American Airlines Passenger Refuses To Fly Economy Then Misses Their Child’s Birth

An American Airlines passenger has missed the birth of his child by refusing to fly in economy class. Having booked and paid for a business class seat, the passenger found at the gate it had been given away. Despite being offered an economy seat, he opted to instead wait until the following day for a J class placement, and missed the birth of his daughter as a result.

American Airlines
An American Airlines passenger missed the birth of his child after refusing an economy seat. Photo: American Airlines

There are some things you never want to miss

There are a few things in life that you’d do anything not to miss. Your kid’s graduation, your best friend’s wedding, the first flight of the Boeing 777X… well, perhaps that last one is just me. Wherever your priorities lie, the birth of your child has to rank right up there with one of those things you’d pull out all the stops to be present for. At least, we’d like to think so.

But what if being at the birth of your baby meant you had to, shock horror, fly economy? Would you take that seat, or risk it all to ensure you got the business class seat that you’d paid for?

I know what (I hope) my husband would have chosen, but perhaps some people’s perspective is a little different. Some people like this poster on FlyerTalk this week.

American Airlines gave away his J class seat

Corporate666 took to the FlyerTalk forums to ask for advice on what to do after his booked J class seat was given away to another passenger. He was wondering if he’d be due compensation for the inconvenience of taking a later flight.

American Airlines business class
The passenger got bumped from his business class seat. Photo: American Airlines

His post explained the story. Here’s an abbreviated version.

“I booked a flight from BOS->ORD->NRT->PUS a few weeks back. I arrived at BOS and the flight was delayed … Me and several passengers ran to our next gate … where they told me my seat had been given away because they thought I wasn’t coming. They offered to put me in economy.

“I was quite upset … the lady was quite curt and said they could rebook me 2 days later or I can take the economy seat … They rebooked me on a flight to DFW and a flight to NRT the next morning. They told me they were going to put me in first all the way.

“I ended up arriving in PUS 24 hours after I was supposed to, and missed the birth of my daughter. Not happy.”

The passenger in question was keen to pick the brains of the FlyerTalk regulars to see if he could claim any compensation from American Airlines. However, the other forum members were more interested in something else about his story.

Missed the birth of his child

While Corporate666 was probably hoping for some practical advice about his situation, perhaps even some sympathy, FlyerTalk members were keen to understand what the heck this man was thinking.

“Hold up – you missed the birth of your daughter because you didn’t take the offered Y seat on a flight to which you showed up late (understanding that you were delayed) and you want compensation from AA for delaying you a day??”

Missed the birth of his baby
Would you miss the birth of your baby for J class? Photo: Unsplash

The first response to his question really encapsulated everything we were all thinking at the time. If, as seems to be the case, his child’s birth was imminent, why on earth would he risk missing such an important occasion for the sake of a business class seat?

“You should have taken the seat in Y and followed up for compensation later. That’s all I have to offer – it’s your own fault per your story you missed the auspicious occasion,” the commenter wrapped up.

I think we can all agree that, given the importance of the situation, flying coach would have been a more prudent decision than giving up the flight entirely. Sure, AA should not have given away his J class seat, particularly since he was booked in right through to his final destination, but this does seem something of a drastic action to take when there’s a woman in labor on the other side of the world.

More than meets the eye?

While we can all give this poor passenger a bit of stick for missing the birth of his daughter, there does seem to be more to the story than meets the eye. In follow up posts, the man goes on to explain that he has some physical needs that mean a long flight in economy would be very painful for him.

It also seems that the birth of his daughter was not something he knew about at the time. Without going into details, he says that the birth happened while he was in the air the following day, due to a ‘medical emergency’.

American Airlines can’t really be blamed for him missing this important event, but similarly, they are in the wrong for awarding his paid for business class seat to someone else, when their own systems should have let them know he was on his way.

What do you think? What would you give up for your business class seat?