It May Soon Be Cheaper Than Ever For Families To Fly Together, Here’s Why

The Biden Administration is petitioning congress to ban US airlines from charging family seating fees so that parents can sit with kids under 14 free of any extra charges.

By Iqra Butt | Published

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Air travel has become an essential part of modern life, enabling people to traverse the globe with unprecedented speed and efficiency. However, while the benefits of air travel are undeniable, the costs for family seating fees are expensive. According to CNBC, the Biden administration hopes to curb family seating fees by asking congress to ban airlines from enforcing such fees so that parents are able to sit with their children under the age of 14, with no additional costs.

These types of add-on charges have become increasingly prevalent in the industry, with many airlines now using unbundled pricing strategies that require customers to pay for even basic services like baggage handling and seat selection, according to CNBC. It is important to understand the implications of these charges for consumers, as they represent a significant shift in the way that airlines operate and how consumers experience air travel. One of the most egregious add-on charges for consumers are family seating fees, extra fees aimed at families traveling with young children who would prefer to be seated next to each other.

The United States Department of Transportation, U.S. DOT,  has created a family seating dashboard that highlights airlines that guarantee family seating at no additional costs and airlines that do charge. According to the chart, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Frontier Airlines have implemented a change that guarantees parents can sit with their children free of charge. However,  Allegiant, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest,  United, and Spirit have not implemented this change. 

U.S. DOT’s website states that one month ago, no U.S. airlines had guaranteed free family seating. It seems like their continued efforts are paying off after weeks of pressuring congress considering three major airlines have already made the positive change. While this represents hope for families, U.S. DOT is determined to continue to advocate for families by supporting “common-sense” rulemaking that saves families from spending money on unnecessary policies. 

Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary of the United States, referred to the fees airlines charge families to sit together as “junk fees” and advocated for families by encouraging airlines to move forward with the new developing policy immediately, regardless of when it becomes an official requirement across the board. Although a few airlines have made the change regarding the family seating fees, it is unclear if other airlines will wait until congress makes it a requirement or if they will go ahead and implement the family-friendly change. It does bring into question if families will begin defaulting to the three airlines that do not charge extra for sitting together, which means other airlines would lose consumers. 

The proliferation of add-on charges has become a significant issue in airline travel, affecting the cost, transparency, and customer satisfaction of air travel. While many of these charges may seem necessary for the airline business model, government regulators have been pushing for consumer protection. The future of other add-on charges is uncertain, but at the moment, the push for regulations set forth by the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation has eased a portion of the financial burden on traveling families by curbing family seating fees.