Sen. Schumer asks airlines to drop preferred-seat fees for children, parents

New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) is calling for airlines to drop fees for window and aisle seats on their airplanes when they would result in children being separated from their parents.

Schumer said airlines implementing fees for "preferred" seats like window and aisle seats could result in small children being separated from their families if their parents cannot afford to pay more than the original price of their ticket.

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"The last thing an airline should be doing is making it more difficult for parents and children to have access to each other," he said in a letter Tuesday to the lobbying group for airlines Airlines For America (A4A). 

"I am urging your member airlines to reconsider the practice, particularly when it comes to consecutive seating for families with children," Schumer continued. "A parent should not have to pay a premium to supervise and protect their child on an airplane and abstaining from charging such premiums should be the industry standard."

Schumer said a family of four traveling on a flight plan that includes a layover could have to pay as much as $200 to sit together if an airline charged $25 for a preferred seat.

"Preferred seating fees have had the effect of severely limiting the availability of window and aisle seats, making it more difficult for families, particularly with children, to sit in consecutive seat assignments without incurring substantial additional cost," he wrote. "Flying with children is a stressful endeavor for any parent and saddling them with additional fees or the burden of not being able to attend to their children while flying only makes this experience more difficult."

Airlines for America said in a statement provided to The Hill that the airline industry takes the needs of all passengers who desire to sit together seriously.

"Airlines have always worked cooperatively with their customers to seat parties, including those traveling with children, together, and that has not changed," the A4A statement said.

"In a market as intensely competitive as the airline industry, the customer wins — having ultimate ability to vote with their spending on varying products that are priced differently," the statement continued. "As with all other products and industries, it is the market that can — and should — determine how air travel is priced, not the government."