What is United Airlines’ New Seating Policy for Families in Response to President Biden’s ‘Families Fly Together Act’?

Different airlines have different onboard seating policies. An airline’s inflight seating policy for family travelers flying together varies depending on aircraft, fare types, itinerary and codeshare partnership with other airlines. Not many airlines are liberal about seating a family group of more than two travelers next to each other for free on international economy flights to India or any other destination. Inarguably, some airlines have commoditized extra legroom seats in particular, to earn an ancillary revenue.

United Airlines family seating policy, free seats on United flights, how to reserve free seats on United flights

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Airlines can’t just treat children like a piece of luggage

However, United Airlines’ new seating policy promises to make it easier for families with kids under 12 years to be seated together aboard flights for free. To be fully effective in March 2023, the policy is compliant with President Biden’s call for airlines to seat children under 13 with their parents or accompanying adult travelers for at no extra cost. In his State of the Union Address early in February, the President was critical of airlines for upselling adjoining seats to family travelers. He further said, “They can’t just treat your child like a piece of luggage.”

The new policy is nothing but an upgrade to United Airlines’ seat map technology to help family travelers sit together on flights especially when there is limited availability of free Economy seats. The new policy is liberal in offering more options to a family with children under 12. If the upgraded technology finds adjoining Economy seats unavailable, it will unlock upgrades for complimentary reservation of Preferred seats on United flights. Preferred Seating comprises United Economy seats with standard legroom in the rows behind Economy Plus seats with 6 inches of additional legroom.

What if the flight you have booked for a trip is full      

There’s more to United Airlines’ revised seating policy for family travelers with kids. If the flight that you have booked for your spouse and kid is full by the time you contact the airline or the travel agency to reserve two adjacent seats for them, they can switch to another flight with free adjoining seats available given that the route is the same. Surprisingly, you don’t have to pay a change fee or fare difference.

The same policy applies if you happen to book United Airlines’ last-minute flight tickets from USA to India or any other destination. Certainly, it is nearly impossible to find seats next to each other in case of a last-minute booking. United Airlines’ liberal policy to let you opt for an alternate flight will help also in the event of a last-minute aircraft change reshuffling seats aboard a flight.

This will surely be one of the great perks of traveling with children under 12 on United flights. This is just the beginning of a much-needed change that a group of Democratic senators is looking to bring in by introducing the Families Fly Together Act. A spate of complaints from middle-class America families being charged to pay for sitting together with their children on flights has forced the Biden administration to introduce the Families Fly Together Act to “prohibit airlines from imposing any monetary charges on families that want to sit together during a flight”.

However, the latest seating policy update does not apply to United Airlines’ business class flights (Polaris) and Economy Plus. The airline has plans to introduce more family-friendly features this year, according to Linda JoJo, the Chief Customer Officer. Espoused by the National Consumers League, United Airlines’ new family seating policy may inspire other airlines to be progressive and liberal in seating family travelers together for free.

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