United Airlines introduces new family seating policy

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(CNN) United Airlines is offering a new seat map feature that will help families with children under 12 find seats together for free, the airline announced Monday.

The feature will include Basic Economy tickets.

The new seat map technology will dynamically find available adjacent economy seats at the time of booking and open free upgrades to other available seats as needed, the airline said.

In cases where side-by-side seats are not available, customers will be able to change free of charge to another flight to their destination with adjacent seats in the same cabin. No fare difference will be charged in such cases, United said in a press release.

“We strive to provide a great experience for our young passengers and their parents, and we know that often starts with the right seat,” said Linda Jojo, chief customer officer at United, in a statement.

United Polaris, First Class and Economy Plus seats are not included in the new family seating policy.

US airline customers have long complained about seats that separate young children from their parents on flights and the extra costs associated with buying seats to sit together.

President Biden referenced government efforts to reduce these fees in his State of the Union address this month, touting the Unwanted Fees Prevention Act that will also target resort fees and ticket fees. together, among others.

“Baggage fees are high enough — they can’t just treat your child like baggage,” Biden said in his speech.

A July 2022 Department of Transportation advisory called on U.S. airlines to provide child seats alongside accompanying adults at no additional charge.

More adjacent seating options will be available on United Airlines immediately. The full policy change is expected to take effect in early March, the airline said.

Delta Air Lines said Monday that it “does not charge a family seat fee and regardless of ticket class purchased, will always work with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their family seating needs are met. satisfied”.

Delta’s website refers to family seats as “on request,” referring passengers who are unable to secure seats through the airline’s website or mobile app to contact reservations. Delta’s seat map technology blocks certain areas for family seating up to 48 hours before a flight.

American Airlines offers booking tips on its website for families traveling with children under 15, noting that “the farther in advance you book, the better.”

“Our current family seating policies are designed to allow families to sit together without paying extra,” American Airlines said in a statement Monday.

On Southwest Airlines, which has no assigned seat, families with children 6 or younger are allowed to board early, just after the “A” passenger group. The airline’s website also offers the EarlyBird check-in option for a fee that may result in a Group “A” boarding position.

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