Finally, an Airline Has Introduced a Family Seating Policy
United has implemented a new feature which will allow families with children under the age of 12 to select seats together, free of charge.
There is nothing crazier than the prospect of charging parents more to sit next to their very young children on a flight, and yet it’s long been a contentious topic — one that, until now, has gone largely unresolved.
Fortunately, one airline finally has come to their senses on the matter. United Airlines has, per a report from CNN, introduced a new family seating policy, which will allow families with children under the age of 12 to select seats together, free of charge.
“We’re focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat,” said Linda Jojo, Chief Customer Officer for United, in a statement.
The new feature will extend to Basic Economy, and involve a seat map that automatically finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking, as well as open up complimentary upgrades if necessary. “In cases where side-by-side seats are not available, customers will be able to switch to another flight to their destination with adjacent seats in the same cabin for free. No fare difference will be charged in such cases,” the airline said in a release.
The family seating policy comes off the back of the introduction of President Biden’s new Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would not only eradicate hotel junk fees, but also ban airline fees for families, allowing children 13 years or younger to sit with their parents without needing to pay extra — an initiative from the Department of Transportation dating back to July 2022. In other words: it wasn’t exactly unprompted.
“Parents should not find themselves unexpectedly seated away from their young child on a flight, and paying a large fee to sit together is wrong,” the administration noted.
“Baggage fees are bad enough — they can’t just treat your child like a piece of luggage,” Biden later said in his his State of the Union address.
Not to be outdone by United, Delta Air Lines said on Monday that it “does not charge family seating fees and regardless of the ticket class purchased, will always work with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their family seating needs are met.” For its part, American offers families “booking tips” — book early, chief among them — while Southwest allows families to board early. That said, United’s solution feels like the most foolproof.
The policy change is set to go into effect in early March.
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