Travel Q&A: Arranging family plane seats together

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These questions were answered by travel experts at the Washington Post:

Q: We bought our December airline tickets in August, and United refused to give us reserved seating. We're flying with two small boys, and I can't be separated from them on a five-hour flight. What should my strategy be to get seats together?

A: Within 24 hours of your departure, call or check in online to reserve seating. If you can't get any seats together, arrive early at the airport and speak with an agent at the check-in counter. If all else fails, inform the flight crew when you board of your needs. The flight attendant should ask a kindly soul to give up his or her seat so that you can sit with your sons. From my experience, travelers always step up for families.

Q: Do you have any tips for getting a good deal on a room in one of the swankier Las Vegas hotels? There'll be three of us, and we'd like to have a nice room to hang out in.

A: Try a discounted third-party hotel site, such as Priceline and Hotwire. Some casino resorts also offer members (sign up for free) deals. You can also find deals if you book a package with air. Vegas.com also lists specials. Prices in Vegas fluctuate a lot. On a slow week, you can pay a piddly amount for a room; but if a big event's in town, the rate skyrockets. If possible, pick a time when there's no big to-do, such as an awards show.

Q: I'll need to book April flights to Boston on (what used to be) US Airways in February. What's the risk that these flights will be rescheduled -- or canceled?

A: The merger is moving faster than we expected, and there will be some route consolidation. If your flight is canceled, the "new" American will offer either a full refund or a flight of its choosing. Unfortunately, that's all it's required to do.

Q: My wife and I will be in Innsbruck next summer and want to see great scenery in northern Italy and western Austria. What are your favorite places there?

A: We'd recommend the town of Bolzano in Italy, about 90 minutes from Innsbruck. And near Bolzano are lovely villages in the Italian Dolomites, including Val Gardena.

Q: I'll be traveling to Miami next month with my 4-year old daughter. Do you have recommendations for kid-friendly activities in the city?

A: Here are a few options: Monkey Jungle, Jungle Island (formerly Parrot Jungle), Miami Seaquarium and the Miami Metro Zoo.

Q: I'm thinking of taking my 60-something parents to Germany next year, but both have trouble walking. Are there tour companies that would be good to look into?

A: A river cruise sounds like just the thing for you and your parents -- you could cruise up the Rhine; Viking is the premier company, although there are others, such as Ama Waterways. Or you could check out Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel), which does tours geared to the older set.

Q: I'm tagging along on a business trip to Berlin at the end of January. We'll extend the trip for seven to 10 days and wonder which direction you'd recommend. Do we head to Paris/London (I've been to both, he's been to Paris), up to the Netherlands and Denmark? Over to Prague and Austria?

A: Since you've each been to either London or Paris, try traveling down to Prague, then hop over to Vienna. If you have time, you could hit a couple of other Austrian high points -- Innsbruck, Salzburg -- then wind up in Munich, and head home from there.

Q: I booked airline tickets through American's website. When I got the email confirmation, the first name of one of the passengers was cut off. Do I need to worry?

A: No. Your name is correct -- it's AA's technology that's coming up short. If your boarding pass prints out incorrectly, head to the airport early to clear things up. The airline shouldn't charge you to fix your ticket.



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