An article today posted on AOL spoke about the worse seat on an airplane. If you fly at all you know which one it is. The middle; however for some of us who are claustrophobic the window option is worse. The writer pointed out that it has become exceedingly difficult to avoid this often noisy, cramped and even dirty, airplane placement unless you’re willing to shell out extra bucks (which many are). It seems like airlines give us both the middle finger and seat according the writer, Benjamin Zhang who noted that Southwest, which does not assign seats, raised the price of an early-boarding pass to $15 from $12.50 last month. For those who do not pay up, it is a mad rush when online check-in opens 24 hours before the flight. Delta Air Lines’ Basic Economy fare, introduced last year, does not allow seat assignments to be made until after check-in — when higher-paying customers have had a chance to claim window and aisle seats. American Airlines and United Airlines plan to introduce similar fares this year.
Having paid a premium to upgrade to First Class, Economy-plus and all the other cabins that claim more leg room and better seating, it’s important to know that even when you pay for an upgrade the airline claims they reserve the right to change you seat. And it’s happened three times to me. When it did I complained so adamantly that they offered a full refund of the upgrade. However I was still stuck in the middle with one exception when I raised such a fuss about being claustrophobic, and how it would unravel me during a flight, they relented and found me an aisle seat.
Still thanks to the deregulation of airlines by the US Government on Oct. 24,1978 and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, the consumer is at their mercy. Airline inflight and customer service seems to keep declining with few exceptions. In addition to having seat assignments changed without your consent or knowledge sometimes (until you go on line to print you boarding pass and discover the change) sometimes the carrier even changes the departure time with no notice. This happened twice out of Hawaii. The flight was changed to one so much earlier we couldn’t possibly make it. Again urgent calls to customer care got us a more convenient flight without having to pay for ticket changes. While that was a good outcome, it took time from our last day in Maui and a lot of hassle.
Another couple of times, yes two times, we paid for First Class seats. After sitting down we were told there was no top cabin food brought on board because the pilot was in a hurry to leave the gate on time. We got a refund after much ado. The other time there was food but not enough and we were told because we weren’t full fare passengers we wouldn’t get to eat. But au contraire we did pay for front of the bus. Again we got compensated but after going through many representative. Then there was the case of the First Class seat that couldn’t recline due to a broken lever and it couldn’t be fixed. Got an air ticket credit for that one but no help from the onboard crew at all. Now this is the worse that could happen, other than a disaster of course. On a flight from Manaus to Miami to Los Angeles the airline claimed we weren’t ticketed even though we had paper copies and receipts. We finally made the run out of Brazil only to go up against a surly agent in Florida. She wouldn’t relent even with e-tickets in hand. After many calls to customer service she said we could board but without seat assignments. We got seated in the last row right at the toilets. Did I make a stink. We had paid for upgrades, too. This one didn’t work out well as we didn’t get compensation and well the fight went out of me.
Yup, deregulation of airlines and telephone companies (that’s another story) stinks.