In a new notice, the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection is “urging” airlines to “do everything in their power” to keep children 13 and under seated with their families.
New Notice Designed to Drive Airline Action
Airline seating policies which could separate parents from children is a contentious topic. In 2017, a gay Florida couple accused Southwest Airlines of discrimination, when they claimed a flight attendant did not allow them to board during the family group with their adopted child. In 2019, the Transportation Department received over 130 complaints about airlines separating parents and children aboard an aircraft.
With the new notice, the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection “wants airlines to do everything in their power” to make sure that children 13 years old and younger are sat alongside their accompanying adults at no additional cost. The rule is especially apt for those in “basic economy,” where seats cannot be pre-selected prior to check-in.
“Although the Department receives a low number of complaints from consumers about family seating, there continue to be complaints of instances where young children, including a child as young as 11 months, are not seated next to an accompanying adult,” the notice reads. “If airlines’ seating policies and practices are barriers to a child sitting next to an adult family member or other accompanying adult family member, the Department will consider additional action consistent with its authorities.”
Because the notice falls short of a rule, airlines are not obligated to change their policies today. However, the office will review airline practices over the next four months to determine if additional action is needed.
No major carrier has commented on the Transportation Department notice.
Source: frugal travel guy