United Airlines' New Family Seating Policy
United is making it simpler for families who want to sit next to their young children.On Monday, the Chicago-based airline introduced a new option that will allow passengers to
reserve a free ticket for a child under 12 next to an accompanying adult. According to the airline, this also applies to those who opt for the most affordable economy tickets.
This comes less than a year after government officials pushed airlines to provide no-cost seating for families with young children.United customers traveling with children less
than 12 will notice an increase in the number of available nearby seats beginning immediately, with the full policy shift happening in early March.The online seat finder tool will
initially search for available economy class seats. The airline claims that the app can make "Preferred Seats" available when necessary.If a customer has to book at the last minute
or if a flight is already full, and there are no open adjacent seats, the customer can move to another aircraft to the same destination for free,provided that there is an available
adjacent seat in the same cabin.The Department of Transportation issued a notice in July requiring all carriers"to do everything in their ability to guarantee that children who are
age 13 or below"are seated at no additional expense next to an adult in their group.Although the Department does not receive many complaints concerning family seats, it has received
reports of infants as young as 11 months old being separated from their adult companions.The trade group representing the main U.S. airlines, Airlines for America, has previously
stated that "airlines have always strived to accommodate customers who are traveling together, especially those flying with children, and will continue to do so."
United has been making investments in its tools and technology to make it easier for families to seat together since last summer.