United Airlines introduces new policy for family seats

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(CNN) United Airlines has a new seat map feature that will help families with children under 12 find seats together for free, the airline announced Monday.

The feature will include Basic Economy tickets.

The new seat map technology will dynamically find available adjacent Economy seats at the time of booking and allow for free upgrades to other available seats as needed, the airline said.

In cases where side-by-side seats are not available, customers will be able to switch to another flight to their destination with adjacent seats in the same cabin free of charge. No price difference will be charged in such cases, United said in a press release.

“We’re focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents, and know that often starts with the right seat,” Linda Jojo, Chief Customer Officer for United, said in a statement.

United Polaris, First Class and Economy Plus seats are not included in the new policy change for family seats.

American airline customers have long complained about seating that separates young children from their parents on flights and the extra costs associated with buying seats to sit together.

President Biden addressed his administration’s efforts to curb such taxes in his State of the Union address this month.

“Baggage fees are bad enough — they can’t just treat your child like a piece of luggage,” Biden said in the speech

A July 2022 notice from the Department of Transportation asked U.S. airlines to make seating children next to accompanying adults available at no extra charge

More adjacent seat options will be available on United Airlines immediately. The full policy change is set to take effect in early March, the airline said.

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

Delta’s website refers to family seats “on request,” and directs passengers who are unable to secure seats via the airline’s website or mobile app to contact Reservations.

American Airlines offers booking tips on its website for families traveling with children under 15, noting that “the further in advance you book, the better.”

“Our current family seating policies are designed to allow families to sit together without having to pay extra,” American Airlines said Monday in a statement.

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