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Airlines urged to let parents sit with kids

Sen. Charles Schumer is urging airlines to allow families with young children to sit together without paying extra. The New York Democrat is reacting to an Associated Press story last week detailing how families this summer are going to find it harder to sit together without paying fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars over the original ticket price. "Children need access to their parents, and parents need access to their children," Schumer said in a statement. "Unnecessary… ( More...

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Brian Bishop 5
We all know how to pick and change seat assignments on flights that have them. Most families could find at least a couple of seats together and in close proximity to each other on most flights I think. Also, once on board, I've never seen a situation where no-one would give up their seat so a child could sit with a parent. Not that it can't happen, but seriously, an act of Congress? Doesn't Schumer and company have more important things to worry about?
BC Hadley 1
Why doesn't Schumer simply advise parents traveling with children to (a) purchase tickets early, or (b) get to the gate early to request accommodation? We've flown every year for the past 11 years with two kids, and it has never been a problem. Yes, there are vastly more important issues for our elected officials to be fussing over. Trying to regulate something like this is a waste of good red tape.
David Sims 4
As much as I hate government involvement, the airlines have brought this on themselves and are guilty of collusion. It is ridiculous to sell any group of tickets, then charge extra for the privelege to sit near each other. Consumers have no choice, since all airlines are now doing this. The ability to sit near your traveling companions, be it spouses or children or even business partners, should be part of the base fare. What is next, a charge to use a jetway to board the aircraft?
dbaker 2
Are there any actual examples of children not sitting with their parents?

The issue is that often there are not multiple seats together without paying an additional fee for the "premium" seats. However, gate agents will make arrangements for families to sit together (for free). However, they don't want to allow large groups to take large, contiguous blocks of seats and make them unavailable for sale. However, there's lots more flexibility at the gate.

If families are paying a premium to sit together, it is for the convenience...the option to do so at the gate is practically a foregone conclusion.
Chris Shumeyko 3
Schumer has always been noted as an aviation-centered Senator. He is constantly fighting for better Air Service in the upstate NY communities, so it doesn't surprise me that he is bringing up this issue in congress. With that said, I agree with others. At time of booking, it has never been hard to select several seats together unless of course you're booking last minute. Also, I've seen people frequently give up seats so families can sit together and in some cases, even get rewarded with a seat in first class if one is available. Gate agents are usually accommodating, unless the family request is something extremely wanting to sit together but in the first row of seats to the nearest coach emergency exit.
sstuff 2
The story reports that “Schumer is asking Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to *issue rules* [ emphasis mine ] preventing airlines from charging parents more to sit next to kids.” That is quite different from bringing it up in Congress.

Wasn’t it Schumer who “persuaded” USAir (with an offer they couldn’t refuse) to maintain their ITH-LGA service level when the traffic could not support that frequency?
Brian Bishop 2
Well of course. I was being a bit sarcastic with the "act of congress" phraseology. Why bother with the tediousness of legislating when you can get an unaccountable bureaucrat to invoke a regulatory requirement that accomplishes the same thing. Typical.
Yazoo 2
Why am I not surprised that this was started by a politician from New York and a Democrat.
Let's take airlines out of the picture. You're taking your family to Disney and you want adjoining hotel rooms or at least rooms next to each other. What do you do? 1)You start booking rooms early before the hotel is full. For some resorts that might be a year or more in advance. 2) You use travel points to upgrade or receive preferential treatment/service.(extra fees) 3)You pay (extra fees) for a premium room/suite that has the higher chance or providing your request.
What you don't do: 1)Expect the hotel to move someone from a room just to accommodate you. 2)Expect adjoining rooms with a discount rate or room booked from a discount ticket broker. 3)Expect the government to create a law telling a business how to do their business.
Get the government out of it.
Adrian Nagle 2
I just traveled with Delta alone with my four young children and was a little upset when I was almost the last to board. Apparently, Delta only allows early boarding if you have children under 2. I was embarrassed that my children had to climb over the aisle occupant while I tried to help move their backpacks. Not that they were bad, but I know can be annoying to a non-parent.

I'm not sure I understand some of the comments here. If I buy 6 center seat tickets (presumably without the add on fees), the airline will move people out of their premium seats so we can sit together? I doubt that very much. Every flight I've flown this past year has been overbooked, so I'm not sure how the gate agents can rearrange so many seats together.

Airlines are certainly encouraging people to avoid flying. I consider road trips more often now.

I'll book the cheapest seats and let the non-parents complain about sitting with a bunch of children without parents as they talk to each other over them. I'm sure these fees won't last long.

I'm against government control, but when the airlines start acting like this, they bring it on themselves.

I'm waiting for the day when there is no airfare charged. Everyone flies free, just have to pay for a seat cushion fee, flotation device fee, fuel fee, boarding fee, drink fee, air filter fee.....
sparkie624 2
Please let them sit with there parents. I do not want them sitting with me.
kldfligtrrt 2
yeah, what if the airlines sits you child next to a child molester. My grandson would drive them nuts. He is good but very curious. Maybe they should bring back buisness class, this would solve everything.
sparkie624 1
A few airlines are bringing it back.
Chip Hermes 2
And here I was, sitting around, wondering what the government thought should change when it comes to the airlines' business models.
KC Hoover 1
You know the government really has nothing better to do than change the airline business model. Unemployment being so low, fuel prices are so low, the real estate market is so healthy, and everything is going along so well for the economy. NOT
Not that Congress needs to get involved on the following, but this brings up the point that the Industry needs to take a look at the issue of family travel and possible increased revenue. For example, a child that is 1 year 11 months and 30 days is free-of-charge to be a "lap child" or "infant in arms", but like rolling of the odometer at 2 years, you have to pay for an adult fare. For this reason, we have decided not to fly on 2 separate occasions in the recent past, due to cost and the increase in miles needed for free tix. What the industry needs to realize is that it's revenue lost in this case. Yes, while not centrally on-topic for this particular act, children that are (for example) 2-5 years should have a reduced fare, or even be offered a discount on multiple travelers. There doesn't even seem to be a mid-level freq flyer status that allows a kiddo to tag along at a reduced rate (or even many top-tier plans). If fewer flights and fuller aircraft are the plan, this seems to fit (and hey, they and their luggage weigh less too).

These days, as a business traveler and father, I'm already getting screwed out of: 1) Reduced number of flights in-general; 2) Increased difficulty in attaining award seats for just myself, let alone the rest of the family; 3) Fare increases, and; 4) no flexibility on fares for children over 2 years of age. 5 years ago on Northwest, I was able to fly a total of 4 adults from Kansas City to Hawaii and back for 120,000 miles, got upgraded to 1st class, and even earned miles for the trip. Now, we can't even get 2 people to Florida for that, and that's adjusted for "miles inflation"! You can bet there was some serious loyalty in return for NWA's generosity in those days, plus the flights/connections made my job more efficient while keeping the airline profitable. I'm sure lots of us PAX can "insert the same story here" for any number of airlines, just a short time ago.

I understand that a lot has changed in the last several years. What hasn't changed is the need for people to fly places without either the airline or passenger going broke doing it.
randj5333 1
As a child, my dad worked for the airlines and we routinely flew standby all the way from Kansas City to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was a delight to sit away from my parents and sister. The other passengers were fortunate we weren't sitting together; few things are worse on a flight than whining, fighting children.
slgordon3 1
People here are overwhelmingly against government telling airlines what to do, even with relatively small things like this, and that is of course understandable. It's ironic to me though, because once upon a time (prior to 1978) the entire industry was deeply regulated by the federal government and this was just accepted as a fact of life. Of course regulation had a lot of drawbacks, and personally i can't say that i'm a supporter of that level of regulation, but many in the US airline industry felt that it was stronger and healthier prior to deregulation. Again, i'm not endorsing regulation.
sparkie624 1
I agree with you 100 percent on this one. I do not like the regulation, but worked in the industry when it was heavily regulated. As with anything, there was good and bad parts of it. But the Airlines were not in financial problems either. A lot has changed, some of the better, some for the worse. Overall, I think that we are better off with a smaller government intervention.... Things seem to work a lot better. I do however like the idea that parents need to sit with there kids, even though most parents won't discipline there kids anyway.
slgordon3 1
Well said. And yeah, honestly i would really prefer not to sit next to some kid whose parent is sitting in some unknown row elsewhere on the plane. Not that i have anything against kids, it has more to do with the fact that flying can be stressful and scary for them.
David Sims 1
The issue is not about how to pick seat assignments, its that many airlines are now charging for the privilege of doing so, and not just for premium seats. I recently booked a trip and had to pay something like $12.99 per segment to select even a regular seat. The airline even went as far as warning that if you did not pick seat assignments, there was no guarantee of being seated near traveling partners.
Brian Bishop 1
Sounds like AAY


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