Biden urges US carriers to follow American Airlines on family seating

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on U.S. airlines to follow American Airlines in committing to eliminating family seating fees as part of their customer service plans.

“No one should have to pay extra to be seated with their kids,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Time for more airlines to follow suit.”

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Biden had urged airlines in his State of the Union earlier this month to take the action, saying, “Baggage fees are bad enough - airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”

Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. airlines, has said its carriers do not charge for family seating. Other carriers have not adopted the commitment in customer service plans.

Carriers that do not honor commitments in written plans can face enforcement actions from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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USDOT plans to propose regulations to bar airlines from family seating fees and will next week disclose on a government dashboard which airlines have committed to not charging such fees.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the family seating dashboard will “show which airlines guarantee families can sit together for free” and praised American Airlines “becoming the first U.S. airline to commit to putting this guarantee in its customer service plan.”

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American said its written plan “provides additional clarity” and is “proud to offer industry leading, customer-friendly policies that ensure a positive travel experience for families.”

Buttigieg noted last week U.S. budget carrier Frontier Airlines introduced measures under which at least one parent will automatically be seated with any children within their family group who are under the age of 14 at no additional cost.

United Airlines said last week it would make it easier for children under 12-years old to sit next to an adult by using a new seat map dynamically locating available adjacent seats at booking.

Biden in September touted his administration’s “cracking down” on U.S. airlines to improve treatment of passengers after they updated customer service plans for services provided when flights are canceled or delayed. Nearly all airlines agreed to offer passengers meals and overnight stays for delays within their control.

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

Source: Reuters

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