One of the most hated recent airline policies is to separate families traveling together. Parents here, kids there, everybody unhappy.
United has come to the rescue with an improved family seating policy that makes it easier for children under 12-years old to sit next to an adult in their party for free – including customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets and their limited seating choices.
United’s new policy is via a new algorithm that finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking. The online seat engine first reviews all available free Economy seats and then opens complimentary upgrades to available Preferred Seats, if needed.
Customers traveling with children under 12 will start to see more adjacent seat options immediately, and the complete policy change goes into effect in early March.
In instances when adjacent seats are not available prior to travel – due to things like last minute bookings, full flights or unscheduled aircraft changes – United’s new policy also lets customers switch for free to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seat availability in the same cabin.
Customers won’t be charged if there is a difference in fare price between the original and new flight.
There have been enough complaints about airlines separating adults and children that the US Dept. of Transportation has firm rules about it.
Know your rights – as a parent, grandparent or other adult traveling with young children.
Many airlines try and use a more manual process to seat families together that can include blocking random seats or asking agents to facilitate seat swaps at the gate. Those circumstances often result in more stress and a longer boarding process for everyone, including families trying to sit together.
Since last summer, the airline has worked to improve its ability to seat families together more easily by optimizing the airline’s seat engine to prioritize families who did not have seats assigned before their day of travel and prioritize adjacent seating for families during schedule changes, aircraft swaps or irregular operations.
“In an era where more families are working in a hybrid environment, they’re traveling more often – and they’re flying United,” said Linda Jojo, Chief Customer Officer for United. “We’re focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat. We look forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year.”
United Polaris®, United First Class® and Economy Plus® seats remain separate products and are excluded from this family seating policy change.
That’s not a big deal – since people who can afford to buy such premium seats also can afford the extra pricetag to sit together.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA) and is a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter