I shared how excited we were to take Baby Weekly Flyer on the first long flight. Overall the flight ended up going well, but it wasn’t without excitement or frustration. I’ll share the details of how our three economy comfort seats were separated and how we ended up getting reunited for our 3.5 hour flight down to St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
I had booked three economy comfort seats at the 42,500 award level about 10 months prior to departure. The reservation was initially in one PNR. I had planned to use the free one-way on the return different than Mrs and Baby so I recall asking Delta to split the PNRs. This would prove to be my biggest mistake. The separated PNRs would later cause our seats to get separated when there was a change to the flight. Correcting the seat assignment issue would end up being a complex game of seat chess with the Delta phone elite line, Delta Assist and finally the Judge Elihu Smails (from Caddyshack) look-a-like in seat 21 D.
Downgraded – Seats Are Changed From Economy Comfort
I logged into my account the night before the flight and noticed that my seat was no longer next to the economy comfort seats 21 E and F that I had confirmed Mrs Weekly Flyer and Baby Weekly Flyer to be in just 2 days prior. I had monitored our reservations for this very issue. Since our reservations had been split (separate PNRs) I had contacted Delta reps and supervisors on numerous occasions to get them merged back, but each time I was met with the same answer that it was a technical reason why the reservations couldn’t be merged back. So I constantly checked back on the reservation, even confirming our seats 2 days prior to departure. When I realized my seat was changed, I did not check in since that would lock my seat in the reservation and cause all types of more work to get the check in un-done.
Instead, I logged into Mrs Weekly Flyer and Baby Weekly Flyer’s PNR to check their seats. Sure enough, their seats were changed as well, but to non-economy comfort seats. I did take comfort in seeing 6 economy comfort exit row seats available, non of which Baby Weekly Flyer could sit in.
For those of you with small infants, you know that sitting in a row together is very helpful. First, a baby in a car seat must sit in a window seat due to safety reasons, so the current seats wouldn’t work. In addition, not having a row would mean that the infant couldn’t nurse on take off which is a great tactic to help calm the baby. So I was eager to get us back into our originally booked seats or some seating version where we are at least able to switch easy with another economy passenger to sit three together.
What Caused The Issue
The issue that caused the seat switch was a last minute (day before departure) equipment change. The type of 757 plane was switched out for an unknown reason. There was a major rain storm in Atlanta the night before departure and it was the holiday season, so no one knows for sure. Since our reservations were now split Delta automatically bumped Mrs and Baby Weekly Flyer back to regular coach due to lack of status and being on an award ticket. First, I called the Delta Platinum line. But they said the airport had control over the seats and they could not move us into the economy comfort seats in the exit row. Then I got in touch with Delta Assist, where I’ve had great experience in the past. But they too, couldn’t move our seats together at first. Until I made my first move.
Complex Chess Match And Move To Check
My next move was complex, and if we could pull it off, would mean we’d all be back in economy comfort, just not together. This move would still require a subsequent check mate move at the airport to get us into the same row of economy comfort. So I got to work and called the Platinum line again and tweeted my idea to Delta Assist. I asked Delta Assist to move my seat away from 22 D, a non-exit row economy comfort seat and I would move up to 20 F, an exit row economy comfort seat thereby freeing up a non-exit row economy comfort seat for Baby Weekly Flyer.
The seat switch was completed with me in seat 20 F.
Mrs Weekly Flyer was moved to seat 20 E (next to me), an exit row economy comfort seat. Baby Weekly Flyer was moved to seat 22 D, a non-exit economy comfort seat.
By giving up my economy comfort non-exit row seat, this allowed us to meet the goal of getting us all back in economy comfort without having to check in at the gate. But the next move would prove complex. We still had to get Baby Weekly Flyer (<1 year old) to sit next to one of us. But with all of us now in economy comfort, the next move should have been written in stone. Simply switch another economy comfort passenger(s) with us, so we can all sit together. But on the way to the airport, two of our original seats, 21 E and F opened up and I put Mrs Weekly Flyer and Baby Weekly Flyer into those seats.
Check Mate Or So I Thought
I thought this was check mate. We would go into the plane as seats 20 F, 21 E and 21 F. I mean, who wouldn’t want the economy comfort seat with some of the best legroom on the entire plane? Only one person, the Judge Elihu Smails (all honor to his name) look-a-like in seat 21 D.
At the Gate, Delta did all they could to try and accommodate us back together. The gate agent paged Judge Smails (passenger 21 D) several times, but he never showed up. There were 3 other open economy comfort seats that they could move the Judge to. One was in the row behind him in the middle seat, and two were in the exit row, one aisle and one window, my seat. So he could have moved to an aisle or window seat just one row in front of him. Since he wouldn’t return the page, my next move would have to come on the plane. Once onboard, I quickly attached Baby Weekly Flyer’s seat into the window seat 21 F, got Mrs Weekly Flyer settled and then went to the head purser. I politely explained the situation, and very nicely asked for any assistance with requesting the gentleman in 21D relocate to another economy comfort seat. The Delta flight attendant couldn’t have been nicer or more reassuring.
Flight Attendant: It will all work out, I’ll help anyway I can
And she did just that.
Enter Judge Smails. He looked almost exactly like the Caddyshack character and had that same smirk about his face. I approached him and politely asked:
Mr Weekly Flyer: Excuse me Judge. My wife and infant child are seated next to you. I have an open economy comfort seat just one row ahead of you, is there anything I can do to convince you to switch seats and let me sit next to my infant and wife?
Judge Smails: [Looks to wife, then looks back] Yeah, we’ll have to see how this works out in a bit.
At this point, I wanted to tell him what a tremendous slouch he was for not taking an identical seat one row ahead and keeping a family from sitting next to each other, but good judgement overcame my initial thought and I resisted. Instead, I killed him with kindness and talked about the aircraft switch impact on everyone. He also had seats next to his wife that were changed and had booked several months ago as well. So I understood his situation but I still didn’t understand why he would want to sit next to an infant and a mother when the seat in front of his wife was open. Mrs Weekly Flyer and I used to always split our seats to the best ones available. An economy comfort exit row seat is so much better than a regular economy comfort seat next to an infant baby. There must have been more behind his reason to not want to switch seats. At this point we were about to leave the gate and the flight attendant got onto the loud speaker to really kill the Judge softly. She explained in front of everyone over the loud speaker:
Flight Attendant:We are very sorry for the equipment change and realize that many seats have been moved around. The only thing we can ask is that you consider the open seats and feel free to move around within your seating section.
Pretty much everyone in the economy comfort section of the plane was giving this guy the evil eye. But he just stuck his head in a Seduko puzzle while his wife put on standard iPhone ear plugs. If they weren’t going to pay attention to each other, why sit next to each other? They later would wish they had won our noise canceling headset giveaway.
Mr Smails didn’t budge. So I gave it one last shot by asking:
Mr Weekly Flyer: Sir Judge, is there anything I can do to convince you to switch into another economy comfort seat? It would mean a lot to my family and I.
Judge Smails: [Looks to his wife]
Wife Judge Smails: I want you right here.
So the Judge had a heart after all! It wasn’t him that was preventing the seat switch. He apologized and said he’d see what he can do once up in the air. I thought, “you should man up” this is your call, don’t be surprised if Baby Weekly Flyer goes the nuclear option. The nuclear option refers to an option where a baby cries making the entire cabin uncomfortable and no one wins. And the nuclear option is just what Baby Weekly Flyer did. Just as the plane was taking off, baby began to cry loudly in the car seat and then in Mrs Weekly Flyer’s arms. I couldn’t take the baby in my arms either because I was in an exit row.
After about 10 minutes of this the Judge finally gave in and looked at Mrs Judge to say:
Judge Smails: I can’t take much more of this
Soon after, he quickly got up and moved to seat 20 C, the economy comfort exit row directly in front of Mrs Judge. I took the high road and walked over to shake his hand and thank him profusely. Once the drink service came around, I bought him a bottle of red wine and presented it to him like it was a bottle of 1999 Dom Perignon and he was in a First Class Suite onboard a Singapore A380. Finally the Weekly Flyers were reunited and Baby Weekly Flyer was able to rest comfortably next to both Mom and Dad. We settled Baby Weekly Flyer down and then put the car seat into lie-flat mode.
Baby Weekly Flyer began to rest comfortably and fell asleep for about 2 hours. After baby woke up, we got our first experience with the inflight changing table. It isn’t glamorous traveling with kids. Something to note. Not every lavatory has a changing table so make sure and check them out before the flight or ask the flight attendant.
A last minute change to the Delta equipment operating our flight caused our 3 economy comfort seats to be moved to 2 coach seats and 1 economy comfort seat. Due to a series of complex chess moves I was able to get us all back into economy comfort for our Baby Weekly Flyer’s first long flight with Delta.
The lesson I learned here is to never split a family PNR and be patient if seat changes occur because everyone can be effected. If people have a big heart or realize it’s in their best interest, they’ll eventually switch seats to allow a family to sit next to each other. The flight attendant was right, it all worked out in the end. Baby Weekly Flyer’s first long flight wasn’t perfect, but Delta did everything they could to make our experience more enjoyable and we rolled with the punches as they were thrown. How did your baby’s first flight work out? Was it as smooth as ours or worse? Wonder what other issues we could have experienced.