Should the babies in business class get priority bassinets?


Even though Kim Centrone made arrangements for Lufthansa to provide a bassinet for her baby on a recent flight from Washington to Frankfurt, the airline came up empty-handed. Now she wants a refund for the $1,000 extra she says she spent for the seat and the guarantee of the bassinet.

Some of you are probably asking yourself: $1k for a bassinet? Now that’s what I call an airline fee!

Not exactly. Centrone, who made her reservations on Orbitz, says she paid that more to fly on Lufthansa, as opposed to another carrier, because an airline representative promised she’d have a bassinet.

“They are the only airline with bassinets large enough for a child of our daughter’s age,” she explains. “Upon arrival at the airport for flights both ways, we were told we did not have a bassinet reserved.”

If you don’t think bassinets are a big deal, you probably haven’t flown with an baby lately. Here’s Lufthansa’s page on flying with kids, which describes the amenity, provided — I cringe to write this — “free of charge.”

OK, so technically the bassinets have no value. Therefore any promise Lufthansa might make would be for a, ahem, “free” amenity. (The $1,000 price just went down, at least in the airline’s mind.)

She adds,

Another mother with a baby on the same flight had the same problem – they had promised her that a bassinet was reserved, and it wasn’t. All bassinets were taken by others. I believe that they are doing this purposely, to get people to pay higher fares.

Ah, so the business class mommies had their bassinets, but the poor people in steerage didn’t. Are my egalitarian roots showing? I believe they are. Sorry about that.

Related story:   So where's my refund for my prepaid bulkhead seats, Lufthansa?

That wasn’t all.

“There were many other minor problems with the flights,” she explains. Centrone’s final destination wasn’t Frankfurt, and she was traveling with the rest of her family in economy class.

“The connection that we were assured would be sufficient wasn’t, and we had to run with an infant in our arms, as they had misplaced our stroller. Our baggage was delayed. They wouldn’t confirm our seats for the second flight and tried to seat us apart.”

Fortunately, Lufthansa found a bassinet for her on the return flight.

After she complained in writing, the airline offered her $100 for toiletries due to the delayed baggage, and 5,000 airline miles.

“They completely failed to address the issue of the dishonest business practice of promising bassinets to families with infants with no intention of following through on it in order to sell more expensive tickets,” she says.

I reviewed the correspondence between Centrone and Lufthansa, and I’m not sure if it will address the issue — or if it even needs to.

If you think of a bassinet as a seat, then you can understand why Lufthansa would deny her baby a bassinet and give it to an infant in the front of the plane (if, indeed, it did that). The aircraft cabin isn’t a utopian society; there are a few “haves” and many “have-nots.”

Is it fair? Of course not. But there are only so many windmills I can tilt at in a day.

I told Centrone I didn’t think she could get the $1,000 back from Lufthansa, since the promise technically had no value, but that I would write about this to see if the airline offered her enough compensation.

Related story:   Lufthansa stranded my 16-year-old son in Detroit

That’s what the comments are for today. But the question I want to ask is this: Has Lufthansa gone too far by segmenting the babies?

Should the babies in business class get priority bassinets?

View Results

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • William_Leeper

    The key word in that poll question is “should” and the answer is no, but from a business standpoint I can also see yes as being a good answer. I’m torn!

  • Richard

    A little confused here. She made the reservation through Orbitz, not direct w/Lufthansa. And, she choose Lufthansa, with it’s higher fare for the route, because they have bassinets “available.” I would assume that would be a limited number on a first-come-first-served basis unless they specifically take reservations for that amenity, which they don’t.

    Had LH charged her extra for the bassinets I could see her point. But, based on the info provided, I don’t see any promise or contract with LH. In any case, there was nothing to refund. She chose a more expensive fare, and got exactly what she paid for.

    Now, as to the suggestion that bassinets were available in the front of the plane. Well, before we start getting upset about that, we need to know if it even happened.

  • FQTVLR

    I have a hard time believing that she paid $1000 more for a seat on Lufthansa in order to get a bassinet. She says she chose Lufthansa because it was the only carrier that had bassinets for children the size of her daughter. (You said newborn but she indicated the child is not a newborn.) If she had that much money to spend then why did she not spend a bit more and buy a seat for her infant and use an FAA approved car seat for the flight? It is much safer for the child than a bassinet. I do not think she should get anything back at all. She had other options, including buying a seat for her daughter or flying on a less expensive carrier. She chose this airline and its higher price. The air carrier should not be refunding money for something she had not actually paid for. I have no sympathy for parents who will not purchase a seat for an infant on a long haul flight and then complain when they cannot get a bassinet or similar amenity without charge.

  • Fixed the “newborn” reference. Thanks.

  • Michael__K

    “I don’t see any promise”

    See:

    “an airline representative promised she’d have a bassinet.”

    The OP is not alone. Booking a bassinet and then not receiving it is a common problem, especially on Lufthansa. Other examples:

    http://www.tripadvisor.Com/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k7558075-Lufthansa_changed_bassinet_seat_reservation_without_notice-Air_Travel.html

    http://www.jetlagandmayhem.Com/help-me-fly/airlines/other-airlines/longhaul-with-lufthansa-and-2-kids-in-tow/

    http://www.complaintsboard.Com/complaints/lufthansa-oregon-c126069.html

    …not to mention:

    Another mother with a baby on the same flight had the same problem – they had promised her that a bassinet was reserved, and it wasn’t

    Of course all the airline contracts disclaim any responsibility for honoring assigned seat reservations.

  • $16635417

    Promises aside, and looking at the poll question, I have to ask… do we know the business class person didn’t arrive at the airport first?

    In my travel agent days, I recall a special code to enter in the reservation to reserve a bassinet. I wouldn’t be surprised if that option didn’t show on Orbitz. This code actually is reflected on the itinerary if entered properly.

  • BillCCC

    This is the first time that I have said this and I hope that it is the last but the poll question is completely idiotic. Where in the story did it say that only business class passengers received bassinets or that they receive priority?

    I also cringe when you write this — “free of charge.”.

  • Mike Z

    Did she purchase an extra ticket (seat) for the flight because she was expecting the bassinet? Otherwise she would have held the baby on her lap? if she was promised a bassinet and because of this, she bought an extra seat, then she absolutely deserves a refund of that seat.
    If she purchased tickets on the airline which cost more than another airline because of the promise, then I also believe she deserves a refund of the difference.
    in either case, she spent more money than she would have otherwise based on the promise of the bassinet. if the airline could not deliver, then it doesn’t deserve to keep the extra funds it charged her.

    Though i have to wonder about someone who would pay $1,000 extra for the promise of a bassinet when she could just go buy one to use on any carrier and probably pay less than $100 extra.

  • John Baker

    Sorry … she lost me at she “made her reservations on Orbitz.” If she made them directly with the airline, I’d agree that something is amiss but she didn’t. If she talked truly to an “airline representative” prior to booking, why didn’t she make the reservation with them directly instead of going to Orbitz?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I went to Lufthansa’s website to book a flight with an infant. It does NOT even allow you to book a seat for a child under 2 YO because it assumes that the child is a lap child (you need to select the age of 3 in order to book a seat). There was nothing during the online booking process where you could reserve a bassinet; therefore, I don’t see how you can book a bassinet and have it reserved for your child. However, what I found “Please be aware that the number of seats with cots is limited.”

    It is my guess that you to call Lufthansa or your brick & mortar travel agent to flag your reservation with a code which reflect that you are requesting a bassinet.

    Unless the OP had something in writing or a recording of the call, I have a hard time believing “an airline representative promised she’d have a bassinet.” especially when there is a limited number of bassinets on a flight and there is no way to reserve to them.

    Based upon my several years of clients interactions: 1) people only want to hear what they want to hear or 2) they interpret what they hear to what they want. I can’t tell you how many times that I had a sales representative or a client service representative told the client correctly (have it on tape or I was there) and the client only listened to part of it.

  • sirwired

    No, she’s not going to get a refund for what she says was paid extra to fly Lufthansa. But I think she’s due something more than 5,000 miles too.

    On her sprint to go from plane to plane: I will note that “sufficient time to make your connection” does not mean you are going to like it. All the airline promises is that if everything goes perfectly, you’ll have sufficient time to get from gate to gate, and they’ll re-book you at their expense if you don’t. It does not mean that you will make your flight if your plane runs late, if the plane takes too long to unload, if customs hassles you, if you need to make a diaper-changing-break, etc. It’s up to the traveler to go: “XX minutes to make a connection coming off an international flight!?!? I think I’ll book a later connection!”

  • Mike Z

    Maybe the airline site was far more expensive? It really doesn’t matter as she said the airline representative made the promise.

  • MarkKelling

    There are a limited number of bassinets on the planes. Some of the long haul LH planes do not have any bassinets at all. Some have bassinets only in business class. They require a bulkhead seat where the bassinet is attached to the bulkhead in front of the seated passenger.

    If the bassinet was that important to the LW, why was her reservation made through a third party instead of directly with LH? It may not have made any difference since the passenger must call LH to make the request for the bassinet, but cutting out one layer may have helped. Also, it is not clear from the LH webpage exactly what reserving the bassinet means. Do they guarantee one when you call, as the LW believes was done, or do they only note that you would like one and then they are assigned fist come first served at boarding time? Also, did the LW end up in seats that would even allow for the bassinet or, because she booked through Orbitz, did her family get stuck somewhere else in less desirable seats on the plane?

    And there was no $1,000 “fee” for the bassinet. The LW chose to fly a more expensive airline, plain and simple. Many people choose an airline based on the amenities, however few there are that still get offered, over airlines that do not provide them. Sometimes that means you pay more. But it is in no way a “fee.”

  • MarkKelling

    It was not $1K for a single seat, it was for the whole family.

  • MarkKelling

    The bassinet on LW planes attaches to the bulkhead in front of the seat the parent occupies. There is no extra seat purchased. She probably could have bought an extra seat on some other airline and then brought a car seat for the baby, but depending on the flight may have cost more than the $1K.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree that it makes sense to purchase a seat for a lap child on long-haul flights for safety and comfort. When my son was 16-MO, we took a trip that circumvent the globe and I “purchased” (I cashed in miles for our FC tickets) a seat for our son for this trip. Two segments of our trip were flights on Lufthansa (each flight was approximately 10 hours). LH treated us well on our flights

  • MarkKelling

    “Legal” connection times do seem to keep getting shorter. If you are traveling alone, are seated near the exit door, and have only a light carry on bag, and can sprint and know exactly where your connecting gate is located, these short times might be acceptable. For the rest of us, they are impossible especially if something goes wrong as you noted.

    Unfortunately, many unexperienced travelers blindly accept the 45 minutes in LHR is OK for connection time since the airline is willing to sell them that ticket.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Why would she purchase her ticket on Orbitz?
    Why not purchase her ticket directly from Lufthansa?
    If there is a complaint, for some reason I would think the airlines might be a little more receptive if you booked directly with the airline.
    Any thoughts?

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Many times my Lufthansa flight would arrive in either Munich or Frankfurt and park on the tarmac. Get on a bus, travel about 10-15 minutes, run like a crazy person, wait in line to clear passport control, run like a crazy person again to the gate….

  • Michael__K

    I don’t know of any airline that lets you book a bassinet online. You have to do it over the phone.

    When you call, either they will have an eligible seat (usually bulkhead) and bassinet available for you or they won’t. If they do, they will allow you to reserve it. I have firsthand experience with this process.

    Anyway, your reserved seating (and special meal, etc.) are “promises” that the airlines’ contracts of carriage disclaim any responsibility for.

    If the OP had their call recorded (as if that would do any good at the airport), then wouldn’t you still be claiming that Lufthansa bears no responsibility and wouldn’t you be pointing to the CoC language?

  • John Baker

    Here’s the issue… The narrative suggests that she had the conversation prior to booking… In that case, she may have never reserved one if she didn’t call back… By inserting Orbitz, it confuses the situation… Did she talk to Orbitz or Lufthansa? Did she ever really reserve one?

  • Vox_Rationis13

    +1 The offer / perceived availability of the bassinet is only ONE feature of this airline. This case isn’t any different than someone who booked a certain airline because they liked ONE of its features (eg plane type, personal TV, schedule or whatever). If they don’t get it, they can’t then ask for a refund of the price difference, but may get a token gesture which is exactly what the OP got.

  • John Baker

    But as I read the narrative, she had the conversation BEFORE she booked. If she never called back, did she reserve one? Also, I don’t see someone guaranteeing a bassinet prior to the reservation being made… I can see them saying, if you reserve now we can guarantee it but she didn’t do that because she booked through Orbitz.

  • Michael__K

    Most likely she already completed the booking with Orbitz — and was within the free online cancellation window — when she called Lufthansa.

  • Mike Z

    I’ll agree that if she spoke with the airline rep before she made the booking and not after then she is SOL and would be lucky to even get the 5k miles. I just simply can’t see someone reserving something ebfore a booking though. It just does not make sense. Now, if the rep had told her “we have plenty” then the airline once again would be at fault.
    I have heard the we have plenty statement more than I care to remember and almost have always been disappointed when they really didn’t have more than enough. In most cas it was not enough at all.

  • John Baker

    I’d agree with you but she Chris said….

    she paid that more to fly on Lufthansa, as opposed to another carrier, because an airline representative promised she’d have a bassinet

    That lends me to believe that the booking choice was driven by the promise and, therefore, preceded it.

  • Michael__K

    You must have missed this:

    “They are the only airline with bassinets large enough for a child of our daughter’s age”

    She started with Lufthansa because no other airline (at least as far as she knows) would be able to provide a bassinet for her daughter.

  • John Baker

    @mikezupancic:disqus See above… Chris narrative suggests that the choice of carrier was driven by the bassinet promise. The only way that works is if the conversation happens before the booking. At that point, we don’t know if she ever called back.

  • John Baker

    No … but I’d say it supports my point that she was doing the research, and therefore got the promise, prior to booking not after.

  • Michael__K

    Huh? If I *really* wanted a bassinet and I discovered Lufthansa was the only option for my daughter (and Moms learn these things quickly by word of mouth) I would start with Lufthansa even if their fares are higher.

    I don’t understand why some people will contort themselves to assume that every passenger must be a complete imbecile rather than deal with the fact that airlines will sometimes renege on promises especially when their contracts explicitly state that they can renege on those promises– for example when they divert a reserved bassinet from an economy passenger to a business class passenger.

  • pauletteb

    We only have her word that she was “promised” a bassinet, which could very well be a case of selective memory. The “other mother” with the same problem? Sounds like a fictitious entity to shore up her complaint.

  • The Original Joe S

    How didja circumvent the globe? Are you sure you didn’t mean circumcise?

  • cscasi

    I have flown on Lufthansa from DFW to FRA and back several times in business class and I did see the two bassinets on the bulkheads (they could be opened up and used) and on one flight there was one in use. But, the people were flying business class and not economy.
    I cannot say if Lufthansa makes the business class bassinets available to families flying in a lower class or not.

  • JenniferFinger

    Me too, so I haven’t voted as yet. I have to admit that I don’t see why there should be any difference in who gets bassinets for babies, but I can also see the side that says that if you pay more, you should get more amenities than those who don’t.

    That said, if the LW specifically arranged in advance to get a bassinet from Lufthansa, one of their representatives promised her one, and Lufthansa didn’t provide them, then yes, Lufthansa didn’t follow through on its promise and needs to be held accountable for that.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I reserved a bulkhead seat but got tossed out of it for a “service dog.” Service dog is in quotes because this dog barked, growled, and kept circling. This was not a service dog at all. But hey, we can’t say anything because the law always favors the dog.

    I didn’t get anything for being crammed up against the potty in the last row.

  • Michael__K

    And all the other families (and their travel agents) are fabricating their complaints or have selective memories too….

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I think that the business class bassinets are for passengers that purchased a business class seat. If that is not the case then people will purchase an economy seat and move to business class…the airlines will lose revenues and it won’t be fair to the people that paid to sit in business class.

    Even in business class, there are only two bassinets…what if there were three business class mothers with infants?

    I think that the OP was claiming that there are bassinets in economy and they were taken.

    The bottom line is that there is a limited number of bassinets on flights.

  • emanon256

    Most of the Lufthansa long haul flights I have been on don’t have bulkheads in economy, the front row of economy is an exit row, and thus infants are not allowed. The only bulkhead rows are in business class, and bassinets can only go in bulk head rows, so it’s quite possible that the plane can’t accommodate a bassinet in coach.

    My big questions are why did she book through Orbitz if she was so concerned about her reservation? Why not book through Lufthansa directly? And why not confirm with Lufthansa after booking and get an actual confirmation on her reservation? Though that still won’t help if the plane won’t accommodate it.

    If she was willing to pay $1,000 more for a big bassinet, why not just book a seat and bring a car seat, its far safer.

    That said, if she really was confirmed with a bassinet and had it taken away, I was thinking she was due something. Then her comments changed my mind. “There were many other minor problems with the flights” makes me think she has a laundry list and the next comment “The connection that we were assured would be sufficient wasn’t…” makes me think she is a chronic complainer who gets “told” a lot of things that she hasn’t really been told. When I worked in customer service, many people said they were “told” things that were never true, and no one would have told them. And they were never able to say who told them or when. I came to learn that “Told” means it was made up to support their case.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Here is my online transcript with Lufthansa this morning:

    Welcome to the Lufthansa Internet Service Center. My name is Khanyisile. How can I help you with your online flight booking?

    07:41 Do you have bassinets in Economy on flight # LH457?

    07:41 If ‘Yes”, how can you book them?

    16:43 I kindly suggest you contact our Reservations department via telephone and they will be able to assist you with regards to booking a bassinet, if available.

    07:42 Okay but do you have bassinets in economy? Yes or No.

    16:44 Yes, we do have bassinets in Economy Class.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    There are bassinets in economy on Flight LH457 (LAX to FRA) as well as bassinets in business class.

  • Paul Cadario

    The alleged $1000 price difference through buying on Orbitz may have left this woman without a seat guaranteed, and as anyone who flies a lot knows, there are limited bassinette positions, generally at the front of each cabin on Lufthansa. This has nothing to do with the ‘unfairness’ of paying $4000 more for business class, and shouldn’t be framed that way. LH didn’t charge her extra; they didn’t have an extra bassinette available, and like other readers, I find that parts of this story don’t stand up.

  • DavidYoung2

    This whole thing sounds bogus. If you’re in business, why do you need a bassinet? When we flew with my young daughter, Delta had them for bulkhead seats (they clip into the bulkheads.) But when we flew business, there’s no place to connect them.

    Also, the connection between a bassinet and a higher fare is tenuous at best. And they booked higher fares for everyone? It had nothing to do with routing, scheduling or anything else, right? Just the bassinet.

    Sound too fishy to even pursue….

  • Lori Jonkers

    I think he meant ‘circumnavigated’. :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    In fairness, a service dog, unlike a ESA is actually trained and working for the benefit of a disabled person. We humans have off days, why not the dog?

  • The Original Joe S

    I’d suspect you are correct…..

  • emanon256

    LH457 in on a 747, it has a second bulkhead in coach and has 2 spots for bassinets on that bulkhead. The OP was on IAD-FRA, which is an Airbus, the majority of which don’t have a bulkhead in coach that aren’t also the exit row, thus no bassinets in coach.

  • Bill

    Not sure how “business class bassinets” and “economy class bassinets” even gets brought in the poll?
    Did she expect to pay for a economy ticket but because she “reserved a bassinet” and that even if the only ones available were in business class that she should have been given a seat in business class…. or did she expect to be able to use a bassinet in business class, leave her child there and waddle off back to 39C which was the seat she bought?? Very strange story and stranger poll.

  • emanon256

    I suspect the dog Raven experienced was a fake service dog. There are entire websites dedicated to how to make your dog look like one, get fake vests, etc. all with the intention to avoid airline fees and get better seats. It’s along the lines of the rent-a-disabled-person service some companies offer to allow people to skip the lines at Di$ney.

  • emanon256

    OP was on LH419 or LH417, both are typically Airbuses, though sometimes 747s. Only a few Airbuses have bassinet locations in Economy Class, and 747s typically only have 2. I presume that’s why they referred you to reservations.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s reprehensible.

  • emanon256

    Makes me sick, both issues.

    One of many articles on Di$ney:
    http://nypost dot com/2013/05/14/rich-manhattan-moms-hire-handicapped-tour-guides-so-kids-can-cut-lines-at-disney-world/

    Quote from the article: “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

    And the dogs, one of many many sites, though this is more of an expose on it: http://www dot petsadviser dot com/service-animal/service-dog-fraud/

  • MarkKelling

    Don’t you just love auto correct.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    you are correct…rushing this morning to get my son to school.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I was only aware of bassinets in business class on British Airways and Lufthansa that is why I asked Lufthansa if they have bassinets in Economy class. The story was somewhat unclear so I want to confirm if there were bassinets in Economy class.

    The bottom line is that there are very limited number of bassinets in both business and economy class; therefore, you need to call the airline directly to find out their policy about how to get one.

  • bodega3

    From LH’s website:
    On Lufthansa long-haul flights special baby cots are available. Please be aware that the number of seats with cots is limited. The bassinets are suitable for babies up to 14 kg and up to 83 cm in length and are provided free of charge. Night flights are especially suitable for journeys with small children because children can then maintain their usual sleep pattern and get some rest.
    If you are travelling with smaller children, you may take a child restraint system with you.
    When booking your flight please inform our staff or the travel agent that you will be travelling with a baby

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    As a stated above, I just wanted to find out if there are bassinets in economy on LH metal in general not on her specific flight.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    How about those people that faked their disabilities to score seats at the recent World Cup?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    How can an airline divert a bassinet from an economy passenger to a business class passenger? I have seen bassinets on British Airways metal and they are “attached” to the bulkhead. It has been a few years but I only recall seeing hardware on the bulkhead for a specific number of bassinets. How can you take a bassinets from economy and move it to business class if all of the bassinets are already used in business class?

    I doubt it very seriously that a mother with a lie-flat bed set in business class which is plenty of room for both mother and child to sleep to move to an economy seat in order to put her child in a bassinet.

  • emanon256

    So wrong.

  • naoma

    Excuse me!!! What is with a bassinet? Our child traveled from a very young age. I cannot remember a bassinet EVER. What is the deal with this one? Read the rules as to what they are with the Airline. And, then “get over it.” We had a plastic carrier with a handle that she traveled in. It was our own. Maybe they are not even made anymore? How OLD was the child?

  • Michael__K

    The bassinets I’ve seen may look like they are “attached” but can readily be detached and moved to a different bulkhead seat.

    Even if the OP’s flight had lie flat business class seats (which according to Lufthansa won’t be fully rolled out until sometime in 2015), a bassinet with a safety strap is both safer and more comfortable than co-sleeping with an infant in a lie-flat seat.

  • bodega3

    You find bassinets on some international flights, not on our domestic flights.

  • Travelnut

    I reserved a bulkhead seat and got moved for mothers with bassinets. I didn’t get anything for being moved from a quite nice seat that I’d reserved over six months earlier, with no notice, to a middle seat in a row of five for an international flight. That was back when I was not as sophisticated a traveler. I’d say something now. Actually, that is what got me in the habit of checking my flights and seat assignments about once a week, and then daily the week before my flight. Coincidentally, I think it was a flight out of Frankfurt. (on CO)

  • bodega3

    FYI, a bulkhead seat, is not guaranteed for the average flier. These seats can be assigned to those with special needs and you get moved. I always advise my clients of this and sometimes it works for them, sometimes they get moved.

  • bodega3

    And when you do request one, know that something could happen to not get one, so be prepared. Since there is no charge for a bassinet, you are out nothing. Want a guarantee, buy the baby a seat.

  • bodega3

    There is no charge for the bassinet, so if it doesn’t work out, they aren’t out anything. Come prepared. Same with meal requests, on flights that you get one.

  • sunshipballoons

    I’m so confused — this article is not clear at all:

    1. Was the bassinet free or not? (Not Chris’s version of free, but did she pay MORE for the bassient or not?) If not, this concerns me less, although I’d like to see the details of what was promised, because that’s pretty awful to expect something like that for your child on a plane, but then not have it.

    2. Having read the quote about people not being able to get bassinets, where in the world does it say anything about giving them to “business class mommies.” Where did that come from?

    3. She was told, both ways, that she “didn’t have a bassinet reserved.” It seems like the problem was with the recording of her reservation, especially considering that they found her one for the return trip.

  • sunshipballoons

    “If she had that much money to spend then why did she not spend a bit more and buy a seat for her infant and use an FAA approved car seat for the flight?”

    Don’t have kids, do ya? That is a big pain in the rear end. It is way easier to check the carseat (or rent one where you’re going).

  • John Baker

    That’s funny… All three of my kids flew in their car seats (where they were more likely to be comfortable and less fussy) until they could sit up. Never did the infant in lap thing and my kids never really got nasty during flights….

  • sunshipballoons

    I’m not saying that I don’t think she’d want a car seat in the plane. I’m saying that it’s easier if the airline will provide the seat (or bassinet) because then you don’t have to lug the heavy car seat through the airport. (We’ve actually done well with ours in laps, but I get the desire for a cars seat. I’m just saying that if I could have one on the plane without lugging it around the airport, why wouldn’t I prefer that option?)

  • Michael__K

    Even if there is a charge — sometimes you have to pay extra for a bulkhead seat before you can reserve a bassinet — the contract still asserts that the airline can do whatever it wants — and not refund extra charges paid for bulkhead — regardless of what they promised about a bassinet.

  • bodega3

    I have never had a client pay extra for a bulkhead seat on international flights. However, if they were charged, the bassinet is still not guaranteed since there is no fee for it.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Yup. My wife used to work for Di$ney and the GAC passes they used to use were completely abused. Since Di$ney can’t ask for proof of disability, as long as you went in and said, “I have a disability/medical need and require a quieter, less busy, place to wait” you received one.

    It was all over the internet for years…and part of the reason that they have moved to the new system. People now wait, but they don’t have to wait in line.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Yeah, this wasn’t an off day. This dog was obviously not trained in any kind of service…other than the “buy a vest and skip the pet fee” one.

  • IGoEverywhere

    The poll is fine – answer either way. If I “required” a bassinet, then I would do a hell of a lot more than trust an online computer! When you need something special, go to a person that specializes in special; a travel agent. I see absolutely no proof in this article that there was a confirmation, it appears that it was requested, much like I request a wheelchair.
    Now for the connection time in Frankfurt – you booked it, you accepted the layover – live with it.
    Now for seat assignments – it’s easy to do if you know how. I’m sorry to be mean, but all of these situations are common errors that I as an agent love to hear. I think they are funny as my clients don’t seem to have this many issues.

  • bodega3

    The situation regarding disability and not being able to ask is taken advantage of in so many areas that it just makes you want to scream. A pit bull as a service dog? Yeah right.

  • Lindabator

    True – it is on a request basis, and yes, we do have to input the request.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I have to confess ignorance. Emanon explained there there is a market for people to buy fake service dog vests and the like. Amazing.

  • emanon256

    It looks like the article changed since it was originally written.

    1. I think the bassinet was free, but the OP paid $1,000 more to fly Lufthansa because they have bigger bassinets. It appears the OP never called to reserve the bassinet with her reservation, and even used Orbitz to book her flight, not Lufthansa. This AM the article said she called and was told they have bassinets for her infant, it never said she reserved one, it appears the wording has changed.

    2. This morning the article mentioned the OP seeing bassinets in business class and that she assumed they took hers away to give to people who paid more. That segment of the article appears to be gone now, so it no longer makes any sense as to where that came from.

    3. I am still not sure if she reserved one or not.

  • emanon256

    I actually learned this form a woman sitting next to me on an airplane, who was bragging about it. When she went to the rest room her dog became upset and bit my shoe and barked and growled to the point that all the FA’s came over to see what was up. Fortunate the dogs bite was no match for my shoe. (I didn’t kick the dog, I just mean it barely made a dent and they were old crummy shoes anyway).

  • Lindabator

    1 – no fee for these, and they are first come – but the reservation agent makes a note in the record. 2- red herring 3 – obviously never had the record notated, but they had one available on the return, so she could use it (probably untrue about the return – the airlines probably made a note of it, which is why she had one)

  • The Original Joe S

    Once found a site of flubbed SMS auto-corrected. Hilarious. Can’t remember where it was tho…..

  • bodega3

    I wonder if she called LH and asked about the bassinet before buying the ticket on Orbitz, then didn’t call back to have it noted in the PNR. Does Orbitz allow an infant in an international reservation? I know UA required called that information in separately when someone I helped a family member with their online reservation and they were traveling with an infant.

  • emanon256

    This AM the article implied she called LH before booking, then booked on Orbitz. It never stated that she called again after booking, and has been edited and is more confusing now. She could have called after to make the reservation, but all signs point to her not having done so.

    I don’t book on Orbitz, so I am not sure if you can book an infant.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Joe, Joe, Joe – you’ve got to help us out so that we know when you’re being funny and when you’re being serious. (No chocolate, e.g.) It’s obvious to me now that your comment was simply brilliant.

    Disqus needs to enable sarcasm font (backwards italics).

  • bodega3

    Well, I have never seen a place for any SSR entry or OSI entry in an online booking site. Sounds like she missed a step.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    NSFW. You’re welcome.

    http://www(.)damnyouautocorrect(.)com/

    http://www(.)buzzfeed(.)com/jessicamisener/the-30-most-hilarious-autocorrect-struggles-ever#crksda

  • bodega3

    I am a huge fan of Canine Companions for Independence. They are trying to get something in the works regarding the use of phony vests. I know someone who drives a city bus and he get pit bulls in phony vests boarding, yet he can’t do anything about it. Just wait until someone gets hurt and sadly, it will probably be a child.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Okay, everyone here is speculating here, including you. I understand your frustration with people thinking the worst in these cases and have a suggestion for you in this specific case.

    You know how @Christopher Elliott often has a few bullet points at the end of his articles on how to avoid or make the best of situations highlighted in the articles? You’ve stated that you have firsthand experience here. Why not create a few bullet points and ask CE to edit his article to include those bullet points? There have been a few excellent suggestions offered by the TAs on this forums – combine those with your first-person experience(s) and you might be able to help the next parent trying to negotiate the tricky world of traveling with children.

    Just a thought. Please accept it with the positive intentions offered.

  • Annie M

    Why didn’t she book directly with Luftansa instead of through Orbitz? This makes absolutely no sense that she had all this info and booked through a third party. Had she called the airline directly and boomed through them maybe she would have had a right answer given to her AND a bassinet noted on her record. You may not get that unless you book directly. When one has special needs they should always book directly.

    A good travel agent would have fold her if the connection time was adequate. Sometimes this is what happens when you do it yourself but really have an experts opinion.

    And what time did she arrive at the airport? Early enough to be earmarked for one of the few bassinets? There are too many unclear pieces of this story.

  • Annie M

    Thats what you get by booking through a third party. Why on earth she used Orbitz instead of booking directly with Lufthansa makes no sense.

  • Michael__K

    I’d be happy to oblige if I could but unfortunately I don’t see any magic bullet points here.

    Basically this is one of many examples of a “free” perk that an airline can advertise and “promise”, but there is (AFAIK) no confirmation number or guarantee behind the promise. Ultimately, passengers are unprotected and entirely at the mercy of the airline’s goodwill to fulfill this sort of promise.

    I can offer a separate lap-infant booking tip that I picked up: when confirming seats, call and double check that your chosen seat has suitable oxygen masks. On many planes, only about half the aircraft has extra oxygen masks suitable for lap infants. Yet the online booking and seat selection tools generally aren’t smart enough to block you from selecting seats that don’t. I discovered this issue the hard way when my family lost our seats that were initially booked together and suddenly — within a week of the flight — we were all in middle seats in separate rows. When I called to inquire they explained that our original seats were taken away automatically by some backend process because of the oxygen mask issue.

  • Joe

    I had to read the article a few times and the comments section as well to figure out what was going on. If I absolutely required a bassinet, I would do a lot more than trust a third-party online booking and a conversation with an airline representative with no paper trail. I’d first call the airline directly and then memorialize the agreement in writing long before the trip, and second confirm at check-in (or when I arrived at the airport) with an agent showing the print out of the arrangement with the airline for the bassinet. If that’s not something the airline is prepared to do at a price, insisting that they are on a first come, first served basis (but really, what airline isn’t willing to sell you an extra service in this world of a la carte pricing?), perhaps book with an airline that can make a guarantee, in writing, or take your chances. If you do the latter, don’t complain if the dice don’t turn up your way.

  • bodega3

    Tell us which airline guarantees the bassinet? That would be a service for those reading here. A bassinet usually is based on first come first serve as no fee is involved. They try to accommodate passengers, but if you have 6 bassinets available and 12 infants on that flight, then what?

  • mythsayer

    No…. Anyone who has done this process knows what happened. She almost certainly extracted the promise from the airline before and after she booked. She was positive she had a booking for it… That means, in my mind, and in anyone else’s’ who has reserved bassinets, that she paid AND had a reservation for one. As Michael said, they are bulkhead seats. Betcha anything she had her bulkhead seat but they had no bassinet. It happens all the time.

  • mythsayer

    I believe her. I traveled with a bassinet once and called bunches of times to make sure they’d have one for me bc it’s so common for them to reserve you one and then say “ooops!” They put the bassinet on your reservation. And on your boarding pass. And then they just don’t have one when you get in the plane.

  • mythsayer

    That’s not the point. They put the bassinet on your reservation. I was able to see it on my flight from time of booking through printing my passes. It has to do with who reserves first, not who checks in first. The way I see it, if it’s on my reservation, and I suspect it was on hers, she’s due that bassinet.

  • mythsayer

    You don’t need to make a direct reservation. You can make it through orbitz and then just call to add the bassinet. And all you travel agents should know she most likely had to call to add the baby bc it was an international flight. She probably had to call to pay the taxes.

  • mythsayer

    I just want to point something out: she wrote “another mother was promised a bassinet WAS RESERVED”… And then it wasn’t available. That completely implied that she in fact spoke with the airline AFTER booking and that the bassinet was added to the reservation and that she could actually see it on her reservation. That’s how it worked for me (delta though).

  • Bill___A

    There shouldn’t be babies in business class, period. People pay a premium for the peace and quiet.
    And before the next 500 whiners make comments about it. I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who flies in business class and is disturbed by a baby should get compensated.
    You simply can’t sell something as full of peace and quiet and then allow the “noise” in.

  • $16635417

    I was questioning the point of the poll question. I don’t recall reading anything about it going to a business class customer, other than Chris’ speculation. (It’s been hours since I read the story and don’t wish to re-read.)

    As I was curious, I looked up info on bassinets online and while the agent may have confirmed the request, it’s only that..a request. Also the airline tends to give out bassinets to the youngest babies first according to several sources.

  • Travelnut

    Marry me Bill! LOL.

  • Travelnut

    Yes, I found that out the hard way. I don’t have children and it never occurred to me.

  • bodega3

    Ooops. sorry Charlie, we had two on our last flight and they were ours :-)

  • Michael__K

    When a Delta agent advised my wife she needed to pay extra for a preferred seat to reserve a bassinet they sure presented it like a fee for a service.

    And that’s my whole issue here — how agents routinely present it. If they made it clear that what you are about to “reserve” and “confirm” is completely unguaranteed and might even be diverted to a higher status passenger then people could debate whether that’s fair but at least passengers like Ms. Centrone would have the facts and know what they are dealing with before they make their purchase decisions.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    If she booked her tickets through Orbitz then Lufthansa can’t change the reservation until the day of travel that is my understanding which could be incorrect. I used to work for a company where I had to make reservations through our company’s travel agency, the corporate travel division of Expedia. A few times, I needed to make a change and I called the airline directly and was told that I had to go thru Expedia or wait until I arrived at the airport. The airline said “we can’t change a reservation that is made through a travel agent, etc.”.

    If the above is true then how can the OP blame Lufthansa when she made the reservation through Orbitz?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “This morning the article mentioned the OP seeing bassinets in business class and that she assumed they took hers away to give to people who paid more.”

    If the OP just took a minute to look at the hardware configuration of a bassinets she would have discovered: 1) they are located only in the bulkhead rows (which is typical one bulkhead for business class and one bulkhead for economy) and 2) there is hardware for the bassinet…it is not like they removed one from economy and moved it to business class.

    If the OP took some time to research at the various forums for traveling with infants, toddlers, children, etc, she would have discovered that bassinets are limited.

  • y_p_w

    She probably paid more for the seat to hold the bassinet. I’m guessing her other option was the baby as a lap child. Last I heard, most international lap child fares are maybe 10% of an adult fare.

  • y_p_w

    Possibly $1000 more to get the seat for the bassinet, as opposed to ticketing the baby as a lap child.

  • y_p_w

    That the families in business class seemingly had priority regarding the distribution of the bassinets that were available. That’s how I read it. I’m guessing the bassinets were the same regardless of whether they were attached to business-class or coach seats.

  • y_p_w

    My guess about the “$1000” is that would be the difference between buying a seat for the bassinet and ticketing the baby as a lap child.

  • y_p_w

    Again, I’m thinking that the $1000 that she’s claiming was the difference between the price of the seat (for the bassinet) as opposed to having the kid ticketed as a lap infant. My dad used to be a travel agent, and he did a lot of these bookings.

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah, well flashbulbs [remember those?] are brilliant before they are dark and dull…..

    Chocolate: lady wanted a double scoop cone of chocolate and another flavor. They had every flavor but chocolate. They tried politely to explain to her that there was no chocolate, but she was obtuse. You might be familiar with that vignette. Of course, I can’t post it HERE in its unabridged entirety, because someone might become matriculated over it….

  • bodega3

    A change is different than a request. The carrier can put in the SSR message, as could Orbitz, but you probably have to call Orbitz to have it done as I haven’t ever seen a place for supplement service requests on any website for airline tickets.

  • bodega3

    Or the fare on LH vs another carrier was higher and offered the bassinet. Or the over all cost for the family was $1000 higher to go with LH.

  • bodega3

    I use a GDS and we can do it all in one PNR. There is an infant entry. Very easy. Then we do the SSR and they are all set with instructions to be at the airport at least 3 hours prior (international carriers don’t open up much before the 3 hour checkin time at SFO) as the bassinet is on a first come, first serve basis.

  • bodega3

    From DL’s website:

    Bassinets

    Onboard bassinets, also known as SkyCots, are available free of charge on equipped aircraft for some international flights. SkyCots can be requested, but cannot be guaranteed.

    Infants must weigh 20 pounds or less and be no longer than 26 inches in length.

    There is a limit of two SkyCots per aircraft.

    SkyCots may be subject to weight restrictions. Advise customer to inquire at boarding gate as limits vary according to type of SkyCot.

    Infants must be held during takeoff and landing.

    SkyCots are:

    Wall mounted at bulkhead seats.

    Made of vinyl and net.

    28L x 14W x 8 H (in inches).

  • bodega3

    There aren’t many onboard and if something happened to one on a prior flight, that might not get noted for assignment. Things do happen.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “How can an airline divert a bassinet…” I was referring to airlines in general not Lufthansa. British Airways had lie-flat seats in business for more than 10 years (there were on our flights back in 2005).

    In regards to Lufthansa, they currently have two planes with lie-flat seats:

    1. 747-8 Version 1 which has 92 flat bed seats in business class
    2. 747-8 Version 2 which has 80 flat bed seats in business class

    The 747-8 Version 1 is the metal for flight # LH457 that flies between LAX and FRA. I can’t speak what is the metal for other LH flights from the US to FRA.

    I know that 747-400 (their old metal) do not have flat bed seats yet.

  • Michael__K

    That web page didn’t exist in 2012. Their robots.txt file blocked web.archive.Org from drilling down to capture the pages they displayed then.

    If agents are telling a different story that is also a problem.

  • y_p_w

    I started rethinking this when I realized that aircraft bassinets are attached to bulkheads. Not bad either if the photos are accurate. They even have clips/straps to secure the child, although my kid probably wouldn’t stand for them at that age.

  • bodega3

    There is NO fee for a bassinet. She probably called to ask about the bassinet, then made the reservation with Orbitz but didn’t call back to the carrier to get the SSR added. Again, even with an SSR, it is a request only, not a guarantee. There are only a few bassinets per flight and if there are more babies than bassinets, someone will go without, so be prepared.

  • Bill___A

    I’m not surprised that you would do this, nor am I surprised that you would hasten to bring it up.
    On many flights, there are enough annoying adults that actually many of the babies are better behaved.

  • Joe

    I don’t know of any airlines that offer reserved bassinets (I’ve never needed them as a single male with no children); my comment was more to the point that I would do everything possible to ensure I stood the best chance of getting one. For example, researching an upcoming trip through Milan recently, I noticed that there were bassinets offered in the main cabin. If I really needed one of them, I would call the airline reservations line and book the seat immediately facing the bassinet and reinforce my point that I would need to take advantage of the bassinet so a note gets added. A week before the trip I would follow up by email so at least there’s a paper trail, and when checking in at the airport reiterate the need for one. I don’t know if there is really anything one can do about a “free” product offered on a FCFS basis, but I think being proactive is a better alternative to just rolling the dice.

  • bodega3

    Yes, if you book online, you call and get the ‘request’ into your PNR, since you can’t do that online, which I can do in my GDS for clients even before I ticket. Then get to the airport early. Know the allowed checkin time and be johnny on the spot.

  • bodega3

    Yes, many adults are worst than any child on a plane. I don’t like those who think that business and first are for adults only. Children can behave in any cabin….that is the responsibility of the adult(s) accompanying them to make sure they do. I am just as annoyed in coach as in business with unruly passengers. Our family travels in business/first when possible.

  • JewelEyed

    Why is it only sad if it’s a child? I’m pretty sure it would be horrifying and sad and terrible no matter who got hurt unless it was the lying, d-bag owner of the dog.

  • bodega3

    I didn’t say it was sad if it’s a child. I said it sadly would probably be a child. Any attack is horrific.

  • sunshipballoons

    As others have explained, it seems clear she did not pay more for the bassinet.

  • y_p_w

    It might be buried somewhere, but I did back off my original thought that she paid for a seat to get access to a bassinet.

  • LJBROCK

    I was waiting for someone to say this…took long enough! ha!

  • Bill___A

    As long as no one uses a travel agent to book the honeymoon:)

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Nobody’s trying to cheat anyone here, an airline can barely load enough meals for a flight, never mind the special stuff like a bassinet. In all my years of flying, I’ve never seen one hooked up to the bulkhead. Airlines have a billion things to keep track of, something that is used so seldom … well, they probably coudn’t even find one to send out to the plane. Airlines don’t consider this special stuff a priority. Why? Because they don’t have to, they are airlines!

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