This Airline Has Good News for Families

United says its new seating policy will help adults, kids sit next to each other at no extra charge
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2023 8:30 AM CST
This Airline Has Good News for Families
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/tonefotografia)

If you've ever flown with young children and had to pass juice boxes and crayons over seat tops or across the aisle because you weren't able to sit with them, United Airlines has some news you'll be happy to hear. With the help of a new seat map feature used during booking, passengers will be able to select seats for kids under the age of 12 right next to any adults in their party—even passengers with "basic economy" tickets, reports CNN. The technology will scan first for economy seats, then search for any available "preferred" seats, which would be offered as a complimentary upgrade.

If for some reason adjacent seats aren't available—ie, if a family is reserving tickets late in the game or flights are already full—passengers can switch to another flight going to the same destination without an extra charge, even if the second flight is more expensive. "We're focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat," Linda Jojo, the airline's chief customer officer, says in a release. CNBC notes a Department of Transportation notice in July that strongly urged airlines "to do everything in their power" to make sure kids 13 and younger are seated next to adults in their party, without being charged for it.

That release stated that complaints had come in that children as young as 11 months old weren't seated next to an accompanying adult. Earlier this month, President Biden called for an expedited ban on such seating fees. "No parent should have to pay extra to sit next to their child," states a White House release. Other airlines say they try to avoid separating kids from adults during flights: Delta, for instance, blocks off certain rows to allow for families to sit together, while American's own technology searches for seats together at the time of booking for basic economy and main cabin passengers. United's new policy kicks into effect in early March. (More United Airlines stories.)

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