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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Flying with young children can be tough, even under the best of circumstances. That’s why one father was stunned and outraged when he arrived at the airport for a flight with his 4-year-old daughter, only to find that the airline had assigned his child a seat 11 rows away from him.
Frank Strong — who blogs at The Sword and the Script — booked a flight with Delta Airlines from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Montgomery, Alabama, where he’d be dropping his daughter off for a stay with her grandmother late last month, according to Yahoo News.
When he went to book the flight on Delta’s website, he was asked to enter his daughter’s age, which he did. The trouble came when he went to pick their seats, he said.
“When I was given the option to select seats, there were no seats together,” he told Yahoo. “I couldn’t even pay them for us to sit together.”
So Strong opted to forgo seat assignments and deal with the situation when he arrived at the airport. After failing to secure seats together when he checked in for his flight online and at an airport kiosk, Strong approached the ticketing counter to resolve the issue, Yahoo reported.
“The gate agents exchanged knowing glances — they obviously had seen this before — and suggested I go to the gate,” he said.
For a mere 88 additional dollars, the airline was kind enough to reassign us in a row together. By additional dollars, I mean on top of the $1,200-plus I had already spent for the trip and not counting the additional $25 baggage fee (each way) for which carriers have become notorious.
–Frank Strong, father
Strong was told he could pay a fee to get seats together right then and there, or he could try his luck at the gate where agents may be able to fix the issue at no cost. He chose to pay the “ransom money,” but couldn’t believe it got to that point.
“For a mere 88 additional dollars, the airline was kind enough to reassign us in a row together,” Strong wrote on his blog. “By additional dollars, I mean on top of the $1,200-plus I had already spent for the trip and not counting the additional $25 baggage fee (each way) for which carriers have become notorious.”
Fueling his frustration — Strong quickly noticed upon boarding the plane that there were plenty of open seats together.
“No parent holds a higher responsibility — or more deeply visceral instinct — than keeping their child or children safe,” he wrote. “That’s hard to accomplish 11 rows away when the fasten seat belt sign is glowing.”
Delta representatives told Yahoo News they were looking into the ordeal, but so far, Strong hasn’t heard or received anything from the airline. Strong said he wasn’t interested in compensation — instead, he hoped airlines would re-examine their policies to ensure young children would never be separated from their accompanying adult on a flight.
“They knew my daughter’s age as soon as I started booking my ticket,” he told Yahoo. “I’ve got to believe the airline has the sophistication and technology to make (seating us together) work if they so choose. Why would you separate a parent and toddler?”
Airlines have been making headlines of late in relation to treatment of families. Most recently, an Oregon mother claimed she and her family were removed from a United Airlines flight last week when her autistic daughter became frustrated because she was hungry. The flight made an emergency landing in Salt Lake City, where the family was taken off the plane.
The woman plans to sue the airline, claiming discrimination.