Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation to help keep families seated together on commercial flights. In response to ever-increasing fees and decreasing transparency among airline carriers, the Families Flying Together Act of 2012 would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to direct each carrier to “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…available to the public on an appropriate Internet Web site of the air carrier.” The legislation would help to ensure that children are not separated from their families and seated alone on flights.
“Air travel is complicated and expensive enough for families without adding new stresses,” said Nadler. “Families should not be stuck paying hidden fees, or buying ‘premium’ seats, simply because they wish to be seated together on crowded flights. It is positively absurd to expect a two or three-year-old to sit unattended, next to strangers, on an airplane. It is up to air carriers to make their seating policies clear and easily accessible to the public.”
As airlines change policies and increase fees for a variety of basic services, it is becoming more difficult for families to sit together on commercial flights. From airlines charging a fee to make advance seat assignments, to charging a premium for window or aisle seats, to eliminating advanced boarding for parents with small children, the obstacles for families are growing. There are increasing reports of people being separated from their children when they arrive to board the aircraft. When this happens, the only recourse is to rely on another passenger to willingly change seats. This is an inconvenience for everyone involved and not an efficient business practice. It is also potentially unsafe and traumatic for the families involved.