Have you read the article about an Alberta couple who lost their seats on an Alaska Airlines flight from Vegas?...
Have you read the article about an Alberta couple who lost their seats on an Alaska Airlines flight from Vegas? If not, click on over and take a look! Dan Blais and Colleen Roberge traveled from Canada to Las Vegas to get married. They reported having a wonderful experience...until they arrived at the airport to return home.
For Dan Blais and Colleen Roberge, it was a horrible ending to a wonderful weekend. Last month, the St. Albert couple stood at a boarding gate in the Las Vegas airport. Their seats on the Alaska Airlines plane had been given away, their luggage — including supplies for their 8-month-old boy — was on its way to Seattle. Stuck with a baby and no easy way home, the newlyweds were forced to stay an extra night and buy new tickets for the following day. (Source)
That sounds awful, right? Well, keep reading. Apparently, they must have been running behind when they got to the airport because they made it to the check-in desk twenty minutes before the flight was scheduled to take off. Twenty minutes isn't much, particularly when the airline requires you to arrive forty minutes before takeoff. However, they made it. Unfortunately, their baby had a major diaper blowout. Moms, you know about those. Ugh. As I was reading, I was nodding my head in sympathy. In our house, we dealt with WAY more than our fair share -- as in, up to 15 (yes, fifteen) a day -- because our daughter had an intestinal parasite. We can all agree that diaper blowouts are not fun, right? Well, Mr. Blais explained to the gate agent at Alaska Air that his wife was heading to the bathroom to change their baby because of said diaper blowout. However, he reports that as soon as he turned his back, the agent gave away their seats to standby passengers. Okay, huge bummer. I get it. Really. That's a big, big bummer. To have all of your luggage travel ahead of you, to be stuck with nothing for the night in another city and to have to pay for new seats...well, that's an inconvenience and disappointment to say the least. Dan and Colleen were very unhappy with Alaska Air. They insisted the airline reimburse them $1,000 -- their total out-of-pocket cost that resulted from being bumped from the flight. In what I thought was a pretty considerate move, Alaska Airlines offered them two $400 vouchers. They declined. They even set up a blog -- Alaska Airlines Hates Families -- to rally their cause. Really, they created a blog called Alaska Air Hates Families, in addition to a Twitter account. Alaska Air hates kids?! Some people immediately understood their situation, and left comments like this:
For all of you who think that this situation could have been avoided if they arrived earlier to the gate - you are missing the point. The baby soiled himself moments before the family was about to board - they could have been there 3 hours before, and the situation still would have happened. Their arrival time to the boarding gate has no impact on the timing of their baby's bowel movements. The boarding agent was less than understanding, suffice to say. If Alaska Airlines wants to stand behind that kind of customer service, then they are not an airline I will choose to fly on.
Others were far less sympathetic:
If I were this airline, I would sue you. You and your family arrived AFTER the suggested time and then want to hold up an entire plane of people (who all followed the rules, unlike you) so that you can change your kid's diaper? How about recognizing that parents with kids should be there earlier than everyone else and should have done the necessary planning beforehand? Your sense of entitlement is both hilarious and a sad statement about where society is today. I would take the $400 travel vouchers they've offered you and be thankful that they aren't taking you to court for attempting to tarnish their brand because they weren't willing to bend to your every whim and desire.
And then there were balanced opinions:
Everyone who comments on this blog seems to be backing one side or the other. The fact is, there is plenty of blame on both sides. Dan's family should have been at the gate much earlier, but AA also provided poor service in this situation. AA has made a gesture that they didn't have to, to apologize for the confusion on their part, but it wasn't AA's fault that Dan's family wasn't at the gate 40+ minutes early. Often you can get away with showing up a little late when traveling, but you aren't entitled to it.
What do you think? I have to admit that I'm less than sympathetic to the family. I've flown with my children many, many times. In fact, during the first year that our son was with us, I think he took 30 different flights, many of those from one side of the country to the other. It made for some interesting times, that's for sure. Sometimes, my mom or my husband were with us. Others, it was just my baby and me. And remember those diaper blowouts we had with our daughter that I mentioned earlier? I distinctly remember getting on a plane somewhere -- Houston, maybe? -- covered in the contents. Because we had to make the plane. What I'm saying is that while it's certainly appreciated when others accommodate or offer some extra help to those of us with kids, I never expect it. I certainly wouldn't ever expect a plane to be held up or standby seats not assigned because of something that occurred with one of my children. Before I was a mom, I was more than helpful to others who had children when I was able to be helpful. I felt that making efforts to accommodate parents with kids was certainly fine when it didn't significantly impact anyone else, but I never understood the sense of entitlement that sometimes accompanies parenthood. And now that I have kids? I feel the exact same way. Last week, I shared a few of my tips for traveling with a baby. My first tip was to rely on the kindness of strangers. I truly believe that. But I also believe there are limits to "kindness." I also have to note that airlines in the U.S. are nothing like many foreign ones, at least in my experience, and so perhaps this family had an expectation of better service. On domestic carriers in other countries, I've been served full meals with wine on two hour flights and had flight attendants trip over themselves to offer help with a crying baby. Here, I'm often lucky to get a bag of peanuts and "permission" to use the bathroom. Perhaps expectations played a part, as this couple was form Canada. Update: Alaska Air apparently contacted the family and agreed to reimburse them their out-of-pocket expenses -- $1,000 -- that they incurred as a result of missing the flight. How do you feel? Should the plane -- or at least the standby seats -- have been held until Colleen finished changing her baby's diaper? Or did the airline do the right thing by following policy? Please share your thoughts. Opposing ones are welcome and encouraged!

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