What that doesn't sound like a good deal to you?
On Tuesday, I flew from Baltimore to Chicago with my two small children (ages 2, and 5 months) on my own.
I asked to be seated with my toddler when I made my reservation and was told I'd need to ask at ticketing because two-year-olds can't fly alone. When we got to the airport after I pushed my two-year-old in a stroller, wore my baby in an Ergo baby carrier, strapped a carseat to my back, rolled luggage and carried my diaper bag. The employee at United who handled our ticketing was rude. She didn't want to help us (or the man next to us). I smiled and asked to make sure our seats were together. After taking a really long time to get our tickets, she realized she hadn't checked to see if we were together. As she handed me the tickets, she told me to get them changed at the gate when I picked up a stroller tag. It took so long that by the time we got through security, I had to sort of run with one child in the stroller and the other in the baby carrier. When I got to the desk, the employees didn't acknowledge me until one asked if we needed a stroller tag.
I said yes and that we needed our seats to be changed. They told me they couldn't change our seats and that I'd have to see the flight attendants for help.
As we boarded the plane, I approached to flight attendants and said, "I need your help, my two-year-old and I are not seated together." They laughed and said if I could get someone to change seats we could sit together and that my two year old could sit alone.
I walked down the aisle behind my two-year-old and my eyes began to fill with tears imagining how scared he'd be if he had to sit alone. I started to cry and by the time we reached the aisle of our first seat 32A which was 4 aisles away from our other seat in 36B and a woman in 31C asked how she could help. I asked the man in 32B if he would switch with us and he did.
But United was content with a stranger paying money to babysit my two-year-old. My two-year-old that can wiggle out of his car seat harness, who runs faster than anyone I know. My two-year-old that's adorable and precocious and who knows creative ways of asking why, who, how, what, and where.
So if you want to buy one airline ticket and get a chance to babysit a stranger's active, scared, overtired two-year-old definitely fly United. They are happy to offer your free services.
Me? I'll fly any flights I've already paid for but short of an apology and a promise other families won't have to be separated from toddlers, I won't get suckered into their bogus deal. And I plan to follow up with United and my congresspeople to see why there aren't safety regulations and protections for our nation's littlest flyers. Join me?