Posted by: pizzainmotion | May 23, 2012

Updates on Travel For Families

Mommy Points has a couple of great pieces on her blog about family travel.

The first is about families trying to get seats on a flight together.  I think she makes some good points in the post, especially about trying to get some level of elite status with an airline.  For me, this is one of the reasons I’m pursuing lifetime status with multiple programs.  I want to be able to retain these benefits in the future.

The second most important thing here is to book early if seating together is a critical issue for you.  Another point to keep in mind though is that airlines don’t actually guarantee your seating assignment in most cases, especially when you’re not paying them more money for a specific seat.  So, it’s important to keep an eye on your reservations periodically to make sure your seating assignments didn’t disappear.

It is interesting that airlines are maximizing revenue in so many different areas in spite of the possible negative impact on customers that can’t afford to buy seats together.  UA has been moving to a program that rewards higher revenue customers as opposed to the volume of flights, so maybe they aren’t focusing at all on the person buying those ultra-low cost fares.  As Gary from View From The Wing likes to say, lots of those passengers are buying “at the margin”, taking seats that are unlikely to be sold, albeit at lower prices, but without much opportunity costs for the airline.  So, at some point, driving these people away really does drive away profit.

As referenced in MommyPoints’ post, an article by Scott Mayerowitz was the inspiration for this post and well worth reading.

MommyPoints also has some info that seems to indicate United is no longer allowing pre-boarding for families with small children (unless you have status that would grant you that benefit).

I keep thinking I should be surprised by the business strategies being deployed by United.  And yet, they keep finding ways to lower the bar.  Shouldn’t be long before there’s a fee to have a wheelchair down the jet bridge.

I’m curious to hear what people think, both families and business travelers alike.  Does it really seem like a better idea NOT to pre-board families with small children?


Responses

  1. Amen, brother! Not sure who wins when families with young children don’t get a chance to get on and get settled.

    • I think you’re sure. It’s nobody.

  2. FWIW pre-boarding with an infant has been hit or miss on both Delta and American this year for me. On the first leg of an American trip today the gate agent actually called our name and had us board a good 5 minutes before anyone else. On the second leg they did nothing, even though we were standing almost right in front of the counter. It was not that big of a deal since I have platinum status now, but the difference was striking. Delta has been the same way, maybe worse with pre-boarding.

    It bothers my wife more than me because she is always in more of a hurry to get out of the aisle than I am. I don’t let the fact that I am blocking the aisle bother me, it takes a few moments to get everything put away.

    • I’ve generally found pre-boarding for kids to be more inconsistent as well. We had a Delta trip earlier in the year. On all 4 legs I had to to make a point to go to the counter and ask, then hang right out in the boarding lane. It’s not that they didn’t want to allow it, but they weren’t focused on it.
      I’m 1K with United and EXP with AA, so no boarding issues there.


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