Travel

Planning a Trip With Kids? The New Airline Family Seating Dashboard May Help

The Family Seating Dashboard is an expansion of the US Department of Transportation’s Airline Customer Service Dashboard, which launched back in September to help passengers when their flights are disrupted by delays or cancellations.

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The federal government has officially rolled out a new online dashboard, showing which airlines charge -- and do not charge -- for families to pick seats next to each other.

The Family Seating Dashboard is an expansion of the US Department of Transportation’s  Airline Customer Service Dashboard, which launched back in September to help passengers when their flights are disrupted by delays or cancellations.

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Up until recently, American Airlines was the only airline that guaranteed fee-free family seating.

But two more airlines have since followed suit, and more may be on the way.

It can sometimes cost an extra hundred dollars or more to get guaranteed seat assignments when you’re booking flights for your family.

The Biden Administration has been calling on airlines to reevaluate family seating policies as part of its crackdown on “junk fees."

This week the USDOT rolled out that new online dashboard which makes it easy for families to figure out which airlines will let them sit together for free.

Right now, American Airlines, Alaska  Airlines and Frontier Airlines will allow families with children under the age of 13 to sit together on flights without paying extra.  The child and accompanying adult must be on the same reservation.

Travel experts say the dashboard should press more airlines to make changes as well.

“The fact that there is a dashboard that clearly states and put it puts it out into the public, which airlines are guaranteeing that you'll be seated, at least one parent will be seated next to a child at the time of flight is a good sign because it's really pushing back on the airlines,” said Katy Nastro, a travel expert at Going.com.  "And obviously, as a brand rep for an airline, you don't want your airlines to have ...that red cross next to it at the moment.  I would be confident in saying that it's only a matter of weeks, if not months, especially ahead of a busy travel season like the summer when a lot of families look to go away, that other airlines will follow suit.”

In addition to airline fees, the Biden Administration's Junk Fee Prevention Act is aimed at cracking down on a lot of questionable fees that can drive up costs for consumers, including added charges for hotel rooms and surprise fees for concert or show tickets.


You can find all of the airlines customer service policies posted on the dashboard here.

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