Is re­serv­ing seats on a flight worth the ex­tra cost?

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life -

The Wash­ing­ton Post’s travel sec­tion writ­ers and ed­i­tors re­cently dis­cussed sto­ries, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited ex­cerpts:

Q: My son and his hus­band have flights booked from Wash­ing­ton to Paris. They would like to sit to­gether but we’ve heard so much re­cently about re­served seats not even be­ing hon­ored. In your opin­ion, is it still worth the ex­tra cost to re­serve their seats ahead of time, or do you think they could take their chances and wait? They have been check­ing back to see how the flights are fill­ing up, but is that suf­fi­cient?

A: The air­line can move peo­ple in re­served seats, per its Con­tract of Car­riage. But mostly likely the crew will shift peo­ple around to ac­com­mo­date fam­i­lies or for other ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances. I fly pretty fre­quently and have never seen a pas­sen­ger moved with­out con­sent. Usu­ally, the flight at­ten­dant will ask peo­ple to vol­un­tar­ily move. If your son and his hus­band re­ally want to sit to­gether, they should im­prove their odds and pay for re­served seats. They should also check-in 24 hours be­fore de­par­ture and ar­rive at the board­ing gate early. If a flight at­ten­dant tries to split them up, they can say that they are ner­vous fliers and need the other’s sup­port. An­drea Sachs –

Q: I just got back from a won­der­ful nine days in Ire­land. Most of the trip went re­ally well. My part­ner and I had a great time. I sub­mit­ted sev­eral re­views on TripAd­vi­sor for var­i­ous at­trac­tions, tours and restau­rants. Most of those were (like the trip) great re­views.

One or two were more crit­i­cal – e.g., bad food amongst taste­ful decor in one restau­rant. I was sur­prised to get a pri­vate note from the restau­rant owner tak­ing me to task for my re­view – which were clearly based on my di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence. Not sure how he could ar­gue with the ex­pe­ri­ence I went through. Then I no­ticed a sim­i­lar trend in some other crit­i­cal re­views on TripAd­vi­sor – that the own­ers/pro­pri­etors of the ho­tel, restau­rant, tour, etc. were de­fen­sive; of­ten blam­ing the re­viewer for a bad ex­pe­ri­ence. Is this typ­i­cal?

I thought neg­a­tive re­views were a chance for folks in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try to con­sider ways to im­prove, to ad­dress short­com­ings (per­ceived right­fully or not), or even sim­ply to ex­press re­gret or re­morse of a bad ex­pe­ri­ence. See­ing those makes me won­der if be­ing a part of TripAd­vi­sor’s com­ment­ing con­trib­u­tors is valu­able – it also makes me won­der about the re­li­a­bil­ity of those re­views given the rather trou­bling push back from pro­pri­etors of ser­vices. What are your thoughts?

A: I have a very good friend who owns sev­eral restau­rants. She gets up­set by bad re­views on TripAd­vi­sor, Yelp, etc., when the re­viewer never first told the man­ager that there was an is­sue. She said they al­ways try to make it right when some­one is up­set with their meal, ser­vice, etc., and ap­pre­ci­ate the chance to do so in real time. Per­haps this has some­thing to do with the de­fen­sive­ness? – Carol Sot­tili

Q: Do you think it’s worth it to bring your own snorkel gear to Hawaii? We’re go­ing to be in Maui for seven days for our hon­ey­moon and I’m not sure if it’s the kind of place you just snorkel any­where.

A: Yes, there are plenty of snor­kel­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in Maui. Honolua Bay and Slaugh­ter­house Beach are among the best for div­ing. If you’re go­ing to spend a lot of time near the wa­ter in Maui, you might want to bring your own gear. – Christo­pher El­liott

Q: We are con­sid­er­ing heading to ei­ther Sa­van­nah, Ge­or­gia, or Charleston, South Carolina, for an ex­tended-fam­ily Christ­mas get to­gether. Would you rec­om­mend one over the other?

A: I would prob­a­bly choose Charleston over Sa­van­nah. I like the vibe of the city, with its his­toric homes and great restau­rants/bars. – Sot­tili

Q: I just had a very frus­trat­ing trip with South­west. They can­celled my re­turn flight from Austin 90 min­utes be­fore the sched­uled de­par­ture, and could not get me on an­other flight un­til the fol­low­ing day. They claimed the can­cel­la­tion was caused by weather, but the fact that nu­mer­ous flights to D.C., by both South­west and other air­lines, de­parted later that af­ter­noon/even­ing make me sus­pect oth­er­wise. I had to book a ho­tel at my own ex­pense and was greatly in­con­ve­nienced, fi­nally ar­riv­ing home over 24 hours later than ex­pected. My ques­tion: do air­lines have to pro­vide any kind of doc­u­men­ta­tion/proof when they claim weather as a rea­son for a can­cel­la­tion? I’m def­i­nitely go­ing to fol­low up with South­west, but I’d like to say some­thing other than “you said it was caused by weather but I don’t be­lieve you.”

A: Air­lines do not need to prove the de­lay was caused by weather, un­for­tu­nately. And the govern­ment takes air­lines at their word when they blame the weather for a de­lay or can­cel­la­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, air­lines also don’t have to pro­vide any kind of com­pen­sa­tion to pas­sen­gers when there’s a weather de­lay. El­liott –

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