US Airways Sold My "Choice Seat," Made Me Sit In Back Of Plane

Justin writes that he booked a flight on US Airways, and decided that his comfort was worth paying $15 extra for the privilege of having the seat of his choice, on an aisle at the front of the plane. When he went to check in, he learned that the same special seat had been sold to someone else. He warns Consumerist readers: don’t assume that you will actually get the seat assignment that you pay for.

A few weeks ago, I bought a transcontinental ticket on US Airways. When I saw that the only available seat assignments were in the middle, I decided to pay the extra $15 for an aisle seat up front. I received an email receipt from the airline confirming my new seat assignment, and the fee was charged to my credit card.

The day before my flight, I went online to check in and got an error message saying that the airline had changed my seat assignment to a window seat towards the back of the plane. I called the reservations line to inquire about the change and was told that the front aisle seat was reserved for me and an agent at the airport would print me a correct boarding pass.

When I got to the airport, I showed the gate agent my email confirming the aisle seat. The gate agent told me that someone else was assigned to that seat, and since the flight was full I could either wait for the next flight or sit in the back and take up the issue with customer relations when I got home. I chose the latter and sent in an email complaint through the airline’s website.

A week later, a representative replied asking for a code from my credit card statement to verify that I was charged the $15 fee, which I provided. Another week passed and I received a message saying that they would be refunding my $15 with no other explanation. Good news, I guess, but passengers should not assume that “buying” a seat assignment will guarantee they get it.

Look, airlines, if you’re going to drain our pockets with fees, at least deliver the things that we paid the fees for.