New legislation could require airlines to seat families together.

By Caroline Hallemann
August 03, 2015
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Yesterday, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (Dem., New York) and Rodney Davis (Rep., Illinois)—both members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee—introduced the Families Flying Together Act of 2015.

The bipartisan legislation would require the U.S. Department of Transportation “to direct each airline carrier to notify passengers traveling with minors if seats are not available together at the initial booking stage and for each carrier to establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family is seated together during flight.”

In layman's terms, the act would make certain that small children were not seated alone on airplanes.

Explaining his position in a release, Davis said, “As a parent, seeing other dads and moms struggle with airlines to get a seat next to their young child on a flight is always frustrating.”

“Consumers and families continue to experience this problem which adds unnecessary stress, so it only makes sense for airlines to accommodate families, to the best of their ability, on flights. This bill would benefit families by requiring more seating information at the time of purchase as well as a dedicated policy that guarantees they receive greater consideration when flying.

Co-sponsor Nadler pointed out the fees and other financial struggles of finding family-friendly seating. “Air travel is complicated and expensive enough for families without adding new stresses,” he said. “Families should not be stuck paying hidden fees, or buying ‘premium’ seats, simply because they wish to be seated together on crowded flights. It is positively absurd to expect a two or three-year-old to sit unattended, next to strangers, on an airplane. It is up to air carriers to make their seating policies clear and easily accessible to the public.”

The current bill authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expires in September; Nadler and Davis are hoping to include these requirements in the reauthorization.

Nadler proposed a similar bill in 2012, which did not pass.

Caroline Hallemann is the associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @challemann.