Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

Children and Parents Sit Together at No Extra Cost On These Airlines

Children should be seated and not herded.

Only three weeks after the president of the United States proposed the Junk Fee Prevention Act to members of the House of Representatives in the name of eliminating resort fees and other mandatory hidden fees to promote competition in the economy while simultaneously saving citizens billions of dollars per year, two airlines have voluntarily introduced new policies through which children and parents sit together at no extra cost.

Children and Parents Sit Together at No Extra Cost On These Airlines

United Airlines Boeing 777-222(ER) airplane
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Joseph R. Biden believes that no parent should have to pay extra simply to sit next to his or her child, as many airlines currently charge a fee to select a seat in advance — including for customers who travel with children — which means that parents can find themselves unexpectedly not seated with their young child on a flight is indeed a possibility…

…but apparently not on United Airlines or Frontier Airlines.

This official announcement from United Airlines includes “an improved family seating policy that makes it easier than ever for children under 12-years old to sit next to an adult in their party for free — including customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets” as the result of “a series of investments in a new seat map feature that dynamically finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking” tickets.

Customers who travel with children younger than 12 years of age will start to see more adjacent seat options immediately; and the complete policy change will go into effect in early March of 2023. The online seat engine first reviews all available free seats in the economy class cabin; and then opens complimentary upgrades to available preferred seats when necessary.

“In instances when adjacent seats are not available prior to travel — due to things like last minute bookings, full flights or unscheduled aircraft changes — United’s new policy also lets customers switch for free to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seat availability in the same cabin”, according to the aforementioned announcement. “Customers also won’t be charged if there is a difference in fare price between the original and new flight.

Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

Frontier Airlines released its own announcement of its new policy to automatically seat children with a family member or adult in their party, which states that “at least one parent will automatically be seated with any children within their family group who are under the age of 14. At no additional charge, the airline automatically assigns seats based on family members’ ages before the check-in window opens.”

Final Boarding Call

Children should not be required to be seated away from their parents just because an airline wants to profit from assigning seats — especially when seat assignments used to be offered at no extra charge on most airlines not all that long ago.

Whether other airlines will introduce similar policies — without having being forced to do so, which could happen one day — remains to be seen.

Although I have no proof to the contrary, I highly doubt that these policies would have been voluntarily implemented had there not been the threat of the Junk Fee Prevention Act by the president of the United States…

All photographs ©2017 and ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

  1. To be fair, I do not think the President gives a flip about parents and children sitting together. It was the topic du jour and a speech writer told him to harp on it.

    As a matter of policy, all guests who book together *should* be seated together if adjoining seats exist at the time of booking. It seems like a reasonable expectation for every flight and every traveling party.

    Choosing to do this only for one parent and some young children serves to cause more chaos. Are children suddenly self-sufficient at 35,000 feet once they turn 13? Are all passengers over 12 responsible and safe to sit alone? Is your 14 year old really safe with whomever happens to have the seat next to them? Would you want to risk your reputation by being the only seat mate to an unaccompanied minor?

    Government intervention has, once again, served to only provide benefits for a select fee while leaving most people in a worse position.

  2. Completely agree with this:

    “As a matter of policy, all guests who book together *should* be seated together if adjoining seats exist at the time of booking. It seems like a reasonable expectation for every flight and every traveling party.” At no additional charge.

    But for adults traveling with minors on flights, this is more needed than for groups of adults booked together.

    To be fair, I do think Biden does care about junk fees and these schemes to shake money out of those traveling with kids. But he didn’t come up with the idea. Rather it was selected as something that would have secular appeal regardless of political party affiliation and yet could be chalked up as a win for the Admin and the Democrats to try to remind the public that personal wallet/purse issues are on the agenda and the public got something out it.

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