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Air France Rant

When we booked our tickets on Air France to fly to Chile (almost a year before we wanted to go) we asked if we could reserve seats. Travelling with a 1 and 3 year old is stressful enough and we wanted to make sure that we were all sitting together. We were told no it was too far in advance. Fair enough.

A couple of weeks before the flight we rang Air France to try and book our seats together. We were told no we would have to wait until 30 hours before the flight and book online. Again fair enough.

30 hours before the flight we logged in online and tried to book our seats. We were told by the system that we could not book our seats as we were travelling with children. Hmmm. Not really understanding the logic of this we rang Air France. I thought perhaps they waited to assign the front row seats until they knew how many children there were flying and the ages of the children etc. But to be honest we were not fussy. As long as we had seats together we didn't mind where we were sitting.

The very unhelpful people at Air France said they could not possibly assign us seats together because we had children and because we already had seats assigned. Hmmm - how was that possible? We asked where the seats were and we told that they were all separate. After pointing out politely that no way in the world could Amelie sit separately from us for the duration of the flight to Chile, we were told we would have to wait until we were at the airport to sort it out.

Feeling rather stressed we arrived at the airport with PLENTY of time. Just as well as our flight to Paris was cancelled due to snow. We then worked out how we were going to get to Chile. We were sent first on a flight to Dusseldorf. Before we left we asked if we could sort out our seats on the flight from Paris to Santiago. We were told that they would not do this for us as we had children (even though our bags were checked in for the whole flight).

When we arrived in Dusseldorf we asked if we could check in for the flight from Paris to Santiago. Again we were told no as we had children. At this point we met a German couple who were also flying to Santiago.

The connection in Paris was tight. So us and the German couple ran helter skelter to get to the right terminal in time. Believe me I have never run so fast especially in mini heels, with rucksack, handbag and Hanna in my arms. I also want to point out that we did not hold up the German couple. In fact sometimes we were in the lead and sometimes they were.

When we arrived at the check in desk for the flight the Air France lady took one look at us all and told the German couple to run to the gate and told us because we had children we could not get on the flight but would have to stay overnight in the airport.

At this point I lost it. I think Hanna and Amelie learnt some new vocabulary that night. I was somewhat polite but strong. What in the world was the logic where a 1 year old and a 3 year old would have to stay the night in the airport just because..... If the German couple could make it to the plane, we could damn well make it to the plane. We were told that it was because we were not checked in. But we were not checked in because nobody would check us in with children. I just don't understand it.

In the end we were allowed on the flight. And I also want to point out that we were not the last on the flight. So again the logic of not letting us on the flight was lost on me. Our seats were all separate and I have to say as a mother it was one of the worst things to hear my daughter crying as I was led to a seat the other end of the plane from her. Our fellow passengers were not in general very kind hearted. I was on the verge of tears, Hanna was crying and Amelie was shrieking Mummy, Mummy and nobody offered to move. Finally we got to sit together as my husband sorted it out. Not a single steward or stewardess was helpful.

After we got on the plane, it sat on the runway for 2 hours before taking off.

When we arrived in Santiago we were not that surprised to find we had no luggage. Nevermind, we still had 4 days before the Christening. We went and bought some cheapy shorts, t-shirts and sandals. The next day we were told that 1 out of 4 suitcases had been found. It was mine. (I can tell you that inside I did a jump for joy - at least I would have something to wear to the Christening!)

The following day we were told that one more suitcase had arrived. It was a red suitcase with name and address from some bloke travelling on Czech Airlines. How did we end up with that? The following day we were told one more suitcase had arrived. It had indeed and it was full of bits and pieces. You know the type of stuff that is packed last minute and really as an extra. So nothing useful whatsoever. We were still missing the girls Christening clothes, the candles I made, my husband's suit, the quilt for Josefina........

To make a long story short the suitcases never arrived before the Christening. They took a little holiday in Atlanta before joining us a week later.

Luckily my Mum had bought some beautiful dresses for the girls and had them in her suitcase so the girls looked absolutely gorgeous. The Christening went well despite Amelie deciding to try and make a run for it and shouting "NO NO NO I don't want it" at the top of her lungs! I love this photo!

Comments (13)


January 24, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Wow. That was some tale. I am sorry you had to go through all that. If I were you I'd email it to every available Air France email you can find until you get an apology. ;-)


January 24, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Separating you from the children was just horrible, I can't imagine traveling like that. And no one offered to change seats so you could sit next to the girls? I'm sorry the trip was like that, I feel anxious just thinking about being in such a situation with my daughters.


January 24, 2009 at 7:12 PM

I vow NEVER to fly with airfrance, I am horrified that as you had children you were not allowed to check in and have seats together. That is terrible, beyond terrible.
A similar thing happened to us once, the check in staff were awful but once on the flight the stewardesses were wonderful and moved people around to sit us all together. I hope you will be complaining?
I'm so happy it all ended up well for you though - EVENTUALLY and no thanks to airfrance.


January 24, 2009 at 7:52 PM

How horrible! I am outraged just reading this, especially because I've flown Air France loads of times and never, ever had this problem before. I hope that you go on a letter writing frenzy, and also point out that you are sharing your story with as many families as possible. I have had to check in earlier, get on planes eariler, etc., when I had my daughter with me, but no one has ever tried to seat us separately - that's just stupid.
And how can people be so cold hearted as to not offer to move so you could be together? I am blown away by the selfish nature of people once you get them on an airplane.
I'm so sorry you made it safe and sound, but I feel for you - my stomach is seriously in knots just reading your tale as I know how stressful it is flying with tots.
And if you EVER get stuck in Paris let me know! Seriously, we live outside of Paris, but you would be more than welcome in our small but welcoming apartment!

Dragon's Dolphin

January 24, 2009 at 11:58 PM

OMG Natasha! What a horrible flying experience. Of all the times my parents had to fly to/from Europe, in and around Europe, we NEVER had these kinds of problems. I've been on Airlines where someone was separated from family members, and if one of the seats was near me, I'd offer to swap so that they would be able to sit at least by one family member. I can't imagine that NO ONE would offer to do that!
BTW, Thanks for stopping by and visting my blog. I enjoy when people stop by and leave comments.
~Shelly~ from http://shellsspecialty.blogspot.com

A Spoonful Of Sugar

January 25, 2009 at 12:11 AM

Glad the Christening was special in the end despite your travel issues! I had a similar experieince when I was travelling with my children who were 2 and 4 at the time, also from Paris, and we didn't get seats together.

..... Carmen

January 25, 2009 at 12:27 AM

What a commotion! I can't believe how unhelpful everybody was... especially with children you'd think they would realize that it would be easier for EVERYONE on the flight if a family sat together. That's ridiculous in my opinion. I'm glad you used some strong wrods and got in the flight. In the end did you get all your suitcases?


January 25, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Natasha, that Airline sucks! I DESPAIR!!
I'm glad that you had a great time once you finally got there, and that the Christening went well >:o)
(What a shame your handmade candles got there late though, after all your hard work!).


January 25, 2009 at 4:27 PM

wow, I can't believe what you had to go through just becasue you were traveling with children! And then to have your luggage lost, oh my! At least it all ended up well for you


January 25, 2009 at 4:55 PM

All I can say is, "What?!?" You sounded a hell of a lot calmer than I would have remained.


January 26, 2009 at 12:14 AM

Hi Natasha. Thanks for visiting my blog. I can not believe they made you fly sitting apart from your small children!!!! That is just TERRIBLE! And no one offered to move? Poor little tykes. My DD's wouldn't like it either and they are 4 and 5.

Christina Lowry

January 30, 2009 at 7:35 AM

Oh Natasha, I've been away from blog land for awhile and I am just catching up. You poor thing, how can people be so heartless and treat you like a second class citizen because you have children? I agree with the other posts, write a letter, surely the people in charge of their publicity, the shareholders etc. would be horrified to hear your story! As if travelling doesn't come with enough other stresses, but to be seperated from your girls is mean. I'm sending you a big hug! :)


February 2, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Oh my word, what a nightmare!! What idiot would deem it in any way acceptable to split a child,of any age, up from their parents during a long-haul flight?
I do hope you complain to the top people at Air France - they should be totally ashamed of themselves!!
I'm so glad the christening went well - I love that photo too!