I-Team: Which airlines charge for family seating, and which ones don’t

Which airlines charge for family seating, and which ones don't
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 4:31 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WFSB) - Traveling with a family can be expensive. If you want to all sit together on the plane, that can tack on additional fees per person.

The Biden Administration is proposing a law that would require airlines guarantee adjacent seats for children 13 and under at no additional cost for all fare types.

Angelica Galloza, her husband and their 3 kids under 7 returned home Wednesday from a trip to Puerto Rico to visit family. They paid an additional $30 per seat to make sure they all sat together.

“I can’t have a 5-year-old or a 7-year-old let alone a 3-year-old sit alone,” said Galloza.

The U.S. Department of Transportation created a dashboard to show which airlines already meet the standard Secretary Pete Buttigieg is proposing. There are limited conditions that the DOT says an airline can condition its guarantee on.

Ten airlines are listed on the dashboard. As of April 19th, the only three airlines that meet the DOT standard are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Frontier.

Galloza flew Spirit. Spirit did not return the I-Team’s request for comment on its family seating policy. Spirit’s website says “gate agents and flight attendants will work to provide adjacent seats when possible.”

The DOT says that’s not enough, and that’s why Spirit has a red X on the dashboard.

Galloza would like to see that change.

“I would love that because it would make it easier with my kids without having to pay extra for seats to be them,” said Galloza.

The I-Team reached out to all airlines that serve Bradley to find out if they plan to change their policies to meet the DOT standard. Some of the airlines at Bradley are not included in the DOT dashboard.

Airlines serving Bradley that meet the DOT standard:

1. American Airlines

2. Frontier

Airlines serving Bradley that do not meet the DOT standard:

1. Delta

Statement sent to Eyewitness News:

“Delta 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. At Delta, seating families together is a top priority. As noted on our website, when customers have seating questions, we encourage them to reach out to us as soon as possible to allow for the opportunity to address their concerns.”

2. JetBlue

JetBlue did not return Eyewitness News’ request for comment.

3. Southwest

Statement sent to Eyewitness News:

“Thanks for reaching out to us for comment on this topic. Southwest never charges a fee for seat assignments. We have an open seating policy with boarding positions assigned based upon time of Customer check-in. With our policy, Customers are welcome to choose – for free-- any open seat once onboard the aircraft. Additionally, to assist families with sitting together, Southwest offers Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding. Up to two adults traveling with a child, or children, six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding to select their preferred seats.”

4. Spirit

Spirit Airlines did not return Eyewitness News’ request for comment.

5. United Airlines

United responded to our request for comment with a link to this press release.

Airlines serving Bradley that are not listed on the DOT Dashboard.

1. Aer Lingus

Statement to Eyewitness News:

“Aer Lingus makes every effort to seat young families together. Seats* can be selected during the time of booking, after the booking is made via manage trip on our website or app or during online check-in (24 hours in advance of transatlantic flights /15 days in advance of short-haul flights ). In cases where seats have not been pre-assigned our check-in staff will do their best to ensure young families are seated together.”

2. Air Canada

Statement to Eyewitness News:

“Air Canada has had a family-friendly seating policy for years. Our process identifies bookings that include a child, where the customers did not choose seats themselves, and automatically assigns them seats together on the flight to ensure every child is with an adult in their party.”

3. Breeze Airways

Breeze Airways responded to our request for comment with a link to this press release.

4. Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country Airlines did not respond to Eyewitness News’ request for comment.