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Alaska, American and Frontier are the only airlines that have received a green check from the government on a new dashboard designed to ensure “children who are age 13 or younger are seated next to an accompanying adult with no extra charge,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Major airlines contacted by AARP say they do their best in every instance to make sure that children 13 or younger are seated with an adult in their party. A look at every airline’s policy contains language that they always try to seat families together. “Delta strives to seat family members together upon request,” reads a statement on Delta’s website. “If you are unable to obtain seat assignments together for your family using delta.com or the Fly Delta mobile app, please contact Reservations to review available seating options.”
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When reached for comment, a Delta representative reiterated that statement. “Delta does not charge family seating fees regardless of the ticket class purchased, and we’ll always work with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their family seating needs are met,” said Morgan Durrant, a Delta spokesperson. “Seating families together is a top priority. As noted on our website, when customers have seating questions, we encourage them to reach out to us as soon as possible to allow for the opportunity to address any concerns.”
Discount carrier Allegiant’s website indicates a commitment to seating families together: “While we will do our best to accommodate families, the availability of seats together cannot be guaranteed.” In a statement, Allegiant said, “We do not charge a fee to seat children under 13 next to a parent or guardian. It is our policy to seat children 13 and under next to a parent or guardian. Though we can’t assign the seating at the time of booking, we do have several layers built into the check-in and boarding process to ensure that happens.”
The idea that families are separated at the time of booking by airlines was highlighted in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February.
“We’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round-trip for a family just to be able to sit together,” Biden said in his address to the nation. “Baggage fees are bad enough. Airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”
AARP also mentioned the fees associated with adjacent seating in a January letter to the DOT in support of improving the disclosure of hidden fees.