Delta's partner,Air France, reassigned seats on Delta-booked flight

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Oct 11, 2017
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#1
In May 2017, a group of 4 booked flights for a December 2017 on Delta/ Air France code share to/from Orlando to Germany. We chose
4 bulkhead seats on the return Air France leg from CDG to MCO. Air France charged extra for these seats, classified as "Preferred seats."
Our flight (and seat assignment) has been changed twice by the airline. We are not able to get the 4 bulkhead seats nor sit together as it is now close to our travel date and seats are assigned to others or being blocked-out by Air France. We've also been told we may ask at the gate to see if bulkhead seats are available although we doubt availability at such a late date. My husband will be needing a disability accommodation and it is imperative that he have a bulkhead seat for him and for 2 others of us. While we do not label us as "disabled," 2 of the other travelers have special needs for a bulkhead seats due to medical conditions involving teir legs. The Delta rep expressed concern and stated we shouldn't have to "settle" for these seats. We were given the ph# for the Air France "medical desk" who was not able to get us our 4 bulkhead seats. We made additional seat selections with Air France but they are not acceptable to us and are, indeed, "settling" and making the best of a bad situation.
**Of note, I have not included all the details but we have spent many hours on the phone with Delta's customer service - they have been polite & understanding but they tell us there is nothing they can do about Air France's seating policies.**

Desired resolution: As the alternative seating is not acceptable to us, I would like for the 4 of us to be able to sit together in the bulkhead row, as we had reserved (and paid extra for), many months in advance.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#2
Unfortunately, seat assignments are not guaranteed. I think they may have changed aircraft types and there were not enough seats in the new plane. It could be worse- you could be bumped from the flight. In these cases that is what often happens.

If your husband is disabled you must go through the special services reservations area and have his ticket noted. Did you have his reservation marked that he is handicapped?

If they no longer have the upgraded seats available all they owe you is a refund of what you paid for the upgrade.

And whoever told you to ask at the gate is right- they do hold some seats open so get to the airport at least 3 hours before the flight is to leave to try to get first crack at those seats.

And make sure you do your online check in 24 hours before. When bumping, many times the last people to check in are the ones bumpedz

Here are the DOT Guidelines to your consumer rights when flying - there is also a link about flying when disabled:


https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
Unfortunately bulk head seats are in demand not only by the travelers with disabilities but also the disabled with service animals and those who need bassinets for babies -- especially in the center section of seats for bassinets.

As their are so few bulkhead seats the airlines have to weigh necessity and that is why it is so important that travelers alert the airline about disabilities.

As the flight has changed several times I suspect Neil is correct in that there have been aircraft changes. And as he pointed out a reservation does not guarantee a particular seat but a "class" or type of seat. So Preferred seating does not necessarily mean bulkhead.

is it an absolute necessity for all four to sit together? Could it be split 2 and 2?
 
Aug 26, 2017
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#5
This is a really crappy situation, but not unusual. In many years of flying, this is what I've found:
1. As stated above, seat assignments are NOT guaranteed.
2. #1 is especially true with aircraft changes (last minute or earlier/schedule changes)
3. I've had the most difficulty with non-USA carriers - especially Asian carriers who oftentimes forbid seat assignments until airport check-in
4. I've never once seen a baby in a bassinet on a plane (twin-aisle aircraft have the metal bracket holes on the bulkhead wall). Really wish I had.

Since this is an "advice" site, this is my key piece of advice:

Call the airline and declare that you have a leg/knee disability - prior surgery, whatever. Notably that your knee locks if you can't stretch it.

This doesn't solve "all four together", but for anyone who isn't in bulkhead, this is the one sure-fire way to get it.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
The OP does not claim that all 4 are disabled and in fact says that not all are disabled so I do not think it is a good idea to claim a disability when one does not exist.

If someone has a fused knee or an immobilized leg they will have priority for the bulkhead and they certainly need it.
 
Likes: jsn55
Aug 26, 2017
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#7
And the airline moved them.

There are no specific rules around this - see "miracles" as noted by airlines/airports (do a Google search).

The OP does not claim that all 4 are disabled and in fact says that not all are disabled so I do not think it is a good idea to claim a disability when one does not exist.

If someone has a fused knee or an immobilized leg they will have priority for the bulkhead and they certainly need it.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
And the airline moved them.

Yes the airlines moved them. We do not know how the request was put in and when in the process the medical desk was contacted. However the OP stated "While we do not label us as "disabled," 2 of the other travelers have special needs for a bulkhead seats due to medical conditions involving teir legs. " so people with more serious disabilities may have gotten those seats.

I am familiar with the miraculous recoveries of some passengers. I do however, have friends with serious mobility problems from degenerative diseases who truly need special accommodations and I am familiar with the problems they have while traveling. Faking a disability to get a better seat or better treatment is repulsive to me. What if a person with a faked disability gets a seat before someone with a real one? I may be oversensitive to this issue because one disabled friend has had people try to poach her reserved wheelchair even when the attendant had her name on it.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,686
11,277
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
And the airline moved them.

There are no specific rules around this - see "miracles" as noted by airlines/airports (do a Google search).
You can't lie and say you have a disability when you don't. That is why she needs to call the airline and tell them only her husband has a medical issue - if in fact he does. They need to note it in his record.
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#10
My colleagues have hit upon all the relevant points. You can't get a bulkhead seat without proving a physical need. You can 'chose' those seats, but if someone else needs them, you're out of luck. There may be others who need the bulkhead and if you don't want to admit to a disability, then you will be reseated. The only way I know of guaranteeing adequate room is to book business or first class. Actually, these days, those seats are only about double an economy tix if you shop carefully. I realize that many passengers all want to 'sit together' but it's not reasonable to expect that.

I would call and see if there's any chance of an upgrade and what AF might want for it. I once upgraded at JFK from biz to first on EgyptAir for $600. The days of up-front seats costing 5x a coach seat are gone, at least for now.
 
Likes: Neil Maley