The Transportation Department released a new dashboard Monday showing which airlines guarantee families to sit together at no extra cost, as the Biden administration takes steps. breach on so-called “junk fees”.
The new tool shows which airlines seat families with young children together at no extra charge, and which airlines charge families extra.
American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines the first US airlines to eliminate such fees by writing the warranty into customer service plans, the DOT announced Monday. Junk charges are a huge money generator for airlines, hotels and other industries, but they can cost customers far more than they expect to pay.
“Parents traveling with young children should be able to sit together without the airline forcing them to pay unnecessary fees,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement on Monday. “We’ve been putting pressure on airlines to guarantee family seating at no extra charge, and now we’re seeing some airlines begin to make this sensible change.”
He added: “All airlines need to do this as soon as possible, even as we move forward with developing a rule making this a requirement worldwide.”
Prior to the announcements by the three airlines, no US carrier had guaranteed free family seating.
Last July, the DOT announced a policy for US airlines to ensure that children 13 years of age or younger can sit with an accompanying adult at no extra charge. A four-month review of airline policies found that none of them were compliant.
The DOT is currently developing a rule that would require small children to be seated next to an accompanying adult.
On the dashboard, customers can check the free family seating policy from the list of carriers, saving them from having to go around on different airlines’ websites. Airlines like American get the green check if they guarantee that a child under 13 and an accompanying adult can sit next to each other at no extra charge, regardless of fare type.
These moves come after President Biden State of the Union address this month it said it would ban so-called “junk fees,” including airline fees, for family members to sit with young children.
The Biden administration has proposed the Unwanted Payment Prevention Act, which would eliminate a variety of fraudulent fees, including airline seat selection fees, as well as surprise fees for concert tickets and surcharges for hotel rooms.
“We’re going to stop cable internet and cell phone companies from charging you $200 or more when you decide to switch,” Biden said. “And we prohibit airlines from charging families up to $50 to travel just to sit together.”