DOT to send proposed legislation to Congress to ban family seating fees on flights


(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Transportation will send proposed legislation to Congress Monday asking legislators to ban so-called family seating fees on flights.

The proposal follows calls from President Joe Biden to get rid of “junk fees” — including extra costs on airline tickets so families can sit together. The proposal would prohibit airlines from charging a fee or additional costs on kid’s seats in the same service class as an accompanying adult.

DOT officials conducted a review last year of airline seating policies, encouraging carriers to “review and improved” their policies to ensure kids can sit near parents at no additional cost.

“Upon review of the airlines’ seating policies, DOT remains concerned that airlines’ policies do not guarantee adjacent seats for young children traveling with a family member and that airlines do not guarantee the adjacent seating at no additional cost,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The proposed legislation also follows DOT’s recently released a family seating dashboard, which outlines which airlines will allow parents to sit with their kids at no extra cost.

To receive a “green check” on DOT’s dashboard, an airline must guarantee that parents can sit next to children aged 13 and younger at no additional cost if adjacent seats are available when they book. Airlines must include that guarantee as part of their customer service plan so that it is backstopped by USDOT enforcement if they fail to deliver, DOT said.

Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Frontier Airlines have the green light from DOT on their family seating policies.

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