Here it is: The worst airline seat ever! (Thanks, Aer Lingus)

Here is the Worst airline seat ever

Have you ever wondered what the worst airline seat in the history of modern-day commercial flight looks like? Well, wonder no more! Aer Lingus recently assigned Matt Madrigal to the worst airline seat ever. Hands down.

For his entire transatlantic flight to Dublin, Madrigal endured the dirty “seat” with no cushion and exposed metal.

Ouch!

Now his mom is furious with Aer Lingus’ treatment of her son. And she wants to know if the Elliott Advocacy team can help.

This case underscores the importance of learning how to self-advocate in real time. This concept is the foundation of Elliott Advocacy. If you’re presented with a wholly unacceptable situation, it’s critical to voice those concerns at the time. If you don’t, you may endure unnecessary, unpleasant conditions that should have — and could have — been corrected immediately.

Flying Aer Lingus in the worst airline seat ever

“The entire flight to Ireland, Aer Lingus made my son sit in the worst airline seat I’ve ever seen.” Janet Madrigal reported. “He sent me a picture of his seat. I had to ask him what the picture was — it didn’t even look like an airline seat.”

If you’re a regular reader of our site, then you know we don’t take third-party cases. But, even with that policy in place, we continue to receive a steady stream of requests for help from helicopter parents.

Trying to advocate cases through a mom or a dad only complicates matters. We often discover that in their haste to defend their offspring, parents have blurred the facts. Or have missed critical components that can change the way our advocacy team approaches the case. For these reasons, we ask parents to have the adult child resubmit their very own request. In most cases, we don’t ever hear from these “children.”

In this situation, though, I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to see a photo of the worst airline seat — ever. But I guessed that this may just be an overprotective mama bear defending her baby boy. I thought that she might be seeing this horrible airline seat through slightly biased eyes.

I was wrong.

Is this really an Aer Lingus passenger seat?

Here'e the worst airline seat ever. It's on Aer Lingus. Michelle Couch-Friedman, author.
This is definitely the worst airline seat I’ve ever seen

At first, I had trouble figuring out the photo that Janet Madrigal sent me. But as my eyes focused, I had to agree with her. Aer Lingus did give her son the worst airline seat ever!

His assigned seat was just the shell of a seat — with a missing cushion and dirty plastic. I struggled to figure out how Aer Lingus could have allowed one of its passengers to endure this uncomfortable, monstrosity posing as an airline seat.

I asked Janet Madrigal if her son had complained at the time. She explained:

He told me that the flight was boarding late and there was a bunch of ‘over-served’ policeman going to the St. Patty’s Day parade abroad. He didn’t want to delay the flight any further and so he ‘took one for the team.’ He pulled some pillows down and made the best of it. He received a $50 voucher for Aer Lingus- which is in my opinion not acceptable.

Took one for the team? No one should have to take this one for the team. Her son, an inexperienced traveler, failed to understand the unacceptable nature of his situation. I joined Janet Madrigal in her outrage for her son and agreed that the $50 voucher was insufficient compensation.

But it was time to double check all the facts with Matthew Madrigal — the man who had been assigned the worst airline seat ever!

He did sit in the worst airline seat ever — the whole way to Dublin

I contacted Matthew Madrigal to find out what exactly happened onboard this Aer Lingus flight. I was particularly interested in finding out how the flight attendants explained his horrendous seating arrangement. He reported:

The flight was two days previous to Saint Patrick’s Day, so naturally, the plane was full of intoxicated patrons. I asked the flight attendant what was going on with my seat when we were boarding. She asked me to sit in it until everyone was aboard and settled. Soon after everyone was on, I asked the flight attendant again. She told me she would get back to me. She never did. Once we took off, I could see I had no other option but to sit in that seat. There were no empty seats. Because the intoxicated patrons were extremely loud and disrespectful, the flight attendants were flustered.

In his attempt to be polite and easy-going, Madrigal had doomed himself to that uncushioned seat. If he had made his complaint firmly known on the ground, Aer Lingus would have been forced to fix the situation. Once the flight became airborne, the Aer Lingus flight attendants had no way to address this bizarre problem.

Madrigal’s story recalled another awful airline seat case that our advocacy team tried to tackle recently. In that situation, JetBlue forced Sam Cristol to partially share his own airline seat with the man beside him. That man didn’t fit in his own seat and overflowed into Cristol’s. Unfortunately, Cristol also waited until his cross-country flight was already in the air before asking for assistance from the flight attendants. JetBlue placed a value for his inconvenience at $100 in the form of a voucher. And JetBlue lost a loyal customer in the end.

Aer Lingus responds

In this case, Madrigal (Or, I suspect, his mom did) had already used Elliott Advocacy’s company contacts for Aer Lingus and requested compensation.

The response from Aer Lingus was underwhelming.

Please accept my sincere apology for Aer Lingus not having met your expectations. I am very sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment resulting from your damaged seat on the flight.

Our maintenance crews regularly inspect aircraft to ensure onboard items such as seats, meal trays, entertainment systems, etc. are in working order. While ground time may limit their ability to inspect every item, normally, guests experiencing difficulties in-flight on the previous sector would inform cabin crew who in turn would report such items to the maintenance teams and repair would be made prior to departure. A copy of your comments will be forwarded to our Head office in Dublin for their review and internal handling.

While we cannot accede to your request for compensation, an e-voucher in the amount of $50.00, will be sent out under separate cover, as our gesture of goodwill.

A gesture of goodwill? Aer Lingus forced Madrigal to sit in the shell of an airline seat for 7 hours. He paid $658 for this roundtrip flight from Chicago to Dublin. During half of that journey, Aer Lingus did not provide him with an acceptable airline seat by any standards. This response did not sit right with me. I wondered if anyone at Aer Lingus had looked at the photo.

Aer Lingus responds again

European law protects air travelers in a much more comprehensive way than US law. The EU 261 forces European airlines to compensate travelers who they involuntarily downgrade on flights to and from Europe. This compensation is at a rate of 75 percent of the one-way fare for a trip of this length.

Although the regulation (Here’s the EU 261 in its entirety) does not address this particular scenario, I felt that we could make a case that Aer Lingus had downgraded Madrigal to a sub-par airline seat category.

So I contacted Aer Lingus on Madrigal’s behalf and forwarded the photo of the worst airline seat I’ve ever seen. I requested that the airline compensate Madrigal further for this unusual circumstance.

After taking a look at that photo, the executives at Aer Lingus reconsidered Madrigal’s case. The airline offered him a $500 voucher on top of the previously offered $50. Madrigal is pleased with this resolution, and in the future, he will undoubtedly make sure that any unacceptable situations are resolved before his flight leaves the ground.

Is this the worst airline seat you've ever seen on a commercial flight?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

This site is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

This site is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

This site is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

This site is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

This site is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

This site is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

This site is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

This site is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

This site is underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

This site is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

This site is underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

This site is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

This site is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

This site is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

This site is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

This site is underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

This site is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

This site is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

This site is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

This site is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.