Last updated: 11:50 AM ET, Tue July 12 2016

FAA Reauthorization Includes Provision For Airlines To Seat Families Together

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | July 12, 2016

FAA Reauthorization Includes Provision For Airlines To Seat Families Together

Photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Two U.S. Congressmen have included a provision in the latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization funding that will make it easier for families to sit together on flights.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have put forth the provision to require airlines to ensure children ages 13 and younger are seated adjacent to an adult traveling with them or an older child traveling with them.

The groundwork for the provision actually started last year when the two Congressmen introduced similar legislation, H.R. 3334, the Families Flying Together Act of 2015. Davis and Nadler worked to get it included in this year’s reauthorization bill, which is expected to be approved by the House and Senate sometime before the July 15 deadline.

READ MORE: Travel Leaders Weigh In On US Senate Passage of FAA Reauthorization Bill

“The Families Flying Together Act will put an end to the absurdity of toddlers sitting separate or unattended on an airplane — requiring airlines to plan ahead so that families with young children can fly together,” Nadler said in a statement issued through his office. “For several years, we have tried to force the airlines to enact family friendly seating policies, and to not shift the burden onto other passengers to vacate their seats so that children can sit with their parents. Thankfully, the new FAA bill includes this common sense measure allowing families with small children to travel together safely and reliably without disrupting other passengers.”

What used to be a given — families seated together on a flight — is not so much the standard anymore. As airlines have added more and more ancillary fees, including fees for seat changes and seat upgrades, traveling companions have sometimes been separated.

Even those traveling with children.

“Traveling with young children can already be very stressful for parents and when you can’t sit together on a flight, it only makes this process more difficult,” Davis added. “All we're asking is for airlines to do a better job of accommodating parents ahead of time so we can make flying a better experience for families and other passengers aboard. I think most airlines have the same goal. This provision is important to updating an industry that continues to see growth in family travel. While my first choice is a long-term bill that includes major reforms that I believe are necessary to improve safety and increase global competitiveness within our aviation system, I am glad this provision and other sensible reforms are included in this extension and I look forward to voting for it.”

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A spokesman for Airlines for America, the lobby group representing most of the U.S.-based carriers, said the law was not needed.

“Airlines have always worked to accommodate customers who are traveling together, including those traveling with children, and will continue to do so — without unnecessary federal mandates,” Vaughn Jennings told the Los Angeles Times.


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