Travel Troubleshooter: Why did I pay an extra $99 for a middle seat?

Dear Travel Troubleshooter: My husband, 3-month-old and I recently flew from San Francisco to Zurich with Swiss International Air Lines. Swiss charges for seat assignments. The airline will give a bassinet seat for free, but charges for a companion.

I paid $99 for my husband to sit next to us, but requested that we have the two end seats so that I could have a bit more privacy to breastfeed, and so that we didn’t have to continually step over strangers every time we needed to change the baby’s diaper.

The Swiss customer-service rep denied this, saying we could have only the two middle seats because the bassinet attached only to the middle seat.

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When we boarded, we found that not only was this untrue, but the bassinet could be affixed only to the end seats. So, not only we were squished in the middle, but we also had to set our baby in front of strangers who were as unhappy about the situation as we were.

I paid for two seat assignments. I paid for my husband to sit next to me, but didn’t exactly get to pick my own seat. Because we were not given our requested seats for this situation, I want a refund of the $99 fee we had to pay. Can you help?

Answer: Swiss shouldn’t have charged you anything for your seat assignments. This practice of charging extra for an assigned seat seems like a money grab, especially when you’re just trying to sit next to your 3-month-old.

But if you agreed to pay the fee, and Swiss agreed that you would sit in an aisle seat, then that’s where you should have been seated. Your husband ended up in a middle seat because of incorrect information given to you by a Swiss representative. I definitely think a refund is in order.

Here’s the problem: There’s no written record of the representative giving you the information about your bassinet. So it’s really your word against the word of a Swiss employee. And who do you think the airline is going to believe? That’s right, not you.

I was fascinated by your subsequent correspondence with Swiss.

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

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