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More than 45,000 people have signed an online petition created by Consumer Reports magazine, asking the big three U.S. airlines to put common sense before fees and keep families seated together.
"Children under the age of 13 should be able to sit with their parents on American, Delta and United Airlines flights at no additional cost," the Consumer Reports petition said.
Virtually all airlines charge fees ranging from checked bags to seating assignments. These ancillary fees, as they are known, have proven to be a huge moneymaker.
The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that in 2018-the last year figures are available-U.S. airlines brought in $4.9 billion in baggage fees, up from $4.6 billion in 2017 for a 7 percent increase.
American Airlines brought in $1.2 billion in baggage in 2018, the highest among the 11 U.S. carriers. United was next at $888.7 million and Delta was third at $788.5 million.
And the airlines also make money charging passengers for an assigned seat, instead of one randomly generated at check-in. That sometimes means breaking up families from sitting together.
Consumer Reports previously filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Transportation asking for policy change that would allow families with children to sit together at no extra fee. It was denied.
Now airlines simply resort to asking other passengers if they are willing go switch seats to accommodate families.
"Regardless of the type of ticket purchased, Delta works with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their travel needs are met," Delta spokeswoman Maria Moraitakis said in a statement to USA Today. "When customers have seating questions, we encourage them to reach out to us as soon as possible to allow for the opportunity to address their concerns."
The petition had 46,115 signatures of a 50,000 goal.
In the petition, Consumer Reports addressed the airlines directly.
"Children 13 or under should sit with their families while flying, and should not be charged extra fees to do so. Complaints have been filed against your airline for separating children as young as age 2 from their families," Consumer Reports wrote. "This is a security hazard for the child and a safety threat to all passengers during emergencies. It also puts an inappropriate burden on customers who sit next to an unaccompanied child. I expect you to put safety over profits, and seat children with their families without charging them extra for it."
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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