The smog has gotten worse here in Moscow, so we've decided to move up my and Natasha's trip to the U.S. to await the arrival of #2. We're headed out of here next week. Unfortunately, the only direct flight from Moscow to Washington on an American carrier is a United flight.
I loathe United Airlines.
I loathe them with the fervor of 500-some burning forest fires. Their flight attendants are, hands down, the rudest I have ever encountered. My luggage almost never gets to where it needs to go (like that one awesome time when my bags, coming from Armenia, somehow ended up in Manchester, England, instead of in DC). When I call their customer service line to find out whether they've located my bags, I get an automated message saying that my request is being processed - only to find out days later, after actually getting a real person on the line, that there is actually no record of my request. Plus, after all that crappy service, they have the nerve charge for everything but toilet paper. (And I wouldn't be all that surprised if, on my next flight, there were a Russian port-a-potty money collector outside the WC door, handing out tiny squares of generic single-ply at 15 rubles a pop.)
So when we started out trying to get seat assignments on this particular United flight, I wasn't that optimistic.
We wanted bulkhead seats so that we could get a bassinet for Natasha. Our travel office called United and was told by an agent (let's call him "Agent A") that the bulkhead seats were reserved for Economy Plus passengers. Did we want to pay the extra money for the upgrade? At that point, no, we did not want to pay extra money just so that we could sit in the only place on the plane that could house the baby bassinet. It was the principle of the thing. (And don't even get me started on the sham that is Economy Plus).
A little later ...
OK, principles, schminciples. We called United to upgrade to Economy Plus and attempt to reserve bulkhead seats. No dice. Agent B told us that the bulkhead on our flight was actually an exit row, so babies and enormously pregnant women could not be seated there.
Being fully aware of the lack of consistency among United booking agents, we called back. Agent C, speaking from a call center somewhere in India, informed us that the bulkhead row (and let's not forget that it's an exit row) was actually reserved for disabled passengers only. Jeremy argued that his wife would not exactly be fully able-bodied, given the huge belly and the squirmy infant. Agent C said, "Oh, she's pregnant? No problem. And no, you don't have to upgrade to Economy Plus to get the seats." So now we have seats on the bulkhead and a reserved bassinet. I know, having flown United way too many times in the past, that the likelihood of us actually retaining those seats and getting the promised bassinet are probably only about 50 percent. But we like Agent C. Even if she works for an evil, evil airline.