Parents are finding out that their children aren't flying next to them on Air Canada flights, and they're upset.
In a recent Twitter thread, parents vented about their frustrations with the Canadian flight company. Apparently, this is an issue that's been going on for some time, as the company allows people to pre-book seats at an extra cost. This means, oftentimes, parents who don't shell out the extra money to ensure their children sit with them are left sitting elsewhere. Obviously, this causes a lot of anxiety and stress as it's almost impossible to keep an eye on someone sitting several rows back.
Family separation in economy class is @AirCanada's new defacto position. My 5 y-o isn't sitting w her dad on a flight to Toronto tomorrow AM, his calls to customer service be damned. And given how frequently minors & girls are violated/abused when flying alone, I am livid. https://t.co/xhjoH3jXO4— Neda Maghbouleh (@nedasoc) June 9, 2019
It's an issue the Canadian government is aware of as well. In 2015, transport minister Lisa Raitt, urged airlines to prevent this practice wherever possible and said"logic should prevail" to keep children seated with their parents. It seems her words haven't done much to change the issue, however, as some angry Tweeters noted as early as June 9, 2019, airlines were still not booking families together.
Some users were quick to defend Air Canada, however. One user noted that she suffers from claustrophobia, and she needs a window seat to prevent her from feeling anxious. Since this is a situation that could leave her feeling unsettled most of the flight, she pays extra to ensure she gets her desired seat.
Hopefully, the families separated during flights won't have a need to worry too much, but it's clear that something should be done to make the system safer for children. There is a real danger to unaccompanied children too. According to the Washington Post, there were a number of incidents in 2016 that put airlines on notice for their inability to keep unaccompanied children safe. In one situation, a 13-year-old was abused on an American Airline flight, but thanks to a flight attendant's watchful eye, the culprit was arrested. In another situation, JetBlue Airways confused a pair of five-year-olds, causing one to be sent on the wrong flight.
This actually creates a pretty tricky situation for Air Canada, but one they should take more seriously. With customers paying to be seated somewhere particular in advance, it becomes a balancing act to ensure familes are seated together. Perhaps some kind of priority seating for tickets bought in bulk could help, but booking flights are a complex ordeal.