U.S. DOT Unveils New Dashboard that Tracks Which Airlines Seat Families Togetherby Daniel McCarthy /
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Monday unveiled a brand-new online dashboard that will help travelers and travel advisors identify which airlines will seat families with children under 13 together at no extra charge.
The dashboard is designed to help parents avoid paying an extra fee to sit with their children when they are flying, and is a response to an increasing number of consumer complaints that have played a role in changing some airline policies, the DOT said.
“As recently as a month ago, no U.S. airlines guaranteed fee-free family seating. Now, after weeks of USDOT and the Biden Administration pressing airlines to improve their customer service, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Frontier Airlines have stepped forward to guarantee that parents can sit with their young children without getting nickel and dimed,” the DOT said in its announcement on Monday.
“While this represents significant progress, USDOT is not stopping there – and has already begun work on a common-sense rulemaking to ban airlines from charging families junk fees to sit together. “
The dashboard is simple—it keeps track of whether or not an airline will help a family stay together, guaranteeing adjacent seats for young children, during their flight. It then links to each airline’s customer policy website.
As of Monday, March 6, only three out of the 10 airlines that the DOT tracks have a green check on the dashboard—Alaska, American, and Frontier. In order to receive that green check, an airline must guarantee parents can sit next to children aged 13 and younger for free if adjacent seats are available when they book. The airlines must also include that guarantee as part of their customer service plan.
There is currently no rule that forces airlines to sit families together—the DOT said it is working on one, but the process can be lengthy. Congress could enact legislation to do so, and the White House says it is planning on sending a proposal in the coming weeks, but, for right now, the DOT is making sure that families are aware of each airline’s policy beforehand.
The dashboard can be found here, alongside the DOT’s Cancellation and Delay Dashboard.