DOT releases dashboard showing which airlines let families sit together at no extra charge

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks to the Transportation Research Board gathering in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

Consumers can now see which airlines guarantee that families can sit together a no extra cost, after a Department of Transportation dashboard debuted Monday as the Biden administration tries to eliminate what it calls “junk fees.”

The tool shows which airlines have committed to allowing children under 13 to sit fee-free next to an accompanied adult. The dashboard lists just three major airlines — Alaska, American and Frontier — that have made the commitment.

President Biden promised a crackdown on “junk fees” in his State of the Union address last month, pinpointing airlines for not showing full ticket prices upfront and saying they should refund money if flights are canceled or delayed. 

“My administration is also taking on ‘junk’ fees, those hidden surcharges too many businesses use to make you pay more,” he said at the time. “For example, we’re making airlines show you the full ticket price upfront and refund your money if your flight is canceled or delayed.”

“Baggage fees are bad enough — they can’t just treat your child like a piece of luggage.”

A release from the Transportation Department highlighted that no major airlines guaranteed fee-free family seating before the Biden administration took over but since then three airlines have made such a commitment.

“Parents traveling with young kids should be able to sit together without an airline forcing them to pay junk fees,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “We have been pressing airlines to guarantee family seating without tacking on extra charges, and now we’re seeing some airlines start to make this common-sense change.”

The dashboard also shows airline policies for cancellations and delays, including whether they allow customers to rebook flights for no additional costs or if they provide services and accommodations for customers who are stuck with long delays and cancellations.

The aggregation of such information comes after delays and cancellations around the holiday season ravaged the transportation industry, leaving customers stranded in airports at the height of the travel season.

Tags airlines Biden junk fees Pete Buttigieg Transportation Department

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