UK Digital Minister Margot James has vowed to crack down on "exploitative algorithms" used by airlines that deliberately split up families' seat assignments if they did not pay for pre-assigned seats; James says that the airlines used these algorithms to coerce families into paying for pre-assigned seating.
According to James, the algorithms did not distribute seat-assignments randomly — rather, they ensured that people with the same surname were seated apart from one another. The practice is most commonly ascribed to Ryanair — an airline notorious for abusing, coercing and deceiving passengers — but has been observed with other airlines as well.
As The Independent reported earlier this year, splitting up passengers could hinder safe and rapid evacuations, according to a report produced by the Royal Aeronautical Society Flight Operations Group (FOG).
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The report, entitled Emergency Evacuation of Commercial Passenger Aeroplanes, emphasised the importance of family members being seated together in an emergency.
It lists "Passenger seat allocation" as one its 17 recommendations to improve aircraft evacuations: "Operators should not charge for family members to sit together.
Airlines face crack down on use of 'exploitative' algorithm that splits up families on flights [Helen Coffey/Independent]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Matthew Hurst, CC-BY-SA)