January 17, 2019

The Perils and Hidden Costs of Flying with Children

“Parents have always stressed about flying with small children. Airlines are ratcheting up that stress now by making it harder for parents to sit with them.

This fall, United Airlines will make it a bit tougher, or at least more expensive, to get seats together by joining Delta and American in reserving more seats for corporate customers and requiring fees for many regular-legroom seats.

On airplanes, everything has a consequence. Reserving more seats for some means fewer seats for others. On some flights with heavy numbers of seats reserved, the only seats open to being reserved for free may be middle seats, limiting options for families except to pay extra fees for seats together.

Parents won’t be getting help from the feds, either. Under orders from Congress, the Transportation Department reviewed the family seating issue and determined, based on a low number of complaints, that new rules aren’t necessary, an official says. Congress had ordered a review in 2016 and directed DOT to come up with regulations forcing airlines to provide children with seats next to parents “if appropriate.””

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