A 13 hour flight.  Five young children. And strangers seated next to them. Welcome to every parent’s flying nightmare.

This is what happened to Sydney mum Peta Healy and her family after Qantas unexpectedly changed their seats, leaving their young children sitting alone on the long haul flight.

Eight months ago, Peta and her extended family booked a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles for a dream holiday. After paying more than $1500 to ensure premium seats with extra leg room, Peta recently logged in to double check the flight, which flies out tomorrow (October 12). She was completely stunned to discover that her seat had unexpectedly changed.

Her new seat isn’t anywhere near the premium area. Her new seat offers no extra leg room. And, quite surprisingly, her new seat is nowhere near her young children.

What went wrong?

Due to a strange loophole in the Qantas system, Peta’s seat requests were wiped out completely. Peta headed to Facebook to share her concern:


What about the kids?

Let’s push past the stress that this puts on the parents for a moment and focus on the kids, shall we? I can’t even begin to imagine how scary this could be for them. Flying, after all, isn’t always a smooth ride, especially an overnight 13-hour ride.

I’ve done several long haul flights from Australia to Canada (and somehow have lived to tell the tale), and it can be difficult. There can be tears. And tummy sickness. There can be dropped crayons only mummy can reach. And packaged food that only mummy can open. There can be numerous wee breaks (or accidentally peeing on the seat).

And there can be anxiety, especially during take off and landing.

Not having mummy there to squeeze their hands and remind them that it’s okay, that those scary sounds are normal, that we will be back on ground soon, would be so awful for them. And it would break any parent’s heart too.

UPDATE: Qantas changes mind

Peta has since informed Mum Central that Qantas have now “admitted liability” and “are working towards a resolution. ”

They won’t put us back in our seats but hopefully we can still get a good outcome,” she tells us.

At this stage, Peta will be seated with her children (thank goodness!). But the extended family remain scattered throughout the plane.

We are so relieved to hear that Qantas have had a (minor) change of heart. Because no child should go through a long haul flight without their parents by their side. Even if they aren’t Gold or Platinum Premium Flyers.

For more information on flying with kids, check out our 20 tips on airplane travel with tots. 


Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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