child's feet hanging off the end of an airline seat

Airlines can no longer charge parents extra money for sitting next to their kids on airplanes

Traveling is not always easier said than done. In fact, there is an array of things that can go wrong like language barriers or missing your train. Not only that, but often one gets slammed with unexpected costs. This can throw off your budget for the rest of the trip. One thing is for sure, new parents would get an unpleasant surprise when booking flights for their first family getaway. They will have noticed an additional cost that would allow them to sit next to their child. Luckily, flying with kids has become a whole lot cheaper. New regulations state that children must be seated with their parent of guardian – at no additional cost.

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No more additional fee to be seated together when flying with kids.
image credit: pexels / Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

No more additional fee when flying with kids

There is some good news for those parents who like to go on holiday with their family every now and then. In the past, they would have had to pay an additional fee if they wanted to be seated next to each other. The U.S. Department of Transportation, or DOT, has made it mandatory for children to be seated next to a parent or guardian. The airlines have been given a notice by the DOT’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection or the OACP. They are no longer allowed to charge those who fly with kids the additional fee.

The OACP released a statement. It explained there may not be many complaints from parents being charged this fee. However: “there continue to be complaints of instances where young children, including a child as young as 11 months, are not seated next to an accompanying adult.”

The statement went on to explain that the OACP will be checking in with the airlines. In order to make sure they are complying with the new regulations. If they are still charging a fee for parents flying with kids to be seated together, they will take it to the authorities. “In four months from the date of this Notice, OACP plans to initiate a review of airline policies and consumer complaints filed with the Department. If airlines’ seating policies and practices are barriers to a child sitting next to an adult family member or other accompanying adult family member, the Department will consider additional action consistent with its authorities.”

Read: Airline booked a 13-month-old baby on a different flight to her parents, who then spent 20 hours on the phone trying to rebook.

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A petition to get rid of the fee

A petition to abolish the additional fee started two years prior to the new regulations. It was signed by 163,000 people. The petition read:

“Children 13 or under should sit with their families while flying, and should not be charged extra fees to do so. Complaints have been filed against your airline for separating children as young as age 2 from their families. This is a security hazard for the child and a safety threat to all passengers during emergencies. It also puts an inappropriate burden on customers who sit next to an unaccompanied child. I expect you to put safety over profits, and seat children with their families without charging them extra for it.”

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Flying with kids actually means you can fly with them.
Image credit: pexels / Athena

The director of financial policy for Consumer Reports’ advocacy arm, Anna Laitin, was interviewed by CNN. She said: “Children need a responsible adult around and whether it’s just so they can go to the bathroom in the middle of the flight or if there’s an emergency, it’s not safe to have a child without somebody there to take care of them.”

It may not be safe, but it is also inconvenient for the adult who lands up seated next to a stranger child. They did not plan to be flying with kids and being responsible for them. “And no business traveler or solo traveler wants to be put in charge of a 3-year-old they don’t know”.

She went on to explain how unsafe it is for a child to be separated from their parents. Especially in an emergency situation. “And, no parent wants to be seated, strapped in unable to move, that far from their child”. No one believes that parent is going to calmly move forward and get off the plane”

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“An air travel system that works for everyone”

In conclusion, Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Transportation Secretary released a statement. “Today’s announcements are the latest steps toward ensuring an air travel system that works for everyone. Whether you’re a parent expecting to sit together with your young children on a flight, a traveler with a disability navigating air travel, or a consumer traveling by air for the first time in a while, you deserve safe, accessible, affordable, and reliable airline service.”

Keep Reading: Mom Carries Disabled Son On Her Back As She Promises To Take Him To Travel The World

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Sources

  1. Parents will no longer be charged extra money for sitting next to their kids on airplanes.Upworthy. Jisha Joseph. July 15, 2022.
  2. Airlines Can No Longer Charge Parents Extra to Sit Next to Their Kids.Jalopnik. Kyle Hyatt. July 18, 2022.
  3. “Petition to airlines: Kids should sit with their parents” CNN. February 2020.
Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13 year old boy.
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