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*This is an account directly from a Facebook group to which I belong, posted with permission from the family.*

On December 26 the Klatt family was scheduled to fly to Reykjavik on IcelandAir out of Minneapolis. Due to operational issues on the airline’s part, their original flight was canceled, and they were left scrambling to find other arrangements that would still get them to Iceland on time. IcelandAir did a good job accommodating the Klatts on another flight, which involved flying the couple and their two-year old son to Toronto on a different carrier where they would be able to still depart for Iceland the same day as scheduled on another IcelandAir flight. Everything seemed fine.

Yet things would go completely awry.

Rebooked, but reseated

The Klatts arrived in Toronto on their connection and went to receive their seat assignments for their IcelandAir flight. Their relief at being re-booked changed to ” extreme disbelief and disappointment” when they saw that none of the family was seated together. None. All three of the Klatts were split up, including their two year old son. They were told not to worry, and that they should arrive at the gate at 6:30 and their need to all be together would be accommodated.

Arriving on the dot at 6:30 p.m., just any anxious parent would do, the Klatts were then told that there were no other seats available. Their seats, 28F, 30C, 31D to be exact, would have to suffice. They were given a diagram of the seats, as if that was supposed to help them feel better. As you can see, the parent that would obviously be in 28F can’t do a thing, while the other one would be both across the aisle and one row apart from their child.

a screenshot of a keyboard

Sorta close, I guess. It would be a bummer to be in the 30C/31D configuration with either my eight or eleven-year-old, but I know we’d manage it. WIth a toddler? No way. Definitely not acceptable.

IcelandAir refuses to budge

The Klatts begged to be re-seated, but the gate agents and flight attendants didn’t do a thing. Boarding time came, and they headed to the aircraft. The Klatts son had to be seated in his own seat, and when his mom left him to sit in her own seat across the aisle, the kid broke down and started screaming, Mommy, don’t leave me!” You would think the flight attendants would have intervened at this point, but they were no help, either.

I’m left shaking my head in disbelief at the airline staff. At a minimum, IcelandAir should have seated one parent with the two-year-old. Given that the airline was re-accommodating a number of passengers and the plane was undoubtedly full, getting more than that might be a stretch. But it is completely unacceptable to place a child of that age away from their parents.

My own experiences

When my kids and I returned from Paris on an Air France flight (SEE: Air France A380 Economy Review: Paris to SFO), we were on two separate PNRs. When we checked in, I could not get seats next to the kids. I had opted not to pay for seat selection, counting on Air France being able to seat us together.

Which turned out to be exactly what they did. All it took was asking the gate agent when we got to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Super easy, and completely unlike the Klatt’s experience.

In another instance I saw a family traveling with two kids, a boy of about 11 and a girl of about 9. You could tell they had traveled before and we’re mostly comfortable sitting next to strangers. All were in middle seats. They almost certainly had booked basic economy, as I could tell they were prepares for the experience. But the family knew what they were getting into, which makes it entirely different than this incident.


Things turned out all right for the Klatts in the end, as the passenger seated next to their son swapped seats with Mrs. Klatt so that they could be together. Everyone was able to calm down, and the little guy passed out in his mom’s arms on the way to Iceland where they were able to enjoy a wonderful time as a family. It absolutely should not be up to the kindness of a complete stranger to relieve the situation. IcelandAir failed terribly.

I cannot imagine ever going through this as a parent. As my older kids are 8 and 11, I might suck it up and stop fighting with the gate agents if they ever refused to seat us together in a similar situation, as long as both of my kids are fairly close and visible from where I am sitting. Still, it seems inexcusable. I would be upset.

What are your thoughts on this situation? It is obviously mishandled by the airline. It should not be up to other passengers to accommodate seating kids with their parents.

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