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September 01, 2020 1:28pm
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DOT dashboard shows what airlines guarantee fee-free family seating

The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a dashboard this week that shows what airlines guarantee that children can sit adjacent to an accompanying adult at no extra cost.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a dashboard to show which airlines don't charge extra for families requesting to sit next to each other. 

It's called the Airline Family Seating Dashboard, and it lists the airlines that guarantee adjacent seats for children under 14 years old and an accompanying adult at no additional cost for all fare types and which carriers don't. 

"A parent who purchases airline tickets for a family should receive a guarantee from the airline that it will seat the parent and child together without fees or a last-minute scramble at the gate or having to ask other passengers to give up their seat to allow the parent and child to sit together," the DOT's website said. 


In February, DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg first announced the plan to launch such a dashboard. At the same time, he also tweeted that the department was "moving to require airlines to guarantee fee-free family seating." 

However, last July, the department issued a notice saying carriers should "do everything in their power" to ensure that children are next to an adult in their party at no extra cost.

A handful of airlines have already updated their policies in recent weeks prior to the dashboard being released. 

Last week, President Joe Biden and Buttigieg commended American Airlines for updating its customer service plan so that children under 15 years old could be seated adjacent to an accompanying adult at no additional cost, including Basic Economy fares as long as certain conditions are met.


Buttigieg also noted in the reply thread that Frontier Airlines made a similar adjustment. 

However, the DOT noted that the policies that have recently put into place are "subject to limited conditions." 

Some of these conditions include, a child and accompanying adult must be on the same reservation, adjacent seats must be available at the time of booking, and the adult either chooses seats for the entire reservation or skips seats for the entire reservation, and does not make changes to seat assignments once assigned to them. 


The department says it will continue to update the dashboard "to provide air travelers clear information about the airlines." 

"DOT is not satisfied with airline statements that they will ‘make efforts’ to seat families traveling with children together at no additional cost," the DOT's website reads. "The Department urges all airlines to guarantee family seating.

Here are the airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating: 

United Airlines also announced in February that it changed its policy, which takes effect this month, to allow families to be seated together more easily and free of charge. 

The airline created a new seat map feature to help seat kids under 12 years old next to an adult in their party for free. 

However, United isn't listed under the airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating because its policy doesn't 100% match what DOT is requesting for their dashboard. 

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