“Families Flying Together Act of 2012” Introduced to Congress

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Representative Jerrold Nadler from New York has introduced a bill to Congress called the “Families Flying Together Act of 2012” in an effort to ensure that families with children sit together on airplanes.  I kind of shake my head at the idea that this is something that government needs to be involved with, but the sad reality is that perhaps that is necessary.  As you likely know, many airlines charge for some “premium” seats on the airplane.  On some airlines, like American Airlines, it seems that the majority of the seats on the plane (other than perhaps middle seats) are labeled as premium seats.  On other airlines you have to pay a surcharge if you want any advance seat assignment.  Needless to say, this, combined with flights going out at or near capacity, has made it more and more difficult for families to ensure that their party has seats together on the plane.  This is especially true for those without elite status or the ability/willingness to pay extra for premium seat assignments.

Where you sit on the plane may sound frivolous to some, but for parents with small children it is very important.  Even I have had the experience of my husband, myself, and my (at the time) one-year-old daughter all assigned to seats on different rows on the plane when we had to change flights at the last minute.  We were able to convince people to trade seats so that we could sit together, but it wasn’t easy.  Had we been assigned three middle seats, convincing others to trade would have been even more difficult.  There are currently no regulations I am aware of in the US that state that children must be seated next to their parents on aircraft.  Airlines really will assign a seat to a one-year-old that is away from any parent or guardian.  The expectation I assume is that the child won’t actually end up sitting without a guardian, but they absolutely will assign the seats in that manner.

If you plan ahead and are diligent about obtaining and maintaining seat assignments on flights you can avoid this problem 95% of the time, but even then, cancellations, last minute changes, and aircraft substitutions can all throw a wrench in your advance planning.  When that happens you are at the mercy of the airline to try to re-seat you, but if the plane is full, then you are at the mercy of politely asking other customers to trade seats with you.  The majority of the time this strategy works just fine, but it really isn’t fair to require others to have to move at the last minute, and it also adds significant extra stress to the traveling family when you don’t know where everyone will be seated until you are done trading for seats on-board the aircraft.

What I would not want from any act or regulation is for it to become even harder for families to get seats on flights at all.  For example, in the case where seats together were not available on the flight I took last minute with my family, it wouldn’t be helpful for an act to prohibit an airline from selling us seats at all just because they were not assigned next to each other.  That would end up making it harder for families to travel, not easier.

For better or worse the “Families Flying Together Act” has been brought about by Rep. Nadler.  The bill states the following:

    (a) In General- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue regulations directing each air carrier to–
      (1) establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight; and
      (2) make the policy described in paragraph (1) available to the public on an appropriate Internet Web site of the air carrier.
    (b) Definitions- In this section, the following definitions apply:
      (1) AIR CARRIER- The term `air carrier’ has the meaning given that term in section 40102(a) of title 49, United States Code.
      (2) FAMILY- The term `family’ means a grouping of individuals that includes, at a minimum–
        (A) a child who is 12 years of age or younger; and
        (B) an individual who is–
          (i) 18 years of age or older; and
              (ii) responsible for accompanying that child, including a parent or legal guardian of that child.

I like that the bill defines a child as 12 years of age or younger.  That seems like a logical cut-off to me, as many teenagers are likely happier sitting a couple rows away from mom and dad.  It also seems reasonable that “to the extent possible, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight….is seated together”.  I’m a relatively simple person, and this bill seems to have a relatively simple purpose with simple wording.  It is sad that a bill like this need even be considered, but I am hearing more and more reports of families who are having difficulty sitting next to their young children.  Honestly, I find it a bit silly that we have gotten to that point, but the reality is that we have.

Is government involvement really the answer?  I don’t know, but I am happy that the issue is getting attention since it is a growing concern for many traveling families.  Additionally, I think my kid is cute and all, but I am not so naive as to think that a stranger actually wants to be the one keeping her entertained on a flight while mom and dad read magazines from several rows away.  In my mind, nobody wins when families have to fit to sit together, and nobody would lose if it were set up that way from the beginning.

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Comments

  1. I’d be a little worried about the consequences of a bill like this depending on how it was written. For example, I was on a flight where a parent got upgraded and ditched their four year old in coach who started screaming and freaking out. Someone in first switched with the kid so the kid could be near their parent, but I could imagine the parent later suing the airline for letting them take the upgrade without also upgrading the child. I do think it should be airline common sense policy to people under a certain age to be seated with the adult. Even if just for the sanity of the flight attendants!

  2. Who knew that the “Families Flying Together Act of 2012” was introduced? We didn’t hear about this. Thank you for sharing.

    It seems extraneous that a bill like this had to be introduced. It makes sense to seat families together on flights. Yes, it’s an inconvenience to other passengers when a family’s flight was canceled and they had to be booked on another flight, but the ‘good’ karma will come back to the person who switches seats. Like you said, teenagers won’t have a problem sitting a few rows away from the family.

    Let’s hope that everyone will cooperate on flights and be kind enough to give up their seats to accommodate families. The quicker everyone’s taken care of, the faster the pilots can take-off and get everyone home safely.

  3. It is ridiculous that an airline would deliberately separate small children from their parents in order to attempt to extract an extra $11 dollars from some passenger.
    .
    If airlines are willing to engage in this anti-social behavior (bad both for the families and EVERYONE ELSE on the airplane) then yes, federal regulation is appropriate.

  4. First, this isn’t something the government should be doing. Second, as with all things government related the unintended consequences will end up hurting us in the long run – no matter how “well worded” something may be.

  5. Funny how short sighted and selfish airlines are. AA refused to upgrade my wife to Business to Europe while I was in the back with our 2 year old daughter. The reason given was Families have to sit together, its an FAA rule. When it works in the pax favor (splitting up families) it is against regulation. When it works for the airline, it is magically okay.

  6. What a ridiculous piece of legislation, born simply from the base desire of feeble politicians to grandstand. Like the 3-hour ground delay rule, I have no doubt that the consequences of this will be bad for families as a whole and only benefit the very very very rare family who has been required to sit apart (as well as lawyers, of course).

  7. really! this is what I am paying congress to do? One more reason we are headed down the tubes. I don’t want my representatives tying to fix issues like these. They are hardly capable agreeing to pass a simple statement that the sun will rise in the morning, and agree on it. There are WAY bigger fish to fry. When it comes down to it the AIRLINES should be dong the right thing. And we as customers should force that with our wallets. I am a parent and i have kids i fly with, and there is no way i want congress or government in this issue or debate.

  8. Definitely an important issue MP, I’m glad to see the bill introduced even though it won’t go anywhere. I suspect that any naysayers in the comments don’t have small kids that they are concerned about being separated from. Even though I know it’s extortion, I always pay UAL the extra $39 per seat for E+ for this very reason.

  9. Let’s see – I book 200 days out and obtain my preferred aisle seat. A family books 15 days out and I get bumped to a middle seat in another row further back in the airplane. Where’s the “good karma” in this? When did flying become a right? The back 1 or 2 rows in an airplane could be set aside by the airlines for late booking families. Besides, it gets those families closer to the lav’s and the changing tables (where equipped). Just as an F.Y.I., I am a grandfather —

  10. Families should not be complaining about seat assignments unless there is some sort of missed connection, equipment change, etc that requires them to be placed on a different flight. Either choose a different flight that has enough standard seats next to each other or pay for the upgrade to economy comfort. Maybe airlines could provide the child a free EC seat assuming the parent is already paying for one. I hate being guilted into switching seats by families because they booked seperate seats. If I booked earlier, got upgraded or paid for an EC seat, I should be entitled to sit in it. The only time I don’t mind is when it is a better or equal seat, but I hate that families book seperate seats with the expectation of begging everyone around them to move.

    Btw, our government is hopeless if they are focusing on these issues. I saw a recent article that said a cat has been mayor in some Alaska town because no one trusted a human for the job!

  11. Gary Leff is right on the money here. I am surprised and disappointed you would suggest “perhaps (this proposed law) is necessary.” It is not. There is absolutely no limit to the ideas that liberals come up with to expand the role of government. This is merely the latest example. Since we’re running a $1.3 trillion federal deficit, how much money do you believe we should borrow to enforce this sappy idea?

  12. Askia – I am a “naysayer” as you say, and I do have children, that I travel with. I don’t want to be seated away from them, BUT this is not a problem for our crazy and inept congress to solve. Their “solutions” suck to be frank.

  13. Those giving knee-jerk opinions against this sensible regulation need to ask themselves:

    How would you feel if you were seated next to an unaccompanied 4 year old boy? What if he throws up? What if your drink spills on him during turbulence? What if he needs help with his tray table? What if his finger gets pinched in the tray table while you’re helping him (assuming you do help him)?

    In other words, how would you feel if parents don’t give in to the airlines’ extortionate demand that they pay extra so that their child doesn’t wind up crying for the whole trip that he wants his parent?

    This regulation protects you (nearly) as much as it protects families.

  14. I have small children. I like to be seated next to them. No one else wants to be seated next to them. Excellent.

    This bill is ridiculous. Choose your seats in advance. If it is necessary, pay the premium to choose seats together. Truthfully, if you can’t afford the $10-25 per seat to sit together, you shouldn’t be traveling. That may sound cold, but there are a lot of things that I’d like to do that I can’t afford. “Affordable airfares” are not a basic American right.

    Sorry that I sound harsh, but this bill is pure and simple grandstanding.

  15. I have flown often with my now 3 & 5 yr old boys. I am opposed to this. Govt involvement in matters like this is never a good thing. Things would be better if govt would get out of about 93% of what they think they need to butt into.
    We often book seats in pairs so each of us is with one kid, but we don’t all have to be together. In our flights I’ve never had to pay for an upgraded seat or even the early bird pass with southwest and I’ve always been able to get seats with at least one parent and one child together. It can be done!
    As far as another parent leaving their kid beside you to choose to sit elsewhere: that rare parent probably has more parenting issues than what’s happening on that flight.

  16. come on… the entitlement that families (and apperently after reading seth’s post yesterday “Senior Seniors”) have sometimes…

    if you want to sit together, pay for it, and find an airline that lets you. involving the government is ridiculous

    • I do pay for premium seats to sit together comfortably with my family, but I disagree that families should have to do that to sit next to their two year old.

  17. @UpAndAway: “As far as another parent leaving their kid beside you to choose to sit elsewhere: that rare parent probably has more parenting issues than what’s happening on that flight.”

    That is exactly the point. This is not a voluntary charge for an extra service (better seats), this is an extortionate charge that essentially CANNOT be declined by any family that wants to take care of their children and respect the other passengers.

  18. Is this the best they can come up with? Isn’t NY like going broke or something? A bill to enforce seating on an airplane when all the airlines do just fine at that. Wow. This guy has way too much time on his hands and he should be voted out of office. Next will be a bill to enforce “healthy” snacks. Peanuts and pretzels will be out. Our government is defunct. They all need to go.

  19. Some airlines are already doing this in the form of blocking seats for assignment at the airport.

    Delta blocks an average of 15-30 seats depending on the size of the aircraft for assignment at the airport. You can’t even select those seats during OLCI, only an agent can assign those seats. They are reserved for three groups of people:

    1. Those with severe mobility disabilities
    2. Families
    3. Unaccompained Minors

    United blocks only 2-4 seats on the domestic sectors, and I do think they need to block more non-E+ seats for families, etc.

    My only gripe with families is that they expect the entire family [4-6 people] to sit together just because they only have one toddler. That is over the top. If a family of three is traveling together, the airlines should at least put one parent together with the kid, but not force someone to move so the other parent can sit with his/her family. This has happened many times when we were growing up and usually mom or dad would sit with me and my mom/dad would sit with my sister [we are only 2 3/4 years apart]. Works just fine. We do not demand or expect all FOUR to sit together, just at least one parent+one kid.

    Don’t get me started with parents to expect their nanny to sit with them too, so she take care of their children for them. I have seen that before.

  20. I would love for airlines to implement a policy similar to this proposal, but I’m really against the government legislating it. More micromanaging on things that don’t really matter will only meant that our prices or the inconvenience of flying will increase.

    In my experience, gate agents have usually very good in accommodating me with my three year old. In more than 50 flight segments flown with a baby/toddler, I’ve NEVER had to ask a fellow passenger to switch seats on board, even with two recent cancellations and last-minute rebooking on other flights. My advice is to be nice to the gate agents and be proactive in checking your reservations along the way in case of equipment changes that result in seat changes. And, in those few cases where you encounter an airline that makes you pay for a seat assignment, just pay (I’ve only had to do this once, with a deeply discounted AirTran fare and the assignment cost was just $10 per seat).

    I think a lot of the issues arise with people who are not frequent fliers, who don’t know how to navigate the seat assignment process and then freak out when they don’t get the seats they need in the first instance. They then berate the gate agents in unproductive ways and then bother fellow passengers when they don’t get what they need. I do fault these people for their bad behavior, but I also recognize that air travel these days is frustrating and mysterious, and likely to bring out the worst in people who don’t know how to navigate the experience. Here’s to hoping for improvements more generally!

  21. I can’t see this bill doing anything if passed. All it requires is that airlines develop and publish a policy. It does not say that the government gets to decide what that policy would be. From a business perspective, I think it would make a lot of sense for airlines to have a policy on this (both for families and for others).

  22. @Golfingboy: good points all. The essential issue is that children not be seated by themselves, rather than having very large groups seated together. If the eventual regulation were expressed that way (where possible, airlines must not seat a child without at least one adjust member of the family next to them) it would bring the airlines back into compliance with civilized behavior.

  23. People with kids think they’re entitled to so much already! Stop it! If you’re not smart enough to plan ahead, don’t inconvinience others just because you have kids. That’s enough!

  24. This isn’t about sitting together, it’s about not paying the fee. Having pay seats increases the odds you can sit together.

    Pay the fee and sit together. I’m happy to fund the local schools with my taxes even though I don’t have children. I draw the line well before free seats for families.

  25. Has ANYONE seen any child, at anytime, sit on an airplane surrounded by stangers? I think not. The airlines have been very accommodating in ensuring this situation doesn’t occur IF they are advised pre-boarding. This ridiculous proposed legisation is totally unwarranted and indicative of the silliness of some of our elected federal officials representing New York City.

  26. How come United doesn’t allow to choose the seat when you purchase the ticket? I was told to choose the seat 24 hours prior to boarding. But Virgin America let me choose the seat When I purchase the ticket.

  27. Another disappointed reader that you would endorse such legislation. If peoples without elite status want to sit with their children, they can pay to do so just like the rest of us when we want to sit near other adults in our party.

  28. I’m always weary when Congress tries to “fix” things, but to me, I don’t see how this bill really fixes the problem. It requires that the Secretary “ensure, to the extent practicaable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight…” That is already available–just for an extra fee. Unless the Secretary implements a rule stating that for groups traveling with a person 12 years of age or younger, the airline may not charge a higher price per seat than the lowest seat-price paid, then nothing would change. Of course, that is unfair to other customers who do pay extra for “premium seats.”

    The only way Congress could “fix” this family-seating problem by statute (without statutorily abolishing some airline regulations which would make airline operation less costly ) would be to prohibit airlines from charging surcharges on seat assignments (similar to the regulation at issue above, but at least then everyone would be treated the same). That way, a family would be able to purchase 3 seats together, in the same row, all for the same price (assuming such seats were available). Of course, then the price of everyone’s ticket would increase. Additionally, if the aforementioned regulation was drafted, airlines could also get rid of their different seating fees–and just charge everyone more.

    Long analysis short–Congress “fixing” this problem will likely just lead airlines to charging more for all seats because the airlines are going to make sure they are collecting their extra seat fees.

  29. Terrible idea for a new law.

    I can understand the need to not seat a young child alone. Since the airlines permit unaccompanied minors at age 5, this would be a better cutoff age than the law’s proposed age 12. When flight changes happen, those families can wait for a flight with seats together and/or try stand by while gate agents ask for volunteers to be bumped from their seat assignment (a new opportunity for points/voucher… same flight, different seat to accomodate a family and you get $$$ as comp)

    The same families who oppose paying for a seat assignment, are often the same families who look only at the at the lowest fare available which is the reason the airlines have added so many ancillary fees. As others have said, check seating charts before you book the flight and either pay for an assigned seat, if necessary, or book a different flight!

    Families don’t want to pay for the seat assignment, yet this an voluntary extra service (desire to be seated together). No different than bag fees… I don’t get better luggage service, I just get to check a bag which is necessary if I can’t lift a carryon into the overhead bin.

  30. According to the legislation as written, what happens if a 17 year old teen mom wants to travel with her child (infant – 1+ years old)? They won’t be covered by the law, will they?

    What if my wife and I purchase a ticket six months out, spend the effort to monitor our seats, and are excited to sit together on the two-seat side of an MD; however, we get separated by a family that either purchased their tickets one month out from Christmas (where there are only middle seats), decided not to go through the “hassle” of choosing seats at the time of purchase, or didn’t pay attention when the airline made an aircraft change and rebooked wonky.

    While I disagree with this law, I would be behind a requirement that the airline ensure all members on the same reservation are seated the same (together or separate) should a hardware change occur. It does frustrate me that the computer randomly assigns seats to a party, when the original booking had the group together. This should be an FAA requirement, though.

  31. I disagree with this on a few grounds.

    First, the age. Even if this was the go ahead, the cut-off should be based on immediate dependance (say, the ability to go to the washroom entirely without assistance). So we’ll say age 4 or 5. Beyond that age, proximity is a convenience or desire, not need.

    Taking that into account, the ‘problem’ is “young children forced to sit apart from their parents”, NOT “young children assigned seating apart from their parents”. In the end, young children end up next to their parents, for many reasons, not the least of which is the obvious threat, “if you don’t move, you get to babysit my 1yo for the next 4 hours.” So its extremely unlikely that the problem happens on anything nearing a regular basis, let alone enough to justify congressional action.

    I agree that moving once on the aircraft can be stressful, but there is already an option to that: purchasing seating ahead of time. Its a cost benefit analysis that all flyers have to make and I don’t see why families should be exempt. Don’t want to stress? Buy a seat. If you don’t want to, their may be stress involved.

    Finally and I think most importantly:

    If this passes, nothing will change. At all.

    The proposed law doesn’t require that a family is assigned seating together for that flight it says “is seated together during that flight”. So the following policy would be legal: “We offer advance seat selection (for a fee/free). If a family is unable or unwilling to utilize this option and is assigned seating apart, we will, to the extent practicable, assist in seating the family together once on-board the aircraft.” You may have seen this wording before, it’s nearly every airline’s current policy.

  32. LarryInNYC: “Back into compliance with civilized behavior?” LOL

    Is it wrong that I imagine you saying that in falsetto holding a little teacup with only your thumb and index fingers while you fan yourself vigorously?

  33. The current system works. I just flew Southwest on full flight. Two sets of parent + kid needed to be seat together. Flight attendant asked for volunteers. Done.

    We don’t need more government regulations.

  34. I think 12 is an okay age cut-off, but I also would see some logic in having it be 5 for a regulation since it is the age that an unaccompanied minor can fly. Heck, at 5 I took my first flight ever and I flew by myself. However, kids under that age absolutely do need to be seated next to at least one parent.

    Should the government really be required to be involved in this? Probably not, but if the end result of all this is that airlines develop official and stated policies that keep families together, at least for very young children, then that is a win in my book.

    Parents absolutely are semi-bullied into paying more to sit next to their young kids. You should pay more if you want a better seat – not because you are afraid you will be separated from your toddler or preschool aged child.

    Other people who pay more for their seats also should not be impacted by families who are scrambling at the last minute to sit together – this could be solved by doing exactly what some suggest and encouraging folks to be diligent about their seat assignments from the beginning, and then holding back some seats in the back, or wherever for families who have seating issues at the last minute.

    It’s not about being entitled, it is about common sense. Sadly, it is lacking at times, and that is why this whole issue is even being discussed in the first place.

  35. Just more left wing government control. If families want to make sure that they are sitting together, pay for reserved seats and book longer connecting times (as we do). Keep the government out of business and our lives. If there is a great demand for this requirement, some airline will adopt it on their own. That is the great thing about free enterprise..

  36. “Parents absolutely are semi-bullied into paying more to sit next to their young kids.” … oh well. then pay more to sit next to your kids.

    as someone said above, i’m semi-bullied into paying taxes to fund public schools that i don’t use

  37. It’s not that I’m opposed to families sitting together, but it’s an idea that has costs associated with it, and my concern is that people who are passionately in support of this legislation may not be thinking about these costs. Personally, as a United Premier 1K member, yes, I have the privilege and benefit of not having to pay extra to ensure that my wife and children are able to sit in the Economy Plus section for no extra charge *at the point of ticketing or check-in.* But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t already paid for the privilege and benefit via my extensive travels. MommyPoints, you raised issues I have also thought of, namely, what if there aren’t seats together at the time of booking, or what happens if there is an aircraft downgauge such that there are fewer seats and it is no longer possible to seat a family together? Do you impose the restriction of “must be seated together” in only the Economy section, but not the Economy Plus section? What about families that travel in First Class, or in cases where a family member is upgraded to First Class? What then? What about family-heavy travel routes, say to Orlando. Sometimes it is not possible to get families together on such family-packed flights. My worry about legislation like this is that in the end, it does more harm than good. The choices we are talking about are not free, and flying is not a right, it is a privilege. More often than not, there are choices that will enable families who choose to sit together to be able to do so (and not all airlines will charge such fees, i.e., Southwest), but it also means that such families may have to make tradeoffs between sitting together for free, or flying their preferred carrier/date/time.

  38. Americans are all so funny sometimes. So many things turn into an irrelevant debate about the role of government.

    Let’s just look at some simple facts

    – should a toddler be sat with a related adult? Yes.

    – today, can a toddler be seperated through equipment change regardless of prepayment, seat assignment etc.? Yes.

    – is this acceptable? No.

    – Does this law address this? Yes.

    – so something that is not desirable is prevented. Does it matter that this is a government action? No.

    Logic, cause and effect. Let’s cut the political nonsense and just look at what makes sense and accept a reasonable way to achieve it.

    Steve

  39. @srptraveller – I agree with you that this is not and should not be a debate about the role of government. It is, however, a debate that needs to consider costs. The choice to be seated together is not a free choice without costs incurred.

    Should toddlers and small children be seated with at least one parent or guardian (but not necessarily the entire family sitting together)? Yes, I agree. Is it acceptable to me that a small child should be separated from at least one parent or guardian on a commercial aircraft? No. But should a family be allowed to involuntarily displace another person or persons from their seat(s), especially if that person has paid for the right to sit in a particular seat (i.e., an aisle vs. a middle)? No, I do not agree.

    As I stated in an earlier comment, as a UA Premier 1K, *when I make reservations* I may not have to pay for the privilege of choosing premium seats that keep my family intact and adjacent on a plane, but I have already paid for the privilege via my significant patronage of said airline.

    Travelers not having elite status will incur additional costs. Therefore, families without elite status will incur additional costs.

    And what if a family sees an airfare for a flight that is much cheaper and more convenient, but no two seats are available together? Should the family not be allowed to buy a tickets on that flight? Is that what should happen?

    I am one of those west coast liberals, but this is not a piece of legislation that I can endorse, because my significant time spent in the air tells me that the proposed solution will only force higher costs on all travelers and will ultimately limit choice.

  40. Don’t forget that there are other groups of persons that need to stay together, for example, my son is a young adult with special needs. He needs supervision more than some young children. And what about elderly parents with altzheimers? On our last flight, there was an elderly gentleman who seemed fine but had a travelling companion to assist. This issue should not be considered just for young children. Otherwise, all kinds of persons with good reasons for sitting together would get separated. I agree with others who think that parents should plan adhead and pay if necessary to reserve seats together. In an emergency, people will just have to give. It seems obvious that a young child can’t be left without atleast one “helper”. But I would be really concerned if someone forced me and my son to sit apart to accomodate a family group. Apart from my worry, he would probably disturb others, who would get annoyed. This could agitate him and cause behavior problems. If I can plan ahead and reserve seats, so can other parents.

  41. Quote: “Americans are all so funny sometimes. So many things turn into an irrelevant debate about the role of government… Logic, cause and effect. Let’s cut the political nonsense and just look at what makes sense and accept a reasonable way to achieve it.
    Steve”
    Steve, this is the BEST part about being an American; we enjoy solving these problems ourselves without government intervention. It happens daily on flights all around our great nation with little to no ill effect, without the need for someone completely disconnected from the issue at hand making a blanket rule that could very easily cause more hardship than good. Laws are sacred, hard drawn lines that a majority of citizens will follow regardless of inconvenience or sensibility. To make a blanket rule like this undercuts our (the passengers and flight crew) flexibility and problem solving capability, as a reasonable solution may be rejected on the grounds that it would get the airline in trouble if reported.

  42. I can’t decide whether many of the posts here are hilarious or downright scary. The tantrums being thrown by people who I’m assuming consider themselves grown-ups regarding the fact that they’d want to keep a particular seat on a plane than allow a mother and child to sit together. How were you people brought up?

    Sadly some people seem to lack the intellectual capacity to distinguish between paying a fee for a better seat and paying (or not paying) for a mother and child to sit together (in seats which may or may not be regarded as favorable).

  43. To timmer1001 -AA requires you to split the upgraded person to a separate record in order to upgrade. With this you lose the ability to say “we’re a family traveling together” on other segments. If you aren’t willing to do that, don’t complain.

    I fly frequently with my 9 & 10 year old and have been since they were 6 weeks old. I agree that the government should keep out. If you want to sit together, plan in advance or pay for the seats.

  44. The most ludicrous part of it is age 12. If a child younger than that can fly as an unaccompanied minor, and thousands do it every day, then surely a child younger than 12 could fly on the same plane with a parent or guardian but not in the same row? I have lots of problems with other parts of it. How will they define a “family”? You can’t go by last names. How do they define “together”? Same row but the other side of the aisle? One seat in front of another? If a parent is with three children, do all four need to be in the same row? And if she’s bringing along three nephews or children of friends, do all seven need to be in the same row. I think gate agents, flight attendants and travelers in general try to help out in the case of toddlers. Let’s get the grandstanding politicians and the bureaucratic rulemakers out of it.

  45. This just happened to use this past weekend. They also had a 5 year old sitting by himself. We paid over $1200 each for our 4 tickets, preselected our seats, and still had our child by himself.

    I made a petition below, if you are interested in signing. Also, know that if you don’t agree that’s fine, just be fine with handling any emergency or nonemergency situations with that minor sitting next to you, regardless if you want to or not.

    http://www.causes.com/causes/809392-reintroduce-and-pass-h-r-6124-families-flying-together-act-of-2012

  46. I was just informed by FinnAir after we purchased that every seat preselected is for a fee. To get advanced seat assignments for our family flying transatlantic on three legs would be an additional 216 Euros, which I consider a family tax.

    We will likely pay because of the horrific travel experience we had traveling as a family on United as a family to Australia so my kids could meet their grandparents. I had an infant on my lap and the airline separated me from my husband and toddler on each flight. We eventually sat all together on each of our legs begging all the way as employees proved not that helpful during the busy Christmas season. The stress of doing this while getting infants and toddlers to gates quickly, while getting them changed/fed, with no pre-boarding for strollers and dawdling little ones, and little sympathy from fellow travelers left me a sleep deprived mess. Do previous posters really want to sit next to that or any mother separated from her children on a plane for hours?

    Relying on the kindest of strangers during peak travel times is not a reasonable solution for getting people who purchased their tickets together sitting together. But, as airplanes continue to seek ways to maximize their profit margins, these types of things will continue to happen. The market will not correct itself, because its a notoriously unprofitable industry. So, I kindly disagree with previous posters who think this is just another instance of the big arm of government.

    I will sign that petition and ask everyone I know to do the same.

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