Following the communication a few days ago, I received the following reply from Air France:
Dear Mr. [Leo],
Thank you very much for your patient while I am waiting for the explanation from our Station Managers in Singapore regarding this claim.
According to our email correspondence, please allow me to explain that our reservation staff in Singapore had reserved the bassinet seats for your family and also added a comment under flight information that seats protected for family with infant.
However, since the flight was first departed from Jakarta before stopped over in Singapore to transfer passengers, the bassinet seats were somehow given to another family without infant from the departure in Jakarta. Subsequently, our Customer Service officer informed boarding gate staff to offer other seats for passengers who occupied bassinet seats. Unfortunately, none of the passengers was willing to change their seats.
I can well understand that this experience has left you with a less than good impression but hope that this explanation has assisted in clarifying your concerns and I wish to offer you our renewed apologies once again for this regrettable incident.
Clearly, I do not wish this situation to be your lasting impression of Air France and the service we aim to provide. In recognition of the inconveniences you were caused and as a token of our appreciation of your understandable disappointment, I am pleased to offer you and Ms. […], each, a non-refundable travel voucher valued EUR 100 (equivalent to SGD 150) to be forwarded to your email shortly. The voucher offered will remain valid for one year from the date of issue and may be used towards the purchase of a new ticket on KLM and Air France route, chargeable options (additional baggage), chargeable services (preferred seat, excess baggage), fare difference, tax and penalty fee.
This non-refundable voucher can also be transferred once to a beneficiary of your choice. To use the voucher to purchase a ticket, please advise your travel agent prior to payment or contact our Reservations Department.
I note that you would like to be seated in bassinet seat row on your return flight from Paris to Singapore. However, after checked the seat availability of this flight, I must respectfully inform you that you and your family are currently assigned in seat number [xx], [xx] and [xx] which are normal seats as the bassinet seats are already occupied.
I am sorry that I cannot guarantee the seats but I have put a remark on your booking in order to maximise the possibility for you to receive your preferred seats. Mr [Leo], I do hope that the above explanation and goodwill gesture will help soften the negative impact of this situation. You have our assurance that we are well aware of our commitment to customer care and that the situation you have experienced was exceptional. As a result of this communication, we certainly hope that you will feel better and able to choose Air France again in the future for your travel needs.
Yours sincerely, […]
Reading this, there is more context how our flight situation could be as bad as it got. It does not really reflect well on Air France handling seating for families with babies, but this is clearly a genuine apology.
I replied with this:
thank you for providing context and a comprehensive explanation why the bassinet seats were not available for us. While we do not like what happened we understand this was a mistake and we trust efforts are underway to avoid similar situations for other families in the future.
We appreciate the goodwill gesture, but want to clarify that this is not why we had filed the complaint. Please let us know whether the monetary value of these vouchers can be donated to a charity instead. If not, we will gratefully utilize the vouchers at a later stage.
The reason for the complaint was predominantly to avoid the same issue on the return flight.
On that matter the information you’ve kindly provided contradicts that of Air France Germany where we called earlier this week. Our understanding is that the bassinet seats are blocked in the system and cannot be occupied by anyone at this time? The seat numbers you’ve referred to have been indeed assigned to us during that conversation as not ideal but best remaining option. We understand that there are several notes in the system now asking to seat our family in the row with the bassinet seats. Thank you for that.
This notwithstanding, we remain surprised about why Air France is struggling so much to serve families with infants, despite this never being a problem in previous years and promoting the new “Kids” program which basically puts in writing what we would expect anyway.
Regardless, we do hope these additional messages will be sufficient to hopefully get us the bassinet seats and subsequently lead to a much better experience on our return flight.