UK minister says airlines used "exploitative algorithms" to split up families unless they paid extra

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I suspect something similar is going on in the US. On almost every flight (mostly Delta, but sometimes American) I’ve been on there has been a parent given a separate seat assignment from a very small child, that usually ends up with a business traveler having to give up a prime seat so that the two can be seated together.

The airline gets to charge the business traveler the small seat upgrade fee for longer legroom or bulkhead and still gets to accommodate the parent and child sitting together as the business traveler almost always does the decent thing and surrenders their seat so the parent and child can sit together.

The airline can have their cake (seat upgrade fee) and eat it too. Never have I seen the business traveler get an upgrade to first or business class out of it. (and I’ve been that guy a few times)


Late Stage Capitalism at its finest.


When I didn’t pay extra for an upgraded seat on a fully booked American flight, they would not assign me a seat, even at the gate. I had to wait until everyone else boarded, then they finally put me in the last available seat - the upgraded one.


Or they could just damn well allocate them adjacent seats to start with, and not piss off the business traveller. How about that for an idea, Mr/Ms Airline exec? Customer satisfaction from the off, all round.

But if they can screw a few dollars out someone and forego satisfaction/reputation …

More like final stage capitalism.


Business travelers don’t pay for those upgrades.

Have you flown recently? Airlines aren’t giving away free upgrades and seat assignments, except to the highest tier frequent flyers. If you only have to travel a half dozen times a year, you aren’t getting anything. Particularly if the company you work for requires lowest cost fare for Domestic travel. I’ve paid for the upgraded legroom seats many times since my former employer wouldn’t. I’m 6’4".


Ryan Air = sh*t airline.


Even United gives away the extra-legroom seats to the lowest tier of frequent flier status (though if you want to reserve one before checkin, that’s reserved for the second [of four/five tiers]). Most frequent business travelers would be at least that lowest tier.

Things may well be different in the UK, though.

Okay, but if I have to pay extra in the future to get separated from my family members thanks to these do-gooders, I’m going to be pissed.


Travelling for business with Ryanair, the person who booked the flight didn’t tell me you cannot check in at the airport. It must be done online.
That cost my employer £55 - to check me in “manually”


Passengers first started noticing they were being split up from their party if they didn’t pay more for allocated seating in June 2017, with Ryanair most commonly associated with the practice.

Before I read the article I knew that Ryanair would be involved. Shitty behaviour seems to be their USP.


Sooo… pay for assigned seating if your preference is to sit together.

Yup. If you’re on the cheapest ticket expect to be assigned the least desirable seats–and those are generally middle seats and thus not next to each other. If scattered middles in the back of the plane aren’t acceptable then pay.

Sure, except the claim here is that certain airlines specifically assign people seats that are far apart as an incentive to have them pay for assigned seating. So, even though the airline could easily assign families/travelling partners adjacent (cheap) seats, they avoid that.

There’s not a lot of evidence in the article for it or anything. The airlines say it’s ‘random’, but some airlines seem to be more random than others.

FWIW, I haven’t found the actual experience of flying ryanair to be that bad, but I prefer to fly easyjet:


As you say, no evidence. The leftover seats are rarely adjacent other than those opened by upgrades, thus I would expect to be separated on leftover seats.

Parents need to be seated by their kids, thus they need to pay for the assigned seating. Don’t go with basic economy and try to guilt people to switch! I have a lot of sympathy for those who end up scattered due to ending up on a different flight, I have none for those who feel they are entitled to sit with their companions without paying.

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I travel enough for work that I am a top tier frequent flyer, but I never choose an upgraded seat with extra legroom as I am 5"2’ tall. It would be wasted on me.

EDIT: I actually mean 5’2" tall.


Whence this weird idea that aircraft are social spaces? They could be, but they’re bloody well not - not a single one of them on this planet - and you want to spend as little time on 'em as possible.

[quote=“LorenPechtel, post:16, topic:133636”] I
have none for those who feel they are entitled to sit with their companions without paying.

Is it lonely up on that horse oh so high?


I feel sorry for anyone who is a bootlicker to Michael O’Leary. You know that he will have waded though a sewer before they meet up.