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Airlines eliminate seating fees for families

Take off together. Travel for families flying is getting easier and cheaper with a seating policy change.

SAN ANTONIO — Airlines are eliminating seating fees and some stress. Parents and guardians just need to make sure they and their children are on the same reservation.

“Families oftentimes have found themselves having to pay more money just to be able to sit with their child who is maybe very young and is a little frightened to fly,” said Katy Nastro, a travel expert with Going. “There’s this undue fee that’s been placed on families in the past.”

American, Frontier, and Alaska are allowing at least one parent to sit for free with a child regardless of fare type. United is also transitioning its family seating policy, but has not yet made it official. The maximum age to be seated with a child varies by airline. If you cannot sit together, there is this guarantee: 

“If for some reason you end up on a flight where there are no seats together for your kids up to a certain age, they will switch you to another flight for free,” said Summer Hull, director of travel content for The Points Guy.

The process should be seamless, but be proactive before you board.

“Double check your seats no matter what airline you’re on to make sure that you’ve got them together because sometimes things happen,” said Hull.

Here is how to fix a wrong seating situation. First, ask the agent when you check in your baggage for a solution.

“Next recourse would be to ask the gate agent and then they’ll make an announcement to see if anybody is willing to change,” Nastro said.

Last resort, see if another flier will swap seats.

More airlines are likely to start offering free family seating policies in the future. Check the Department of Transportation’s airline dashboard to see each airline’s policy.

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