Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Airline seat assignments

Traveling as a family can be challenging, but even more so if you all arrive at the airport, survive the check in procedure and the bag search, only to find out you are not all seated together. Don't assume because you are flying as a family that you will be all seated near each other.

If you are buying your tickets from a travel agent make sure they do your seat assignments for you. If you purchase your tickets on-line or directly from the airport and they do not do the assignments at the time of buying the tickets, make sure you log into the airline website and do your seat assignments well in advance.

At the website SeatGuru you can find out the details about the aircraft you are flying on, including the seat width, legroom, and so forth. This site also contains contact information for the airlines.

According to the book Jet With Kids, by Anya Clowers, "There are only a certain number of seats that reservation and travel agents are able to book. The rest are blocked out for airport assignment on the day of departure or for online check-in 24 hours prior to the flight. However, unless you are booking at the last minute, it is usually possible for you to get something reserved, and seat selection can make a huge difference in your flight."

One myth is that if you are traveling with a small child the bulkhead seats are the best place to sit. This is not true. According the Clowers, "The added legroom gives a child the feeling of open space and the illusion that they can roam around. If you take the middle seat of another row and your child is in the window seat next to you, this area creates a "box" for your child to play in. They can play with the window shade, on the tray table, look out the window, and generally feel more secure since it is somewhat of a private area."

Plus all of your luggage will be in the overhead compartment as there is no storage under the seat. The tray tables are located in the armrest and can easily pinch fingers. So you may wish to reconsider this seating area.

I used the bulkhead seat once when traveling with my son and it really did not work out as he ended up out of his seat and playing on the floor, eventually falling asleep on the floor, which was not a very safe alternative when I look back on the situation. Being in tighter quarters and kept buckled into a seat is really the safest place for any child.

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