I’ve done some traveling in the past few weeks, mostly on Delta. I book my flights online and always pick an aisle seat, if one is available.
But I’ve noticed that when I hand in my boarding pass, the airline almost aways assigns me to a different seat, often in the back of the plane in a cramped center seat.
Because I ride economy class, I guess they feel they can push me around. It happened again on my return to Sarasota this past weekend.
Is it fair for airlines to offer you a choice and then switch you at the last minute? True, other passengers may have paid more for their tickets. But they had a choice of seats, too, and I doubt they were bumped to the back of the plane.
As an economy passenger, I’m always in the last group to board. Always awkward to hear the call for First Class, Premium Select, Delta One and Comfort+ until they finally get to me.
Whoever chose Comfort+ as a brand name? Several years ago, I wrote about Delta’s then “Economy Comfort” designation for these seats that offer four inches more legroom.
The implication is the same with the new appellation: economy passengers who walk past may be inclined to think, “Am I sitting in Uncomfortable+ seats?”
It sends the wrong signal to the passengers in regular economy that they are headed to a seat for a cramped and uncomfortable ride. Passengers have an expectation of comfort, without having to pay extra for it.
A Bumpy Ride
Airline brands have taken a hit in the past few months with unfortunate incidents like security guards called by United Airlines dragging a passenger off a plane and an American Airlines flight attendant who whacked a mother with her baby’s stroller and then ejected the mother and her child from the plane.
Of course, the airlines apologized. But the standards of customer service have declined, in my view, with consolidation in the airline industry. The airlines might think, what choice do you have, especially on a long trip? But I can see the fallout in my own family.
A nephew who drove from Williamsburg, VA to Florida rather than endure the experience of a crowded airport, delayed flights (the norm) and poor customer service. A niece and her husband who drove from Maine to North Carolina.
There are other options. I can take Amtrak if I’m traveling the Boston-Washington, DC corridor. And I’ve taken a bus more than once. I like the $35 round trip fare.
Brands that don’t honor their promises soon learn that their customers have other options. There are always other options.