It is sad that airlines need to be forced to let families sit together.
Let families sit together. These days it’s hard to imagine traveling by plane on family vacations. But at some point, families will travel together when we return to anything close to normal. Soon, we will have to deal with the hassles of getting families seated together on planes.
New legislation dubbed the “Fly Together Act,” has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Markey (D-MA), Schumer (D-NY), and Klobuchar (D-MN). A bipartisan companion bill has also been presented in the House of Representatives. The House version was introduced by Representative Ann Wagner (MO-2) and Representative Anthony Brown (MD-04).
This bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to require that airlines let families fly together. The bill will mandate that toddlers and pre-teens, 13 years old or under, be allowed to sit together on flights with older family members at no additional charge.
Virtually the same bill was passed back in 2016 with the unfortunate words “if appropriate” in the language. DOT immediately decreed the bill as inappropriate without any research other than counting complaints.
This seems like a great idea for families. But actually, it’s a great idea for the rest of the traveling public.
Airlines have plenty of ways to let families fly together
Now, first up, the Fly Together Act just introduced in Congress doesn’t say airlines have to hold preferred seats for families. It would be easy and probably makes the most sense to block seats in the back of the plane. No one is saying families have to have the best seats. For that matter, seats blocked in the back of the plane could be held for people traveling with babies under two. (There might need to be some codicil to say people need to book 24 hours in advance, but in an emergency, airport personnel could still sort it out.)
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Here are five reasons why seating set aside for families will benefit everybody
1. Late departures and seating issues.
At this point, it often falls to airport gate agents and flight attendants to try to sort out problems. One time, I flew from San Jose Airport to Denver, and gate staff got so cranky they ended up putting a family with young children in the exit row, which delayed the flight about 20 minutes while the then upset flight attendants had to move people. (And the reason I know the story is that one flight attendant told me the airport people had done it before when they didn’t want to be blamed for a late departure.)
2. Nobody wants to sit next to someone else’s child.
3. Travel agents get blamed for airline rules
4. Onboard guilt-tripping is no fun.
5. It’s the right thing to do.
Janice Hough is a California-based travel agent a travel blogger and a part-time comedy writer. A frequent flier herself, she’s been doing battle with airlines, hotels, and other travel companies for over three decades. Besides writing for Consumer Traveler, Janice has a humor blog at Leftcoastsportsbabe.com (Warning, the political and sports humor therein does not represent the views of anyone but herself.)