Teacher’s frustration at Aer Lingus seating fiasco

AN ENNISKILLEN woman has spoken of how Irish airliner, Aer Lingus, insisted on forcing both her and her husband to seat 20 rows apart on a long-haul flight from America.
Catherine McCaig, 56, who is a teacher, said Aer Lingus’ staff in Seattle, USA were unfriendly and unhelpful as she pleaded with them to apply some common sense.
The couple had booked their flight with a third-party agent who offered no seating allocation for the Dublin to Seattle return flight.
They realised they had been split up when they checked in at Dublin only for them to re-seated together by helpful Aer Lingus staff at that airport.
Realising that they would face the same issue coming back, attempts to get seats together saw Aer Lingus tell them to arrange it with the third party agent only for the latter to insist it was a matter for Aer Lingus.
Come check-in time, the friendly face shown by the airline at Dublin was anything but at the American end.
Catherine said: “We had booked with (third-party travel agent) Skyscanner and not directly with Aer Lingus. So I don’t know if that led to the issue.
“We were going to Portland via Seattle with Aer Lingus and we were not seated together. So my husband asked Aer Lingus staff at Dublin if they could help.
“The girl who dealt with us was really nice and very helpful. She said ‘that’s no problem. I’ll see what I can do’ and got us two seats together.
“However, on the way back, we had the same problem. We went to try and sort out the seating thing as again, we were seated twenty rows apart.
“Sadly, the Aer Lingus staff in Seattle were of no help whatsoever. They were not prepared to do anything instead saying we could maybe ‘trade’ with another passenger when we get on board.
“Unlike the girl in Dublin, the one in Seattle was unhelpful in comparison.
“When we were boarding, we asked again with the staff on the plane if there was anything they could do but they said no.
“I explained to the guy sitting next to me that my husband, David, was seated halfway down the plane and would he mind changing with him. Thankfully he said he would.
“So thanks to this man’s generosity, my husband and I were spared having to sit apart – and next to strangers – for eight and a half hours on a long-haul flight.
“I’ve always flown long-haul with Aer Lingus in the past and had found them to be really good. I just don’t think that this time they were just as good. I don’t know if I’d fly with them again.”
To make matters worse, the flight back home was delayed with little communication from Aer Lingus as to why this was or when the flight would take off.
Catherine added: “We were supposed to fly off at 7.25pm but didn’t take off until 10pm.
“The flight board was saying ‘delayed to 8.45’ and were told to be at the boarding gate for quarter to eight.
“So we did that only we didn’t get on the flight until half-past nine with the plane eventually taking off half an hour later. No explanation was given for the delay.”
In response an Aer Lingus spokeswoman said: “We can confirm the delay was due to a late inbound aircraft from Dublin, we apologise for any inconvenience this many have caused.
“When seats are not pre-booked they are allocated based on remaining availability at check-in and in this instance we do our best to accommodate customers.
“However for those who have specific seating preferences we do recommend pre-booking seats in advance.”

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