By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three U.S. airlines agreed to commit in writing to eliminating family seating fees if adjoining seats can be found throughout reserving, the U.S. Division of Transportation (USDOT) stated on Monday.
Below strain from the Biden administration, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines will embody the assure in customer support plans.
“We now have been urgent airlines to assure family seating with out tacking on additional prices, and now we’re seeing some airlines begin to make this common sense change,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated in an announcement on Monday.
USDOT is unveiling a brand new authorities dashboard highlighting airline commitments after its four-month overview discovered no airlines beforehand assured fee-free family seating.
To obtain a dashboard inexperienced verify, airlines should assure dad and mom can sit subsequent to youngsters age 13 and youthful with out being charged extra fees if seats can be found at reserving and should embody that assure as a part of customer support plans “in order that it’s backstopped by USDOT enforcement in the event that they fail to ship,” the division stated.
Final week, President Joe Biden urged airlines to comply with American Airlines in adopting the dedication as a part of a broad effort to crack down on what the White Home calls “junk fees.”
“Nobody ought to have to pay additional to be seated with their children,” Biden stated on Twitter.
Airlines for America, which represents massive U.S. airlines, says its carriers don’t cost for family seating however many don’t embody commitments in customer support plans. Carriers not honor written commitments can face USDOT enforcement actions.
Alaska Airlines stated it has “at all times cared for households on our flights and family seating is one thing we’ve by no means charged for.” Frontier stated in current months it took steps to “mechanically” seat younger youngsters with an accompanying grownup. American stated its written plan “supplies extra readability.”
USDOT has begun drafting rules to finish family seating fees however that would take years to finalize. The administration plans to ship Congress proposed laws within the coming weeks to finish the fees.
Biden first urged airlines in his State of the Union final month to take the motion, saying, “Baggage fees are dangerous sufficient – airlines cannot deal with your youngster like a chunk of luggage.”
In August, U.S. airlines made “important adjustments” to customer support plans with almost all agreeing to supply passengers meals and in a single day stays for delays inside their management after USDOT first introduced a dashboard evaluating buyer protections.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Enhancing by Christian Schmollinger)