A Mother Was Told By Airline That She Had To Pay Extra To Sit Next To Her 2-Year-Old On A Flight

Her husband was also seated seven rows behind them.

mother with baby on a plane ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

When Sara Kloek booked tickets for a family trip with American Airlines from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota, she was under the impression that her 2-year-old daughter, her husband, and herself would be accommodated together during the flight.

After all, American Airlines had announced in March that it was the first airline to guarantee children under the age of 14 and an accompanying adult to be seated together without any additional fee. However, she soon learned that wasn't the case.


Kloek took to Twitter to air out her grievances on the situation.

She was told by the airline that she had to pay extra to sit next to her two-year-old on a flight.

According to the airline, it "guarantee[s] children 14 and under will be seated adjacent to an accompanying adult at no additional cost." The airline further reassured travelers after Kloek's incident, saying it was proud of its "customer-friendly policies," which ensured positive travel experiences for families.

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Despite this assurance from American Airlines and vocal praise from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Twitter, Kloek found herself facing a predicament contrary to these promises.

While booking their flight several months earlier, there were no free seats next to each other available — only upgraded Main Cabin Extra seats were left for purchase.

Not wanting to pay extra, given American Airlines' policy of ensuring family seating at no extra cost, Kloek decided against buying these premium tickets. She believed that either she or her husband would certainly be assigned adjacent seats with their young daughter.

Fast forward to the day before departure, and reality struck as Kloek discovered that her family's seat assignments were far from ideal. She and her two-year-old daughter were allocated separate seats across an aisle while her husband's seat was seven rows behind them.


This issue was further complicated as Kloek's daughter travels using a car seat, which should be placed in window seats according to AA's policy for safety reasons — Kloek had an aisle seat.

In an attempt at resolution, she reached out via AA's chat function, where she was offered two choices: either pay $61 each for two Main Cabin Extra Seats or let the flight attendants manage things once they arrived at the airport. “I didn’t think that was in the spirit of what those commitments were,” Kloek said in an interview with USA Today.


The airline still maintained its stance, explaining how standard free seats had already been assigned, leaving reassignment decisions largely up to the discretion of airport personnel and flight attendants.

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Kloek tweeted pictures highlighting her predicament and directly tagged American Airlines.

This move proved successful as AA privately messaged her shortly after. The airline assured Kloek that she and her daughter had been reassigned window and aisle adjacent seats.

But Kloek couldn't help but feel burdened by having put so much effort into ensuring basic conveniences like sitting beside one's baby during flights — something which should have been resolved automatically per claims made by AA themselves.


An American Airlines spokesperson told USA Today that, typically, automatic booking processes do indeed assign families adjoining seats, making cases such as Kloek's rather unlikely exceptions than norms.

However, on the airline's website, it states, "Adjacent seats are available in the same class of service your child is ticketed at the time of booking," which was a condition Kloek didn't meet when she booked her tickets.

According to AA, if you're looking towards ensuring your family sits together, you should consider a few things — including booking earlier rather than later so more free seat options are available. 


"Skip seat assignments when booking and AA’s system will detect that you’re a family flying together and assign your seats together a few days after booking," USA Today shared. And if you're booking separate reservations, the airline recommends calling its AA Reservations number so they can assign you proper seating.

Kloek couldn't have handled the situation better and took steps to assure that her demands as an airline passenger were met. Because, let's face it, there were plenty of not-so-friendly ways she could have put AA on blast.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.