The DOT Just Launched an Airline Family Seating Dashboard

Carriers are getting named and shamed for charging extra fees for adjacent child seats

Family sitting together on a plane
Want to know which airlines accommodate family seating? It's easier than ever.

Families being able to sit together on flights without having to jump through hoops has, for reasons I cannot comprehend, become a hot-button topic of late.

The issue is that, historically, airlines have made it all but impossible for families to sit together without having to pay extra or going through a last-minute scramble at the gate, which is objectively problematic…but even more so for those traveling with multiple children.

Now, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has just launched a dashboard that should help alleviate some of the stressors moving forward (presumably prompted by United Airlines’ recent introduction of a new family seating policy, allowing families with children under the age of 12 to select seats together free of charge, which was unsurprisingly met with mass approval). The aptly named “Airline Family Seating Dashboard” now displays all airlines that guarantee family seating.

“As recently as a month ago, no U.S. airlines guaranteed fee-free family seating,” the DOT said in a news release this week. “Now, after weeks of USDOT and the Biden Administration pressing airlines to improve their customer service, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines have stepped forward to guarantee that parents can sit with their young children without getting nickel and dimed.”

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.

“This new dashboard allows parents to sidestep airlines’ confusing claims on family seating. To receive a green check on the dashboard, an airline must guarantee that parents can sit next to children age 13 and younger for free if adjacent seats are available when they book,” it added. “And they must include that guarantee as part of their customer service plan so that it is backstopped by USDOT enforcement if they fail to deliver.”

The push for family seating policy reform 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 that dates back to July 2022.

It’s worth noting that such legislation impacts more than just parents of young children. In fact, I would argue that everyone on any given aircraft, at any given time, should want children to sit with their parents. And while a dashboard like this is hardly the ultimate solution, it does move us one step closer to a more universal policy.


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