US DOT Pushing Back on Airline “Junk” Fees

Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg says the DOT is pushing back on those punishing junk fees that end up costing American families big bucks. In some cases, hundreds of dollars more than people traveling without children, and it’s not just one airline that’s doing it. Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “as recently as a month ago not one us airline guaranteed that a parent traveling with a child would be seated together.”

In light of that, the US DOT launched the airline family seating dashboard. “You can go right now to our department’s family seating dashboard to see which airlines so far have changed their customer service plans to officially guarantee fee free family seating”, said Buttigieg. In the last few days, three US carriers, Alaska, American, and Frontier Airlines have earned green checks, meaning parents can sit next to kids 13 and younger without being charged. So far, seven airlines are still forcing families to pay. Among them, budget carrier Spirit Airlines, which is already facing a federal opposition over a planned merger with Jet Blue, has a big presence at Newark Liberty and Atlantic City International Airports. According to the Spirit website, ravelers can expect to pay up to $200 to reserve a standard seat and upto $750 to book what’s called a big front seat, if no other seats are available.
Meanwhile, Jet Blue advertises travel considerations for families but they don’t extend to seat assignments and fees go up to $25 per seat. Meanwhile, Delta charges up to $45 and United makes its policy clear on saying on its website:

If you’re traveling with your family… and want to sit together, consider buying a seat assignment in advance. otherwise we can’t guarantee you’ll all sit together.

For many parents, the thought of being separated from their children is stressful enough to entice them into spending the extra money. The next step, Secretary Buttigieg says he’s pushing for regulations requiring airlines to allow children 13 and younger to sit with their parent or guardian at no extra cost. Those new rules are expected to roll out in the coming months.


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