Good news: plane tickets arrived this morning - we're going to DC!
Bad news: what I had booked was three seats including one for smallclanger (at adult price, mind) but what arrived were two scheduled seats and an `open' ticket which presumably doesn't convey a seat reservation (and it still cost almost 50 pounds - most of which is `tax').
My card doesn't seem to have been charged yet, so I can't check that they only charged me for what was delivered. I'm guessing that one of the following applies, but will phone later to check: (a) Virgin Atlantic doesn't seem offer full tickets to infants, but Continental does (it's a code-share flight, so we've paid Continental even though the plane will be a Virgin one); however, when Continental came to actually issuing the tickets they discovered they couldn't reserve a seat for an infant on that flight. Or (b) the plane looks like being empty so he'll quite likely be able to have a seat anyway and they are just trying to save us money.
The online booking system now shows my reservation as only having two passengers and claims it can't show me the price because `this reservation was cancelled' (which it clearly wasn't, since we have the physical tickets). I've searched for smallclanger's reservation, but it claims it can't show it to me because `this itinerary has already been flown' (probably a consequence of it being an open ticket, though it's a strange error message even so).
The other bad news is the seat placement. When I placed the reservation it apparently automatically allocated three seats. According to the seat viewer (which, I suppose, may or may not be correct given that Continental isn't operating the flight) the seats in the plane are in 2-4-2 formation, and so it allocated us three seats from the 4 with smallclanger having the aisle seat. Now his reservation has been cancelled we are stuck in the middle of the plane without even an aisle seat. I've attempted to change this, but the changes won't stick.
Ah well, must get on the blower. . .
Update: A person from the Continental reservations desk has offered to upgrade him to a seat (on payment of the difference, naturally). No explanation of why he didn't get a seat in the first place, but because the reservation has to be placed with Virgin I have to wait till Monday and then ring back in order to see whether the (new) reservation was successful. This is where I'm suspecting the process will break down. . . but at least then they might be able to explain it to me on the phone.