I posted ten days ago about my experience of bmibaby’s strange approach of splitting up families and allocating children seats separate from their accompanying adults.
As a family, we had the experience on the way across from Belfast International to Birmingham of two adults being automatically allocated (through online check-in) seats D and E seats in one row, while Littl’un was given the C seat across the aisle in the row behind.
Checking in for the way home, we experienced another variation. Cheryl got seat 15C, Littl’un was placed over the aisle in 15D and I was condemned to the back corner 24F. Another family with three children and two parents was spread across three different rows scattered throughout the aircraft.
It seemed like a new innovation, perhaps a deliberate one to encourage families to pay out for the guaranteed seating option. The Civil Aviation Authority issue guidelines, and common sense would ask:
Would it be safe for a four year old to sit in the row behind her parents, or across the aisle?
bmibaby responded. And here’s what they have to say.
If passengers want to guarantee they sit together then they have the option to reserve their seats online prior to departure for a small fee. Alternatively a seat will always be allocated for them at check in free of charge. We have found that our customers value the benefit of being allocated a seat as this avoids any mad dash for a seat at the departure gate.
If a high percentage of passengers choose to pre allocate their seats in advance of travel, this means that the remaining seats will be limited. However our staff at check in and our cabin crew will always try and accommodate passenger’s seating requirements – as highlighted in your blog post.
We will ensure your comments are raised with the relevant management team.
I’m not sure how “a seat will always be allocated for them at check in free of charge” sits alongside the £5/€5 non refundable airport check in charge for online passengers accessing a physical check in desk at the airport.
Getting back to the fundamental issue, I suggested that it surely would not be safe if passengers actually obeyed their auto-allocated seats and allowed four year old children to be seated across the aisle or in the row in front of the adult accompanying them. Which of course is the kind of allocation that bmibaby’s check-in computer is making regularly.
Should someone choose not to pre book their seats together for a small fee, our technical team have advised me that the system will automatically try and sit party members together.
They also advised that they are currently working on the auto allocation functionality in order to resolve this matter and give preference to an adult / child combination.
So expect to see less of this kind of thing in the future! Do leave a comment on the blog if your young family is split up … or if bmibaby manages to keep them all together. And a big thank you to bmibaby for listening and replying.