Regarding "Trying to Sit Together" [Letters, Feb. 15]: Years ago, when traveling with my young daughter, I had no problem rearranging our separate seating assignments when I informed the stranger next to her that I had requested an extra bag from the flight attendant because she often suffered from motion sickness. It was, in fact, true. Not that I am recommending fabricating such a story, but it definitely helped in our situation.
Here's another item to add to letter writer David Kaufman's great "kit" to help get your family seated together without paying extra. Give the flight attendants earplugs and say, "My kids always scream and cry when they're not close to mommy and daddy."
Kudos to Qantas
This might be an unusual email to you because it concerns an airline that made a mistake and apologized for it. The situation is as follows:
1. I made reservations for my wife and me to fly to Australia on Qantas using my American Airlines miles.
2. The return trip is structured over two days. We were to arrive in Sydney from Cairns in the afternoon and fly from Sydney to L.A. the next morning (a 22-hour layover).
3. Last month, Qantas restructured its routes so that we would leave Sydney late in the afternoon, a 25½-hour layover.
American called me to tell me that because of the change I had breached the 24-hour layover rule and would need to buy or use miles for additional tickets.
5. American tried to contact Qantas to help deal with the issue, but Qantas was slow in responding.
6. After three phone calls over 90 minutes, I obeyed the rules by changing our Cairns-to-Sydney flight to a layover of less than 24 hours.
Frustrated by this heavy-handed bureaucratic application of the rules by Qantas, I wrote a letter to Vanessa Hudson, the airline's senior executive vice president of the Americas. Her office was very responsive and contacted me immediately upon receipt of my letter. Her office apologized profusely for creating an unnecessary and unpleasant experience before even flying on Qantas. Qantas is giving us access to its business-class lounge in LAX while we wait for our outbound flight to Sydney.
For me, it is hooray for Qantas for stepping up and admitting that it should have waived the rule because it caused the problem. It could have hidden behind its rule and said, "Tough."
Regarding "Flying for 'Free'? Not Really" by Eric Rosen [Feb. 1]: I recently found out that booking a reward ticket using American AAdvantage miles by phone can be free (not $25). After searching online for a reward ticket for my wife to travel from LAX to Tokyo in August, I couldn't find reward flights on American that were nonstop or fit her schedule.
When I called the AAdvantage Desk, the service agent found a reward ticket on Japan Airlines (AA partner) for only 32,500 miles. Although my wife's return flight will be on American (and cost me 60,000 miles), because JAL reward tickets cannot be purchased online, the agent waived the $25 service fee.
As a result, calling the AAdvantage Travel Desk saved me 27,500 miles and the $25 service fee. I would never have thought about booking a flight on a "partner" airline, and because JAL flights are not available online, I would never have seen it. This has completely changed my thinking about booking reward flights in the future.