If the airline seats you and your child apart, who should have to move?

Are you going to have to ask someone to switch seats with you? Are they obligated to?

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There’s going to be turbulence. You knew that the second you booked the airline tickets.

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You tried to check in and select your seats early, but you weren’t fast enough (you were probably already in bed). Or your travel is last minute, or your flight was bumped and you’ve been reassigned. Now, you and your child aren’t seated together, and while your first thought is “Woot!” your stomach soon drops because there will be unhappy passengers.

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The loud minority of people who think kids shouldn’t be on airplanes has you tied in knots, even if your child is old enough and mature enough to fly without you. Are you going to have to ask someone to switch with you? Are they obligated to?

The Canadian Transportation Agency has guidelines with clear steps to take to ensure children under 14 are seated with or near their caregivers.

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Airlines are required as soon as they know a child is flying to try to seat them near their caregiver. If pre-selection isn’t possible, they must endeavour to assign the seats at check-in or at the boarding gate. They are not allowed to charge an extra fee to make these arrangements, unless the travellers choose higher-priced seats.

If that doesn’t work, they have to ask for volunteers to switch. It might help their karma bank, but other passengers don’t have to give up their seats. There are plenty of reasons they might say no: they have long legs and choose their seat based on comfort; they have ordered a special meal that is linked with their seat number; they are claustrophobic; they have health considerations you don’t know about. They might have paid for that particular seat, or the trade is for a seat that isn’t as good.

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And yet more reasons, like they’re stubborn or think you should have been up at midnight to select your seats or “you should just pay for it,” which is about the most privileged thing they could say. That’s why it’s best to have the flight staff ask for volunteers — if you don’t agree with the other traveller’s decision, you don’t want to get into a battle or, worse, start crying in front of them.

If no one will budge, you have the option to take the seats you were assigned and sit away from your child, or not take the flight. If the last option is the best, the transportation agency recommends that the airline book the family on another flight at no extra charge or refund them for the flight.

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Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/637610899/z5e5-SWlS8eBfFCg?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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