Most airlines guarantee that families will sit together, but reality does not reflect this claim. Some parents pay extra to ensure they will sit next to their children, and even that may not be enough.
Flying with kids is no easy feat. Especially on long flights where children and babies may become anxious or irritable, it is definitely not a cakewalk for parents to manage.
Moms and dads are already juggling extra luggage and baby items like strollers, and trying to execute a diaper change in the smallest of bathrooms. At the very least, parents need to be seated next to their children.
It seems like basic logic, but it is not always happening, not even when parents take extra precautions to ensure that it does.
Air Canada has separated families on its flights or required that they pay $100 to reserve adjacent seats with extra leg room. In fact, some parents have ended up seated far from their toddlers, even after they paid ahead especially to ensure this.
This is exactly what happened to Emily Jackson of Toronto. The mom of two frequently flies to Vancouver on Air Canada, to see extended family. She regularly pays $100 plus tax to reserve four adjacent seats with extra legroom for her family.
In the first place, it is pretty ridiculous that she needs to pay to keep her kids next to her husband and her. They are only two and four years old. But it gets worse.
Air Canada swapped planes at the last minute on one of their flights. That put the children up front with extra legroom but moved the parents to the back of the plane.
When Jackson called, the airline was unable to make any changes. She asked how a two-year-old was supposed to manage without their caregiver and they could not answer.
The Jacksons probably rearranged so that each parent sat next to one child, but that is not the point. It could have worked out differently and the airline would not have an answer.
Canada has new guidelines coming out that will require airlines to accommodate. They are:
- Under the age of 5: In a seat beside the parent, guardian or tutor.
- Aged 5 to 11: In the same row and separated by no more than one seat.
- Aged 12 or 13: Separated by no more than a row.