Letting parents sit with their children on flights would seem to be common sense and, you know, the right thing to do, but that’s never been a reason for airlines to do anything.
See also: why they seat people in the front and with aisle seats before the rest of us schleps just because of some imagined “status.”
Planes should be boarded back to front, window to aisle, and I will die on this hill.
Anyway. Apparently some people out there agree with me, because there’s an actual petition to ask airlines to let families sit together without paying yet another fee.
We sent letters to @AmericanAir, @Delta and @united urging the airlines to let kids sit w/ parents without extra fees — more than 120K of you have signed our petition telling airlines to put #SafetyOverProfits! #WTFee
— Consumer Reports Advocacy (@CRAdvocacy) March 2, 2020
The petition, started by Consumer Reports, applies to families traveling with kids under 13 and sent letters to the heads of Delta, United, and American asking them to institute these new policies.
More than 120,000 people have signed the petition, arguing that seating children away from their parents presents security concerns, should there be an emergency, as well as inappropriate burdens on customers who end up sitting next to an unaccompanied child.
In the letters, they also pointed out that sexual assault could also be a concern, but there are also many others.
“The FBI has reported on increases in sexual assaults in commercial travel. Also, emergency procedures and evacuations will certainly be slowed and compromised by anxious parents and children who are far apart from each other on the plane.”
Consumer Reports also shared the letters ahead of Tuesday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing, which could decide to seat children younger than 13 with their parent or guardian at no additional cost. This would not mean airlines would have to upgrade anyone’s seating.
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136 consumer complaints were forwarded by the Department of Transportation, which may not be enough to get the attention the organization was hoping for, but American Airlines told the website Romper that they are working on a family seating process.
“For families traveling with a child under the age of 15 who don’t have a seat assignment, our system will work to seat the child with an adult in the reservation starting 48 hours after the reservation is ticketed. This ensures the child will not be assigned a seat alone. In addition, we block seats on flights for airport control. This enables our airport team members to move people around, as needed, at the gate. This is helpful in case families book at the last minute, rebooking due to irregular operations, etc.”
Delta had a more vague reply, stating that they “work with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their travel needs are met,” and United declined to reply with a comment.
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In the end, the airlines don’t need the government’s approval to do the right thing.
“The airlines can fix this problem without government intervention. Ensuring that children are always seated with their parents regardless of the ticket purchased would improve safety and security for all travelers while easing the minds of families.”
Of course, we all know that sometimes big corporations have trouble doing the right thing until their hands are forced, but however this happens, I hope the changes are made soon.
Have you had a bad experience trying to sit with your children on a flight? We want to hear about it in the comments!