Subject: Sitting together on airplanes
Dear Ziners,

I have an odd question I don't think I've ever seen addressed on this list, though I've been a member for over 3 years.

My family (six of us, including four kids) typically takes several vacations involving air travel each year. I usually book the trips, and without my doing anything special, somehow we have always managed to get seats together (sometimes all six together, other times pairs or triples).

We just got back from a weeklong vacation, and on both legs of the trip we were scattered throughout the plane. On the flight there we ran across other travelers in similar situations, and managed to sort it out so that various families were reunited and I could sit with two of my kids. On our return flight, a redeye, we got to the airport over 2 hours early, only to find that we had again been given randomly assigned seats. Airline personnel were unsympathetic, both on the ground and on the plane itself. My normally brave 7-year-old, my youngest child, was in tears at the thought of having to sit by himself. The poor little guy was so tired (it was 11 p.m.) and the people I asked refused to move so that we could sit together. (He and I both had aisle seats, no dreaded middles, on a 767.) Finally I found one sympathetic flight attendant, and she managed to get us adjacent seats.

Can someone tell me what I did wrong? In the past, when I've chosen seats at the time of booking the flight, it hasn't made a difference--the boarding passes inevitably specify different seats--and I didn't bother selecting seats this time. (I don't even remember if this particular vendor gave me the option to do so.) After checking the prices at expedia, travelocity, the airlines themselves, etc, I used a different online vendor than I usually do--was that my mistake?

I would rather not deal with this again, so would appreciate any suggestions.

Thank you-- JoAnne, happy to be back home in sunny northern California