United Airlines has announced a new technology that will increase the number of seats available on flights so that children can sit next to an adult at their party without paying a fee.
The move comes after the US Department of Transportation (DOT) directed American airlines to ensure that children under the age of 13 are seated next to an accompanying adult at no additional cost.
“Big news for families! Now when you make a reservation that includes children under 12 and there aren’t enough open seats next to each other, select adjacent Preferred seats will automatically become available at no charge,” said United Airlines in a Tweet.
Preferred and Regular Economy Seats for Adults Accompanying Children
According to the announcement made earlier this week, parents or other adult travellers accompanying a child under the age of 12 will be able to book “preferred” seats as well as regular economy seats when booking their tickets.
This allows adults to sit next to the child they are travelling with for no additional cost. United Airlines passengers with standard and basic economy tickets will be affected by the change.
Implementation and Cost of Preferred Seats
The change will go into full effect next month, though the airline has already increased some seat availability. Preferred seats are usually more expensive.
According to the media, preferred seats on a United flight cost $37 each way for one person on a roundtrip between Newark, New Jersey, and Los Angeles in August.
However, if a customer switches to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seats, United Airlines will not charge them the fare difference.
Other Airlines’ Plans for Family Seating
United is not the only airline that has decided to offer family seating options. Delta Air Lines claims that it blocks some rows of seats to ensure that families are seated together.
“Delta 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,” an airline spokesman told CNBC on Monday.
American Airlines’ booking platform will automatically search for available seats for the main cabin and basic economy passengers during the booking process.
Potential Ban on Family Seating Fees
Earlier this month, the White House announced that US President Joe Biden had asked lawmakers to “fast-track the ban on family seating fees.”
“Baggage fees are bad enough,” Biden said during this year’s State of the Union address. Airlines cannot treat your child like luggage.”
Overall, United Airlines’ new technology to increase child seat availability without charging extra fees is a welcome change for families travelling together. It will make flying more comfortable and convenient for both parents and children, and other airlines’ plans to accommodate family seating needs are also a positive development for passengers. The potential elimination of family seating fees reflects the government’s efforts to improve the travel experience for families.