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm
All else fails, ask the flight attendant/other passengers to exchange seats.
Based on posts I've read on other travel-related forums, many passengers who have paid for better seats state that they would not give up those seats. When I've seen this happen on Southwest flights, the flight attendant usually offers only a free drink to get someone to move, and that in no way compensates for the $25 that person may have paid for EBCI.
Last edited by Chip Munk on Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

adam1712
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by adam1712 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:41 pm

destinationnc wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:22 pm


I could not find an airline using kayak/orbitz or a few major carriers that had the seat selection rolled into the price. What I was finding was you needed to go up in tiers such as economy to economy plus as a package to be able to select your seat. These plans had extra perks that I didn't need, but the pricing of them was quite high to get the seat selection - in my opinion. If you could point me to a site or airline that has the seat selection available I'd be happy to check it out, I just couldn't find it.
For most flights, you should be able to find seat selection with Economy on the major carriers: Delta, American, and United. Within economy, there's now the possibility of three different tiers: basic economy, economy, and economy plus. Basic economy typically doesn't have seat selection and limits carry-ons. But regular economy should allow seat selection. Obviously it costs more but in many cases it's in the $25-50 range. I realize that still adds up for 5 but you shouldn't have to be upgrading to economy plus to get seats. Also, I've found kayak/orbitz to be a real pain for trying to separate flights between basic economy and economy.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Trader Joe » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:56 pm

Chip Munk wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:40 pm
smackboy1 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm
All else fails, ask the flight attendant/other passengers to exchange seats.
Based on posts I've read on other travel-related forums, many passengers who have paid for better seats state that they would not give up those seats. When I've seen this happen on Southwest flights, the flight attendant usually offers only a free drink to get someone to move, and that in no way compensates for the $25 that person may have paid for EBCI.
I travel all the time. I am asked all the time to exchange seats (for one excuse or another). I always decline. I never move from my assigned seat.

JoeRetire
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by JoeRetire » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:00 pm

destinationnc wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:28 am
Of course we want to sit together and all my initial searches indicate we would need to upgrade classes in order to be able to pick our own seats.
On jetBlue I pick seats all the time without upgrading classes.

Book early so more seats are available.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Texanbybirth » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:13 pm

I also highly recommend Southwest. We never get Early Bird Check-In, as family boarding after the A group has NEVER not yielded us our choice of seats. They're not in the front of the plane, but we don't care because our (3, little) kids are good flyers. We even fly regularly into Orlando (Disney), which as I'm sure you know is a kid-heavy flight (like almost one-to-one adult to kid ratio). We do tend to get to the gate early to make sure we can save our spot in the family boarding zone. I also love the 2 free checked bags, in addition to being able to check a car seat and stroller for each kiddo.

We fly out of Dallas, and so have our pick of American or SWA. It's interesting to note that sometimes AA's Economy ticket (that allows seat selection) will be cheaper than SWA's. We do have the Citi Aadvantage card, so we get 1 free checked bag per ticketed passenger, and I know that otherwise AA's baggage fees would mess up that comparison. It all depends on whether we have accrued any serious frequent flyer miles as to how we make that decision. We flew SWA in fall, and we're booked on AA this spring. I'm never anxious about flying either one with the kiddos. Good luck, and like someone else said, you really will have to pay to play the airlines' games if you want to sit together. :beer
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by mariezzz » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:11 pm

destinationnc wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:28 am
We're a family of 5 with three little ones that will be flying this summer. We've only flown once when we had one child so taking two more with will be a challenge. Of course we want to sit together and all my initial searches indicate we would need to upgrade classes in order to be able to pick our own seats. On some airlines this is adding over $800 to the overall flight cost. We're willing to fly a low cost carrier like Spirit, but when I priced out having assigned seats with them they were more expensive than United or American Airlines. Any recommendations on being able to pick assigned seats for a reasonable price?
How long would it take to drive? With 3 small kids, I'd be willing to drive at least 18-20 hours to avoid the airport, maybe more if there are 2 drivers.

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leeks
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by leeks » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:16 pm

Chip Munk wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:40 pm
smackboy1 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm
All else fails, ask the flight attendant/other passengers to exchange seats.
Based on posts I've read on other travel-related forums, many passengers who have paid for better seats state that they would not give up those seats. When I've seen this happen on Southwest flights, the flight attendant usually offers only a free drink to get someone to move, and that in no way compensates for the $25 that person may have paid for EBCI.
Yes, it is so annoying that some airlines set it up this way but it is not fair to ask people to move who paid to select their seats because you didn't pay to select yours. And you can't easily tell who did/did not pay a price that included seats. And it would be unfair if a flight attendant bumped someone out of a seat they selected to accommodate you. For these kinds of airlines, if you need adjacent seats, you need to have those assignments one way or another before you get to the gate.

Now in a case of missed connections or aircraft changed or sonething unplanned, if you are asking other passengers to accommodate I would explicitly state that you did purchase seats together on your original itinerary to make people more likely to move than if they thought you just didn't want to pay the proper fare for your family.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by jbmitt » Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:54 pm

Just be aware of lap children. Usually a mainline row of 3 seats has 4 emergency air masks. Some regional jets with rows of 2 seats only have extra air masks on one side. You’re not allowed to have more people in a row than air masks.

If you have two children above the age of 2. I’d try to get 1 row with an adult, and then try to get a seat for the other adult and lap child in close proximity.

The flight attendants and gate agents are usually pretty good about using the reserved aft rows and emergency exits to move passengers without small kids to exit rows and keep families together in the back.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by inbox788 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:38 pm

leeks wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:16 pm
Yes, it is so annoying that some airlines set it up this way but it is not fair to ask people to move who paid to select their seats because you didn't pay to select yours. And you can't easily tell who did/did not pay a price that included seats. And it would be unfair if a flight attendant bumped someone out of a seat they selected to accommodate you. For these kinds of airlines, if you need adjacent seats, you need to have those assignments one way or another before you get to the gate.
The changes to seat assignment flexibility can be challenging. I made a booking that required changing to match another traveler, so besides the raise in fare, I was expecting a fee to make a seat selection. Fortunately, the fee I paid for the original seat selection covered the seat selection on the new trip itinerary. However, there was no adjacent seat, so both of us would have needed new seat assignments. Mine was covered, but the companion couldn't change his seat without paying an additional fee. Strange policy and not what I would have expected, and likely variable based on specific airline, class/fare code and/or flight. I wound up getting a nearby seat row across that was available.

OP, do the best you can, and if you're flexible, there may be kind agents or other customers who can help you out. Book strategically and worse case if you can give up an aisle or window seat for a middle seat, most travelers would accommodate (but not the reverse, especially if they paid extra for it).

https://onemileatatime.com/consistently ... eat-plane/

Personally, I'm afraid to fly Spirit and other super low cost airlines. They tend to nickle and dime you with lots of extra fees and limitations. Unfortunately major airlines are starting to compete to the bottom with very basic economy fares that are similarly awful. And Wow just went belly up:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/ma ... nd-tourism

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by rkhusky » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:48 pm

We fly Delta all the time and have never paid extra for seat selection. We get a whole row - 6 seats. But we do book a ways in advance.

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fortfun
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by fortfun » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:05 pm

We never pay for seat assignments and always get at least one adult by the kids. YMMV. Phone and gate agents usually work hard to get parent with child.

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leeks
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by leeks » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:15 pm

rkhusky wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:48 pm
We fly Delta all the time and have never paid extra for seat selection. We get a whole row - 6 seats. But we do book a ways in advance.
I doubt you are really booking the "basic economy" fares because those do not allow seat selection "a ways in advance."

You are probably booking at least "main cabin" which is the minimum to get a seat selection. On Delta domestic flights at least, purchasing at minimum a ticket in "main cabin" is what I am referring to when I say "paying more" to get the kid of ticket that includes seat selection. I don't mean a separate purchase for the seats (although there are ways they upsell those too) but rather purchasing a fare that allows you to select your seat at the time of ticket purchase.

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leeks
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by leeks » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:19 pm

fortfun wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:05 pm
We never pay for seat assignments and always get at least one adult by the kids. YMMV. Phone and gate agents usually work hard to get parent with child.
Are you booking "basic economy" fares with an airline that explicitly excludes advance seat selection from that fare class?
When you purchase that kind of fare - at least on Delta but I think United and American are similar - there is an extra confirmation step during purchase where you indicate you are aware that you will not be allowed to select your seats. It is people who purchase that kind of ticket - explicitly opting in to the "no seat selection" - but then show up at the airport and demand adjacent seats that I think are being unfair given the current airline offerings (as terrible as I find those offerings to be).

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Bacchus01 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:24 pm

Get a frequent flyer account with whichever airline you choose. That can often helps.

Southwest is the Walmart if airlines and sucks. I fly it only as a last resort. I recently traveled with my family. Despite me being A-list, the family was not. Unlike United where my status gives me the ability to take everyone to first class sometimes.

I paid for early-bird for the rest of the family. They were at the end of the As and we did NOT get to sit completely together. We sat 2 and 3. We are 5 total.

Frontier? Good god. Never.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by radiowave » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:14 pm

When I fly Southwest, I take a window seat in the very last row. The idea is with SW most passengers want to get to the front of the aircraft for quick deplanning. I've had several flights where I had no middle and occasionally the entire row to myself as that is the very last place people like to sit right in front of the lav and no reclining seats. For a family, there is a reasonable chance you'll get the entire row or both sides using this strategy. Only drawback is as above as well as being the last off the aircraft.
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tibbitts
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by tibbitts » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:35 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:24 pm
Get a frequent flyer account with whichever airline you choose. That can often helps.

Southwest is the Walmart if airlines and sucks. I fly it only as a last resort. I recently traveled with my family. Despite me being A-list, the family was not. Unlike United where my status gives me the ability to take everyone to first class sometimes.

I paid for early-bird for the rest of the family. They were at the end of the As and we did NOT get to sit completely together. We sat 2 and 3. We are 5 total.

Frontier? Good god. Never.
Yes but your experience only applies to extremely, extremely frequent fliers. Even when I would fly roughly 100 segments a year on a single airline I never had the ability to "take everyone to first class." In fact I never had the ability to take even one person other than myself to first class except that once I got a promotion on another airline that gave me some upgrade coupons - but the coupons were only good for upgrading from fairly expensive fares, not the lowest economy fares.

mgensler
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by mgensler » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:26 am

We have four kids and at the ages of your kids the airlines always assigned seats together or in the same row. I think it might be some type of rule maybe by carrier or FAA. I wouldn't sweat it. Besides, no one wants to sit alone with a two year old. :)

student
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by student » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:57 am

Trader Joe wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:56 pm
Chip Munk wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:40 pm
smackboy1 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm
All else fails, ask the flight attendant/other passengers to exchange seats.
Based on posts I've read on other travel-related forums, many passengers who have paid for better seats state that they would not give up those seats. When I've seen this happen on Southwest flights, the flight attendant usually offers only a free drink to get someone to move, and that in no way compensates for the $25 that person may have paid for EBCI.
I travel all the time. I am asked all the time to exchange seats (for one excuse or another). I always decline. I never move from my assigned seat.
I am usually willing to switch if it is to an aisle seat but otherwise I would decline especially when I have paid for the seat selection.

Bacchus01
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Bacchus01 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:07 am

mgensler wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:26 am
We have four kids and at the ages of your kids the airlines always assigned seats together or in the same row. I think it might be some type of rule maybe by carrier or FAA. I wouldn't sweat it. Besides, no one wants to sit alone with a two year old. :)
For most airlines those rules have changed.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Bacchus01 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:09 am

tibbitts wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:35 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:24 pm
Get a frequent flyer account with whichever airline you choose. That can often helps.

Southwest is the Walmart if airlines and sucks. I fly it only as a last resort. I recently traveled with my family. Despite me being A-list, the family was not. Unlike United where my status gives me the ability to take everyone to first class sometimes.

I paid for early-bird for the rest of the family. They were at the end of the As and we did NOT get to sit completely together. We sat 2 and 3. We are 5 total.

Frontier? Good god. Never.
Yes but your experience only applies to extremely, extremely frequent fliers. Even when I would fly roughly 100 segments a year on a single airline I never had the ability to "take everyone to first class." In fact I never had the ability to take even one person other than myself to first class except that once I got a promotion on another airline that gave me some upgrade coupons - but the coupons were only good for upgrading from fairly expensive fares, not the lowest economy fares.
No, it’s not extreme. United Gold will usually get you and a guest to first. Not always, but usually. Platinum will get you and several guests there. It’s getting harder for sure.

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leeks
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by leeks » Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:31 am

Bacchus01 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:07 am
mgensler wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:26 am
We have four kids and at the ages of your kids the airlines always assigned seats together or in the same row. I think it might be some type of rule maybe by carrier or FAA. I wouldn't sweat it. Besides, no one wants to sit alone with a two year old. :)
For most airlines those rules have changed.
No, there is no guaranteed seating of families together at least on domestic Delta, United, American flights.

Of course, if the plane is not very full it is no issue, gate agents will easily rearrange when there are open seats or the computer will have automatically seated the family together *if there were such seats available at check-in*. But if the flight is full or close to it, and the family purchased the "basic economy" fares, they are likely to have been assigned separate middle seats as all the window and aisle seats were taken by those whose fares allowed them to select seats first.

I have been on a number of flights where families told that they have to ask other passengers to switch if they want to get seats together - even with toddler-age children. And when all you have are middle seats, no one wants to trade. This is definitely something that happens under current airline fare structure and seating policies, at least with the three airlines I typically fly. It delays boarding and leads to uncomfortable confrontations. It is to be avoided.

winT
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by winT » Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:16 am

We are travelling domestic in few months with 2 kids and I booked the basic economy fare (should have avoided but it was too late to change). I called Delta last month explaining the situation and the nice rep was able to assign seats to 2 kids+1 adult ahead of time. Not sure if this is going to work with every rep though.

Gnirk
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by Gnirk » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:42 am

If I were traveling with small children, I would pay the higher main cabin fares so that I’m able to select seats together. Why would anyone think it’s okay to ask those who paid the main cabin fares to switch seats to accommodate them because they chose not to?

I always book a left side aisle seat because my right arm goes numb if it stays in one position for too long. Because of that, the only time I would trade seats is for another left aisle seat.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by rkhusky » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:43 pm

leeks wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:15 pm
rkhusky wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:48 pm
We fly Delta all the time and have never paid extra for seat selection. We get a whole row - 6 seats. But we do book a ways in advance.
I doubt you are really booking the "basic economy" fares because those do not allow seat selection "a ways in advance."

You are probably booking at least "main cabin" which is the minimum to get a seat selection. On Delta domestic flights at least, purchasing at minimum a ticket in "main cabin" is what I am referring to when I say "paying more" to get the kid of ticket that includes seat selection. I don't mean a separate purchase for the seats (although there are ways they upsell those too) but rather purchasing a fare that allows you to select your seat at the time of ticket purchase.
Or perhaps we purchased our tickets for this past Christmas before Delta started charging extra for seat assignment. We probably bought in August or September.

rkhusky
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by rkhusky » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:53 pm

Even if you pay for seat assignments, make sure that your tickets are linked. We have had the situation where the airline switched aircraft and separated us from the kids. We had to ask other passengers to switch, but we often had an aisle or window seat and so didn’t inconvenience switchers much. I always envisioned having to yell across the plane for our young ones to stop kicking the seat ahead of them if we couldn’t get anyone to switch.

fourkids
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by fourkids » Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:01 pm

Congress passed a law in 2016 to ensure that families with kids under 13 could sit together, called the "Families Flying Together Act",
as one Congressman said “to put an end to the absurdity of toddlers sitting separate or unattended on an airplane — requiring airlines to plan ahead so that families with young children can fly together,” https://familytravel.org/congress-passe ... -together/

Unfortunately, the FAA has not rolled out the rule yet to airlines (thanks Gov't bureaucracy), so airlines still separate families. The systems can easily accommodate this but don't. Luckily many nice airline employees will try to accommodate.
Seriously, how hard is it for the airline to just automatically assign a family of 4, 5, or 6 to the back rows of the plane? No one else picks or pays for those seats.

If the FAA doesn't enact this law soon, someone will sue when something goes wrong

westie
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by westie » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:02 pm

there's no guarantees in today's wacky world of air travel, you can be moved 2 hours after takeoff. Wife and I were flying from Zurich to Boston a couple of months ago on an early evening flight. Plane almost completely full, fortunate for us the final two rows were empty in a 2-4-2 seating setup all the way across. We sat together in the two seat side. Once the plane took off and reached cruising altitude I moved to the middle (four empty seats) to stretch out to rest. Was awoken by flight attendant an hour later and was told to move back to my original seat. Why? So the flight attendants could sleep in two hour shifts.

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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by tibbitts » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:31 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:09 am
tibbitts wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:35 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:24 pm
Get a frequent flyer account with whichever airline you choose. That can often helps.

Southwest is the Walmart if airlines and sucks. I fly it only as a last resort. I recently traveled with my family. Despite me being A-list, the family was not. Unlike United where my status gives me the ability to take everyone to first class sometimes.

I paid for early-bird for the rest of the family. They were at the end of the As and we did NOT get to sit completely together. We sat 2 and 3. We are 5 total.

Frontier? Good god. Never.
Yes but your experience only applies to extremely, extremely frequent fliers. Even when I would fly roughly 100 segments a year on a single airline I never had the ability to "take everyone to first class." In fact I never had the ability to take even one person other than myself to first class except that once I got a promotion on another airline that gave me some upgrade coupons - but the coupons were only good for upgrading from fairly expensive fares, not the lowest economy fares.
No, it’s not extreme. United Gold will usually get you and a guest to first. Not always, but usually. Platinum will get you and several guests there. It’s getting harder for sure.
The last statistics I saw indicated that Platinum Level (or whatever the equivalent on your airline of choice might be) applies to far fewer than 1% of travelers in every frequent flier program, so that's what I was basing "extremely frequent fliers" on.

I had reached Gold on three different primarily-domestic airlines (admittedly there were more airlines back then) and was never able to have someone join me when I got upgraded to first class - which back then sometimes happened relatively frequently, I'm sure more often than it would today.

SRenaeP
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Re: Family flying - picking seats at booking

Post by SRenaeP » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:04 am

tibbitts wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:31 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:09 am
tibbitts wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:35 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:24 pm
Get a frequent flyer account with whichever airline you choose. That can often helps.

Southwest is the Walmart if airlines and sucks. I fly it only as a last resort. I recently traveled with my family. Despite me being A-list, the family was not. Unlike United where my status gives me the ability to take everyone to first class sometimes.

I paid for early-bird for the rest of the family. They were at the end of the As and we did NOT get to sit completely together. We sat 2 and 3. We are 5 total.

Frontier? Good god. Never.
Yes but your experience only applies to extremely, extremely frequent fliers. Even when I would fly roughly 100 segments a year on a single airline I never had the ability to "take everyone to first class." In fact I never had the ability to take even one person other than myself to first class except that once I got a promotion on another airline that gave me some upgrade coupons - but the coupons were only good for upgrading from fairly expensive fares, not the lowest economy fares.
No, it’s not extreme. United Gold will usually get you and a guest to first. Not always, but usually. Platinum will get you and several guests there. It’s getting harder for sure.
The last statistics I saw indicated that Platinum Level (or whatever the equivalent on your airline of choice might be) applies to far fewer than 1% of travelers in every frequent flier program, so that's what I was basing "extremely frequent fliers" on.

I had reached Gold on three different primarily-domestic airlines (admittedly there were more airlines back then) and was never able to have someone join me when I got upgraded to first class - which back then sometimes happened relatively frequently, I'm sure more often than it would today.
As with most things, YMMV. DH and I are both Delta platinum and very rarely get upgraded to FC. ATL is our home airport so everyone has Delta status. It's not uncommon to be 20 out of 60 on the upgrade list at takeoff.

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