United Airlines Promises Families They Can Sit Together

Traveling with kids and want to make sure you get to sit together?

Airline seating policies and fees for choosing seats often make that a frustrating, sometimes impossible, and expensive undertaking.

President Biden ragged on airlines for this practice during his State of the Union address in early February

And in July the US Department of Transporation issued a notice encouraging US airlines “to do everything in their power to ensure that children who are age 13 or younger are seated next to an accompanying adult with no additional charge.”

Airlines Beginning to Pay Attention

On Monday United Airlines announced a new plan to make it easier for parents and children under 12 years old to sit next to each other without paying an extra fee. That includes passengers who purchase Basic Economy Tickets,

The airline said the policy will extend to customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets. That category usually doesn’t allow seats to be assigned until boarding.

United says a new seat map feature that finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking makes this new policy possible. The seat map program will first review all available free Economy seats and then opens complimentary upgrades to available Preferred seats if needed, according to United.

Other airlines may follow suit by adjusting their policies to follow United’s lead.

For now, Delta Air Lines’ website says the carrier “strives to seat family members together upon request” and urges passengers who can’t find seats together to contact Reservations for help.

American Airlines’ website says”if you’re unable to choose seats, don’t want to pay for seats, or chose a Basic Economy fare, our system will detect that you’re a family traveling. The system will search for seats together automatically before the day of departure. We’ll try our best to keep you together, but if seats are limited, we’ll assign seats so children under 15 are next to at least 1 adult.”

Alaska Airlines’ site states that “if are unable to obtain seat assignments together for your family, we will make every effort to seat at least one adult with any young child (age 13 and under) from the same party.”

Like other carriers, JetBlue’s statement on family seating urges families to book early. But says “if seats together are not available, please let our airport gate crewmembers know when you arrive at the airport. They will do their best to find a seating solution. We cannot guarantee that seats together will always be available.”

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