Don’t Complain If You Won’t Complain.
Like most travelers, I’m fussy about where I sit. Of course I detest being in the dreaded middle seat, but I much prefer a window seat over sitting on the aisle. It could be a touch of claustrophobia, but views of the ground and of unusual cloud formations can be fascinating and often quite beautiful. And I will go to almost any lengths to avoid the middle section of seats … for instance, in a 2-3-2 configuration.
And so–this was back in December–after I had confirmed my flight back to Boston and the British Air web site asked if I would like to choose my seat for an additional £38, I didn’t hesitate. The aircraft is a Boeing 747 and the configuration in Economy Class is 3-4-3 … I shudder even thinking about spending eight hours in one of the middle seats in that middle section. So I popped for the £38, which is $50 in U.S. currency today and was no doubt more than that eight months ago. The best window seat available back then was 30A and I took it.
But just a week or so ago, I received a routine email from BA and noticed that I was no longer in Seat 30A. I am now assigned to Seat 41A. It’s still a window seat, but eleven rows farther back. I will grant you that it’s not that big a deal–if I had been stuck in 41F, an inside seat in the middle section–you can bet I would have been mightily upset. But–dammit!–what did I shell out £38 for? For being able to choose a seat that the airline was able to change for whatever reason? As a matter of principle, I’m going to politely complain when I check in, but we all know that I will be spending my eight hours aloft in Seat 41A.
Here’s the thing, though: We have to complain! We all do … every time something like this happens, because there are signs that the federal government is starting to notice and may even be serious about stepping in on behalf of us consumer/flyers.
For instance, the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, which is part of the Department of Transportation, is formally going to take a look at the frequent flyer programs run by all of the airlines. More and more travelers are complaining that the airlines keep changing the rules which, of course, means that the benefits of membership will, in some way, be more limited or more restrictive.
It’s a fundamental law of economics or capitalism–and probably both–that the airlines will continue to squeeze us until enough of us complain. So mark down this link: www.dot.gov/airconsumer and, if you have a gripe, gripe!
I always go for an aisle seat so I do not have to climb over people for the inevitable at my age. My flights to Europe are about 21 hours total over 2 flights. I generally look for one where the window is already taken so that, after I have chosen, the middle seat will be free. I keep looking up until a day or so before and change again if necessary. It usually works. However on Emirates and Air NZ international you do not pay to select a seat.