Our most recent Family Getaways section — with stories all about family travel — seems especially timely because we have seen a lot of headlines lately related to traveling families. In particular, several carriers, including United Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines (and there may be more joining this list after press time) announced a major change in their seating policies.
In short, the airlines have said that they will make it easier for families to book seats together. Each company’s policy is a little different, but the change is an acknowledgement that young children should not sit away from their parents, and parents should not be price-gouged for wanting their children safely by their side.
There might be some of you out there who are thinking, “No, duh.” After all, nobody wants to be turned into a babysitter for someone else’s kids on a flight (done it), and no parent wants to take a chance on having their kids sit next to a total stranger unsupervised for hours on end. Especially in these days of heightened tension on airplanes, a parent can’t rely on the goodwill of a fellow passenger — or even a flight attendant — changing their seats so a family can be together.
The Family Travel Association (FTA) has been advocating for this change for years. In annual research conducted by the FTA in partnership with New York University, common barriers to travel among parents consistently include the hassle and the cost. Families do not want to travel with young kids if it means they are spending a lot and feeling more stress for their efforts. Anything a travel advisor — or travel company — can do to make vacations easier and more affordable will mean more families traveling, which in turn means more business for everyone. These airlines should be commended for finally making this common-sense move.