Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Every time you book a flight, you know the airline's going to play with you.

It'll tantalize you with a seat map and dangle a seat by a window or one toe-length of extra legroom. For a price.

You'll be tempted. You might, though, resist. That way, you just take your chances that you and your traveling companion will still be seated together.

But sometimes, it doesn't happen.

Now some travelers are accusing an airline of deliberately keeping them apart because they didn't pay extra for an assigned seat.

That airline is famed charmer of the skies, Ryanair.

It's a budget airline, so it asks you to pay for most things. You know, like United or American.

Yet some passengers believe that even though there are plenty of seats on a flight, Ryanair is thumbing its nose at those who don't pay in advance for a specific seat.

For example this, from Mark Cusworth: "Seriously @Ryanair ?? check in the same time, im seat 7 while you put my wife in seat 33. Both middle seats just to rub it it. Disgusting."

Or this from disgruntled Cydney Barrows: "Checked in for @Ryanair flight home & given 2 seats 10rows apart!#seatingscam.On the flight out EVERYONE had the same thing unless you pay!"

The Telegraph reports that its digital editor Oliver Smith traveled on Ryanair with a couple that were split up, even though one of them had an empty seat next to them.

The mere idea of paying for assigned seats is relatively recent. Decency used to prevail before airlines discovered the lure of lucre. Check-in staff would be at pains to seat you as happily as they could and even offer you a better seat if one happened to be available.

Now, the idea of charm being the goal has been replaced by harm to the soul.

I contacted Ryanair to learn whether the airline whose CEO once mused that he might charge customers to use the toilets on flights had this level of meanness in its heart.

A company spokesman told me that the allegations are "untrue," as the process is entirely random.

He said the airline has a 95 percent load factor. There really aren't that many empty seats. Which led him to this tantalizing tease: "Therefore, we advise customers who wish to sit with their traveling companions to purchase allocated seats, which start from 2 Euros."

The problem with the idea that the airline is deliberately splitting up passengers isn't so much that an airline would try it. After all, there are airlines that will even charge you to sit next to your kids. It's called, so graciously, the "family fee."

The sadness here lies in the fact that if Ryanair or any other airline was deliberately splitting people up because they hadn't paid extra, no one would be surprised.

Published on: Jun 9, 2017
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