Pressure builds on US airlines over family seating fees

US President Joe Biden
Luca Perra /

The US government has published an online dashboard designed to pressurise airlines into ending family seating fees.

The new dashboard shows which US airlines charge passengers for children to have an adjacent seat next to an accompanying adult and which don’t.

According to the dashboard only three airlines currently don’t charge an additional fee, these include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

Passengers using Allegiant, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United will continue to pay extra.

President Biden has been extremely vocal in his criticism of the additional costs, dubbed junk-fees, placed on traveling families and attacked the charges as part of his State of the Union speech on February 7, 2023.

As recently as a month ago, no US airlines guaranteed fee-free family seating.

“Parents traveling with young kids should be able to sit together without an airline forcing them to pay junk fees,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We have been pressing airlines to guarantee family seating without tacking on extra charges, and now we’re seeing some airlines start to make this common-sense change. All airlines should do this promptly, even as we move forward to develop a rule establishing this as a requirement across the board.”

The Department of Transportation (DoT) issued a notice July in July 2022 stating that it is the department’s policy that US airlines ensure that children who are age 13 or younger are seated next to an accompanying adult with no extra charge.

The DoT has already begun work on a common-sense rulemaking to ban airlines from charging families junk fees to sit together.

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