Commander-in-Chief or Travel Agent? Biden Seeks Free Seat Assignments For Families
President Biden is calling for airlines to allow families to sit together on flights for free. Now, unlike the previous President he doesn’t run his own social. And no doubt this tests well. But airlines charging families more so that their kids aren’t unsupervised on planes just doesn’t seem to be an actual problem.
You ought to be able to fly with your child – and sit next to them – without paying an additional fee.
It’s time all airlines offered fee free family seating.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 5, 2024
This has definite Bill Clinton school uniform election year energy. And, awkwardly, at a time when we may become mired in a two-front war.
Family seating has been on the administration’s radar for a couple of years, but they have neither seriously pressed legislation or promulgated a rule. In 2022, the Biden Administration proposed requiring airlines to disclose how much they charge for “family seating fees for a young child traveling with an adult” but they haven’t actually promulgated a rule.
And without actually having taken any sort of action, the President might as well have tweeted a complaint about school homework. Except kids don’t vote. Here’s Eddie Murphy in the all-time political classic, The Distinguished Gentleman:
To be clear, airlines generally seat you with your kids for free if you ask them to. For instance,
- United and American implemented new procedures to allow families to sit together free a year ago.
- Southwest Airlines allows families to sit together via their boarding process, where those with children 5 and under board before the ‘B’ group (so there are still generally plenty of seats left).
- And just 0.38% of DOT consumer complaints involve family seating issues to begin with.
Nobody wants to sit next to your kids. The airlines would almost pay you to supervise them so crew don’t have to – remember they charge for crew supervision (unaccompanied minor). To be honest, leaving kids with other passengers is kind of a break for mom.
Of course, sometimes flight cancellations mean that there aren’t seats together on a new plane. Usually you can work with the gate agent or flight attendants on board to move things around, but when there aren’t open seats it’s tougher. And if you book too close to actual travel it can make sitting together with advance seat assignments impossible.