When will BA get serious about seating and safety?

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  SimonS1 22 Sep 2017
at 23:20
.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)

  • LuganoPirate
    Participant

    An interesting letter in today’s FT. Any thoughts on this?

    Sir, On the flight back from Geneva at the end of a half-term skiing trip, I was amazed at the number of families that had been separated by BA’s seating allocation system.

    Seating families together is not simply a matter of passenger convenience, it is a key element of in-flight safety. Even assuming friendly passengers would be able to assist a stranger’s child in putting on an oxygen mask, it is well recognised that separating families causes significant slowdown in an emergency evacuation, and the Civil Aviation Authority as such puts in place regulations to ensure that families are seated together.

    The case of Flight EK521 last August where Emirates successfully executed an emergency evacuation in Dubai before the aircraft was engulfed in flames demonstrates just how important these regulations are, and it is disgraceful that BA does not have better systems and training in place for its staff to ensure safety of its passengers.

    It would be simple for BA’s seating system to run a final check before check-in to ensure that all children are seated with their parents. It might inconvenience some travellers who had previously requested specific seats, as on flights with many children on board it could mean significant reseating, but it is surely right that every airline prioritises safety over convenience? The seating problem itself, although extremely complex to fix manually, is a very simple problem for a computer to solve and one worthy of the small investment required to implement.

    The thought of a burning aircraft on the runway may be enough to send a shiver down the spine of International Airlines Group investors, but fatalities due to a failed emergency evacuation would surely be a death blow to the company.

    Tom Weiss CEO, Genius Digital, Bristol, UK


    Reeferman
    Participant

    BA already has this functionality – it’s called reserved seating! Its website specifically mentions the desire for families to sit together. If families chose not to purchase this option, then they must accept the consequences of the risk of not being seated together – again, as stated on its website.

    To avoid the issues raised in the letter, perhaps is should be mandatory for passengers travelling with children under a certain age to purchase pre-assigned seating?

    I would not be happy (particularly if I had paid to reserve a seat) if asked to move seats to accommodate a family who had chosen to save money by not being prudent in their travel arrangements – just, presumably, to save a few Pounds (the irony being that this occurred on a presumably somewhat expensive half-term skiing trip!)


    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    Under the current policy, I think Reeferman’s argument is absolutely right. But at the same time, I think BA should re-think their policy. To charge for some specific seats (emergency exit, bulkhead etc) makes sense but otherwise seats should be allocated by BA themselves, not open for people to pre-book, and without any charge.

    The main issue of course is that no one wants a middle seat but that should be an incentive to check in early. Equally, families of 3, 4 or more should be allocated blocks of seats (including the middle row) automatically and sat together.

    As a part of that process, status passengers should be allocated seats according to their stated preference (window or aisle). It should not be too much of a challenge to design a system to do that.


    openfly
    Participant

    I usually get the emergency exits on BA short-haul due to status.
    In the last few flights I have witnessed a partially sighted person, a very mature person with a walking stick, two extremely large gentlemen who couldn’t attach the seat belt and needed the extension occupying em exit seats. I have seen elderly slight ladies who couldn’t possibly lift the em exit.
    No action was taken by the crew in each of these cases. Anything for an easy life! Safety aware…nah!


    Hermes1964
    Participant

    I agree its madness to separate yourself from your children. I’ve often thought when seeing parents in J dispatching their children to Y that there would be a terrible scrum in the event of an evacuation as, of course, they would push their way back to retrieve their loved ones.

    Anyone who has ever stowed a bag two rows behind them and sought to retrieve it during a normal disembarkation should realise that pushing against 300-odd people trying to escape flames or in darkness is going to lead to problems. If you shouldn’t wait to retrieve your luggage, you certainly shouldn’t wait to retrieve your children.


    Flightlevel
    Participant

    One has to remember this is the safest way to travel although Reeferman’s point is still important. It cannot be beyond the capability of a programmer to provide a solution to the problem, or at least provide warning notices when you book your seat and young children should have a no cost priority to be able to travel next to parents?


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    This is what BA says, make of it what you will:

    “To get the best choice of seats and to make sure your family sits together, it’s best to reserve your seats in advance, for which you might have to pay.

    If you don’t choose your seats in advance, we’ll do our best to seat your family together a few days before your flight departs, from the limited selection of seats available. This might result in your family being split over different rows or across the aisle, however we will make sure each child under 12 is seated with an adult from your booking. Anyone over 12 years is treated as an adult in our system, so we may seat them separately.”

    https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/family-travel/seating


    Flightlevel
    Participant

    Good news for children then although doubt if all 13-17 year olds think like an adult and legally they are not. The news report in an incident will describe them as children and in the event they get out and on social networks I’m sure they can cause bad publcity!


    BrotherJim
    Participant

    It is essentially legalised bastardy. Essentially a way to force people into buy a seating allocation. Most other full service airlines that I know of that have paid for seat reservations shadow book all people on the same PNR together to avoid this issue. And if the group wants to pay they get a choice of seat, if they don’t pay they get them airline assigned, but still together. Seperating as mentioned is IMO just a way of attempting to force people to pay for a seat booking, nothing more.


    Poshgirl58
    Participant

    Guidance on the CAA website states:

    “Families, children and infants

    The seating of children close by their parents or guardians should be the aim of airline seat allocation procedures for family groups and large parties of children.

    Young children and infants who are accompanied by adults, should ideally be seated in the same seat row as the adult. Children and accompanying adults should not be separated by more than one aisle. Where this is not possible, children should be separated by no more than one seat row from accompanying adults. This is because the speed of an emergency evacuation may be affected by adults trying to reach their children.

    Whenever a number of infants and children are travelling together the airline should make every effort to ensure that they can be readily supervised by the responsible accompanying adults.”

    One of the worst reported culprits is Thomas Cook who manage to seat children many rows away from parents and between total strangers. I have read other forum postings on this subject (not sure whether this site) that advises passengers to quote UK Child Protection policies. It shouldn’t be beyond the capabilities of airline/holiday company staff to ensure that all on the same booking ref are seated together, but it just seems a cynical way of making money at the expense of passenger safety.


    Ah,Mr.Bond
    Participant

    They can all sit together if they want, it’s called seat preallocation which you now have to pay for and is a cost they would have known about. Whose fault is it if this is not done to save a few pennies? This then highlights the true importance levels the parent themselves then place on this issue… “assuming” the airline will sort it out.
    Sorry, I pay for my seating and I for one will not move into a middle seat for anyone.
    I am not in agreement with seating charges, but if it really is that big a deal, then next time fly with Swiss whose baggage fare also includes free seating…. AND ….. a snack.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    They can all sit together if they want, it’s called seat preallocation which you now have to pay for and is a cost they would have known about. Whose fault is it if this is not done to save a few pennies? This then highlights the true importance levels the parent themselves then place on this issue… “assuming” the airline will sort it out.
    Sorry, I pay for my seating and I for one will not move into a middle seat for anyone.
    I am not in agreement with seating charges, but if it really is that big a deal, then next time fly with Swiss whose baggage fare also includes free seating…. AND ….. a snack.

    I just had a look at a random week in Autumn, for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids.

    4x return WT fares were £1198 and booking thevery cheapest seats available both ways added £88 to the booking or 7.4% – not pennies for ayoung family.

    By the way, the airline is promising to ‘do their best’ to sort things out, so I propose that it is not really fair to apportion all the blame to the family.


    Offshore_Chef
    Participant

    In December I flew Edinburgh to London then onto New York and return with my wife and kids, BA automatically allocated us seats together a week before flying


    CathayLoyalist2
    Participant

    FaroFlyer
    Participant

    Only because it is BA does this holiday trip get onto a Business Traveller forum. If it was Ryanair, or a tour company, it would not be discussed here.

    Because of my location I travel frequently with a “scheduled” airline that provides complimentary extra leg room seating for frequent travellers. Despite this I, and fellow frequent travellers, are often asked to move to allow families to sit together. My reply is always to ask why, when they paid for their setas, they did not tick the boxes to sit together. Why should I move?

    Which continent is BrotherJim based in? Most airlines in Europe charge for seating, as does, I believe, the USA.

    If it is really a safety issue then the CAA, or ICAO, should make a ruling that all travelling with infants must pay for seats. It seems fair.

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