United Airlines is rolling out a new dynamic seat map that it says will make it easier for families to sit together at no additional cost starting in March.
While other airlines facilitate families through a more manual process, or even simply by recommending families book far in the advance, United’s new seat map will dynamically find available advanced seats at the time of booking, reviewing all available free economy seats first and then, if no options are available, looking at complimentary upgrades to available Preferred seats if needed.
If adjacent seats are not available for one reason or another, including last-minute bookings, full flights, or schedule changes, United will let passengers switch for free to a flight to the same destination that has available adjacent seats. That policy includes waiving any fare difference between the original and the new flight.
United says it designed the policy in order to make it easier for children under 12 years old to sit next to an adult in their traveling party for free. It also says that the policy will help flyers avoid asking agents to facilitate seat swaps at the gate and avoid asking fellow passengers to change their travel plans in order to help their families stay together.
"In an era where more families are working in a hybrid environment, they're traveling more often – and they're flying United," said Linda Jojo, Chief Customer Officer for United.
"We're focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat. We look forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year,” she added.
United’s Basic Economy tickets are included in the new policy. United Polaris, First Class, and Economy Plus seats are not included.