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To be so upset that a woman & her 2 children were given my (pre-booked online for an additional charge) plane seats?

(362 Posts)
lalalady1971 Sat 10-Aug-13 04:13:22

My DP and I flew to Cyprus last year on holidays. I'm a really nervous flyer but I get through it with mental preparation and don't want to let it stop me as we go away every year with my mum & dad, sister & husband and niece/nephew so it's a lovely get-together. (They live in different parts of the country so fly from different airports).

Part of my nerves-beating prep is pre-booking seats so I know exactly where we'll be sitting. I take a bit of time with this and look at the seats layout on the airline website, even down to the position of the window next to the seat so I'm definitely able to sit as calmly as possible without having to sit forward/twist my head backwards to see out (some seats have mainly plastic wall with the window further forward or back). This prob sounds very weird but part of it is extreme claustrophobia and being able to see outside/having a window really helps.

We paid a premium and pre-booked specific seats online, with extra legroom (my DP is 6ft 2) and a window seat with the window in the perfect position. All my mad requirements met so I felt ok! I also feel really self-conscious about my nervousness and sometimes retch a bit if I start feeling particularly anxious, so I like to be "cocooned" and safe in my window seat, hidden from others.

Soooo (sorry for such a long preamble!!), we get on the plane with our boarding passes and seat numbers (check-in acknowledged that we had booked our seats online already) only to find a woman and her 2 children (they looked about 8 & 10) sitting in our seats....with boarding cards with her original seat numbers scribbled out and our seats written on.

The stewardess approached and curtly asked what was the matter. I explained that there seemed to be some mistake as I'd pre-booked these seats. She went off to check and came back saying that someone had presumably gone through the seating plan at the gate and moved us as the woman had not pre-booked seats but needed to be seated with her children and the airline had to allow for that, so she had two new seat numbers for us.

I politely explained that I was a very nervous flyer and had specifically booked these seats (and paid extra for them!) so was there any way she could ask along the rows around if a different 3 people would mind moving as there were lots of gaps further down the plane but she said no, they'd updated the computer system at the gate so there was no way round it. (This made me feel even worse as I immediately thought, oh god it's so they know who's in which seat if the plane crashes and people die!!). At this point the woman in the seat stood up and said "Look, can't you see that I have children?! Obviously we need these seats more than you!", I was a bit taken-aback but said that I'd actually paid for these seats and if she was really that worried why didn't she pre-book seats so that they were guaranteed seats next to each other. She said she didn't need to, why on earth should she pay extra when she had children, the airline had to seat them together anyway. Followed by large amounts of smugness and smirking.

The stewardess then started tutting, saying the captain would go mad if we missed the take-off slot so we just needed to get into our seats. Oh god. Our new seats. It was my worst nightmare. She led us to the two seats halfway down the plane right next to the large exit doors. No window, just a door to my right with multiple emergency signs (and a bloody key in it with a massive red label on it saying "REMOVE AFTER TAKE-OFF" which stayed in for the whole flight!! (I was too mortified to ask anyone if it should really still be in the lock during the flight!). No seats in front of us so I felt massively exposed (and no seat-back for my crash position!!!), just a big gap then the next row. (Couldn't fault the leg-room though!). Plus a weird gap to my right as the two seats were slightly off-set so the window seat behind me had a bit of a half-gap in front of it. Through this gap, every 10 minutes or so, came a small child belonging to the couple sitting behind us. But the gap was a bit tight so the little girl was grabbing onto my arm-rest/arm to haul herself through, stepping on our feet as she came cackling past and grabbing my DP's knee to fling herself round the corner back into her parents' row. After an hour of this I turned to the couple and said "I'm sorry to be a pain but it's actually really annoying, d'you mind stopping her doing this" and they just looked at me (through the 20 mini wine bottles) and said it was keeping her quiet and it was a long flight for a little child so no, they couldn't.

Arghhh!! Dreadful experience. I felt really exposed and really anxious for the whole flight. Just horrible.

On a final note, the stewardess delivered my DP's pre-booked/paid meal to our original seats and the bloody woman took it and ate it!! My DP enquired as to where his meal was and, after 10 mins of him explaining what had happened with the seats (different stewardess!) she said she'd taken his meal to the original seat and it was accepted! She agreed to bring him a meal, but it had to be the vegetarian option now as they'd run out of standard meals...I was sorely tempted to say something to the woman at the baggage travelator thingy at the other end but by that point I was a bit of a wreck and couldn't be arsed with anything other than a large glass of wine!! (And she was still throwing the smug smirks my way so I didn't want to give her the satisfaction of showing I was bothered...)

I emailed Monarch when we got home and received a template email back saying, basically, tough shit, read the small print, we have the right to move you, this woman had children!! Yep, sorry about the meal but it's easily done as meals are allocated to seat numbers, not names and we have the right to change your meal, that's on the small print too.

We had a lovely holiday but we're off again in October to Turkey, again with Monarch (limited airline choice for date/time from our airport) and I'm utterly paranoid that this may happen again. Wonder if I should email Monarch in advance....or am I just over-reacting and being unreasonable??!

(And finaaaaally! I was pretty upset at that woman. I like to think if that were me I'd at least acknowledge the unfairness of the situation and say to the stewardess to be fair she has pre-booked and paid extra for these seats and is a nervous flyer, couldn't you just ask along the rows if anyone else would be happy to change seats? Or AIBU??!)

I'm a pretty confident, happy-go-lucky person in real life, it's just flying that turns me into a nervous wreck....maybe I just need to grow a pair!!

SpecialAgentCuntSnake Sat 10-Aug-13 04:22:22

Nope I'm a nervous flier too.

She sounds like an absolute cunt. Lord help her children with a mother like that!

Justforlaughs Sat 10-Aug-13 04:25:27

OMG, I feel SO sorry for you. I am also a nervous flyer (nowhere near as bad as you) and would have freaked out at the seats that you were given. It is totally out of order that you were moved to accommodate some entitled woman just because she had children, of that age (more understandable if they had been 2 and 3). Even more out of order that she ATE your pre-ordered meal. I genuinely am shock at this and really hope that she is reading this! I'm sorry to hear that you are flying with the same company again soon, as my advice would otherwise have been to avoid them at all costs and to write to the paper with your story. Give them as much bad press as you can. ((((hugs))))

runawaysimba Sat 10-Aug-13 04:27:22

That really does sound awful, you poor thing. Does it really say in their fine print that paying for your choice of seats doesn't guarantee you'll get them? Outrageous.

Chottie Sat 10-Aug-13 04:28:00

Have you ever thought about going on a fear of flying course?

As Monarch say they have the right to change seats etc, there is no guarantee that something similar would not happen again. But if you were able to overcome some of your fears, you could find it easier to accept the situation.

runawaysimba Sat 10-Aug-13 04:35:42

I just read their T&Cs, they really do give themselves every opportunity to wiggle out of giving you your seat selection. Looks like they moved you to the exit row so you'd have legroom so they wouldn't have to refund you. I'm travelling with my DD (on a different airline) soon, and have paid the seat selection premium despite the fact that she's 2.5 and you'd think they wouldn't sit us apart anyway, precisely so I don't end up being the horrible woman in your scenario.
I agree with Chottie though, if you're likely to fly regularly, a fear of flying course might help. There are some good books available too, that explain various things like what different noises mean, what turbulence actually is and so on.

Justforlaughs Sat 10-Aug-13 04:36:46

We reserve the right to move any passengers our cabin crew feels are unsuitable for exit row seats. that does not appear to be the case here, unless there is more small print somewhere else I would take it further! and I've read all I can on their website, without going so far as to book a flight! grin
I see that their policy is in fact, that all children under the age of 16 must be seated next to an adult.

georgie22 Sat 10-Aug-13 04:41:39

That's horrendous OP. I'm not a nervous flier but I would have been mightily pissed off with that situation. Some people are so entitled - if I had been the woman (although we always pre book seats)I would have had to move as I hate confrontation.
Can't believe that she ate your pre-booked meal too!
I would be taking things further with Monarch to be honest as I would want reassurance for my next flight.

lalalady1971 Sat 10-Aug-13 04:51:29

Ah, thanks guys, glad to hear I'm not just an over-reacting nightmare as the nerves can influence common-sense a bit!

She was a right cow to be fair so I suppose the situation would have been a bit less stressful if I hadn't then had to sit there for 4 hours seething...wish I'd nipped to the loo and caught her eating the meal!!

The mad circuiting child didn't really help either!

They can change seats but I think they said it has to be an alternative premium seat, which these were as people pay extra for the legroom...

I have looked into the Fear of Flying course...but you have to go on a plane!! I know, I know, that's the whole point. I'm ok, have developed my own coping skills so I can get through it, things like visualising all the steps from checking-in to boarding etc etc every night the week before which really helps. Part of me thinks well fuck it, I coped with that dreadful experience so I can get through anything they throw at me now!! Will need to adapt my visualisation in October to incorporate a self-righteous cunt taking my lovely safe seat! grin

NapaCab Sat 10-Aug-13 05:05:24

DId you ask to get the money you paid for pre-booked seats refunded? They should definitely refund you the cost at least.

Also can you book a different airline next time you fly? You should not give them your business again if they treated you badly.

Flying is hell these days. Passengers are rude bastards, staff couldn't care less, everyone's stressed about security and the planes and airways are getting more and more crowded. I hate it too - but insanely am planning a longhaul visit to family with our toddler next month. I am DREADING it but hoping I can just grit my teeth and get through it. And don't worry, OP, I will be pre-booking my seats to make sure we are seated with DS!

DayOldCheesecake Sat 10-Aug-13 05:15:28

YANBU. Sounds typical of the horrible entitled cunt who posts here tbh. grin

Mutley77 Sat 10-Aug-13 05:16:39

I would follow up on your complaint tbh, that is NOT ok - both the seat change and the meal being messed up. I would address it to the chief exec and play on the fact you are clearly a regular user of their airline (and will not be any longer should they not sort this out).

Roshbegosh Sat 10-Aug-13 05:25:11

Tell them it's all over MN that they treat people with this rudeness. I do get irritated with people travelling with children knowing they can avoid paying for allocated seats and can turn up as late as they like with masses of hand luggage knowing the rest of us will just be shifted to suit them. Monarch need to address this.

birdmomma Sat 10-Aug-13 05:30:49

I hate flying. Not because I am nervous, but because from the minute you step on a plane, you lose all control over your life and environment. You are at the mercy of all fellow passengers (and they are always disgusting, loud, farting bastards who spend their whole time with their seats reclined) and their evil children, and the blank faced, inwardly seething cabin crew. And trying to get the food that you actually ordered is a nightmare.

lalalady1971 Sat 10-Aug-13 05:46:03

Napa, they said I wasn't entitled to any refund as the alternative seats were of equal premium value angry (Not for me they weren't!).

Sadly using them again as we were a bit limited with airlines, end of October timings and Easyjet fares were much more expensive...hope your long-haul goes ok!

I think I will email them though, maybe if I explain I'm a nervous flyer and describe the experience I had they'll at least put a note on and maybe be less likely to swap our seats! And I shall raise the unhelpful attitude of the stewardess who, quite frankly, couldn't have been less interested in how I felt. I know they're all stressed and under pressure but they're on the frontline of customer service FFS and it's not like we haven't paid for the pleasure!

kickassangel Sat 10-Aug-13 05:48:39

Sorry, but YABU. Whether the mum was smirking or not, they DO have to out kids with a parent, so if there is no other way to have them together then someone else gets bumped. And people usually get charged a lot extra for the seats you ended up with.

The circling kid was not on, as a parent I would never have allowed dd to do that even once, let alone got to the stage of being asked to stop.

Planes are public transport. Youhave no more right to certain seats than anyone else, and airlines have to stick to safety rules, no matter how nervous you are. Either you can deal with how it is,, or you can't fly. There are loads of nervous passengers who either suck it up or stop flying. If it's so bad, can't your family meet up in the UK or somewhere in France you could drive to?

I was in a car accident once and it gave me PTSD (as well as permanent injury). I know it sounds stupid, but I had an awful time being in a car for years after, but I just had to get over it.

It is horrible to be in that state of nerves, but you can't dictate the conditions of travel to that extent unless you buy your own plane. I really think you need to look at some other solutions, e.g. Not flying, fear of flying course or meds from the doctor.

Roshbegosh Sat 10-Aug-13 05:49:23

I agree whole heartedly about the passengers and wonder what the world must think of the English these days but I fly Easyjet several times a year and every single time the crew have been lovely and seem to be happy in their work. It helps a lot.

Roshbegosh Sat 10-Aug-13 05:51:24

That's burdmomma I'm agreeing with.

SofiaAmes Sat 10-Aug-13 05:53:13

kickass...you have missed the point that the op paid extra for specific seats and the parent with the kids did not feel sitting with her children was important enough to pay extra for that. I would challenge the extra charge with the credit card company as you paid extra for a service you did not get.

exoticfruits Sat 10-Aug-13 05:55:35

You are not over reacting. I would send them your first post on here and let them know again why it wasn't OK. I think they are covered by the small print, but you can at least make sure they really understand the problem. It should point out on here why parents with children need to book their seats.

Justforlaughs Sat 10-Aug-13 05:55:39

kissass I think the point is that people do pay a lot of money for the seats that the OP had booked - she did pay for them but this other lady didn't and got them anyway. There is nothing to say that children and their parents must be sat together in the premium seats what was wrong with the bog standard ones that run the whole length of the plane?

lalalady1971 Sat 10-Aug-13 05:57:19

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

exoticfruits Sat 10-Aug-13 05:58:06

It also shows that airlines should stop charging for seat selection- they have to sit children with parents so why not allocate the seats in the first place?

SanityClause Sat 10-Aug-13 06:06:44

I thought that Those seats by the emergency doors are not deemed to be suitable for nervouse flyers. I have seen someone turned down for them because she admitted to being a nervous flyer, even after she tried to back track.

So, the airline shouldn't have put you there, at all.

SanityClause Sat 10-Aug-13 06:07:20

Nervouse? Nervous

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