A Calgary traveller recently discovered a new seating rule put in place by Air Transat, and people aren’t very happy about it. The rule says that single travellers can’t pay to select a seat that could prevent couples or families from sitting together.
Time to find a travel buddy.
Would-be passenger Jacky Hyde told CTV Calgary that she tried to book an aisle seat in an empty row, and a message saying that she couldn’t “prevent two passengers from sitting together” popped up on her computer.
“I thought it was a little asinine and I felt, it felt pretty bad saying that a single traveller is worth less than what a couple might be,” Hyde told CTV Calgary.
So she called the airline to speak with a supervisor to see if they could bypass the system and get her the seat she wanted, but representatives were unable to provide a solution, or a real explanation.
“It’s mind boggling that they make all these rules to make money, and then I’m saying, okay, I’m willing to pay you for it, well, no, no, no you actually can’t,” she said.
Lea Williams-Doherty, a consumer specialist at CTV News, was told by an airline representative that “if we have many passengers scattered in the aircraft causing empty seats, it makes assigning seats for families and couples at the airport much more difficult.”
Air Transat did suggest that solo passengers who encounter this problem should contact the airline so they can take a look at the available seating and see if there’s a workaround. But who wants to make a call to an airline representative to argue about seating, after already trying to book online? No one.
According to airline passenger rights advocate, Dr. Gabor Lukacs, the airline isn’t breaking any laws by rewriting its seat sale rules. “It is odd,” he told CTV, “Air Transat may lose some business as a result and that may be, again, a business decision for Air Transat to decide. If passengers are going to vote with their feet and not book with Air Transat on account of this, that is their choice.”
Hyde also contacted Air Canada and West Jet and was told that she could book any seat she liked. So if you’re frustrated by Air Transat’s seating rule, you may want to just consider booking your trip with another airline. It’s their loss.