Airlines: Families will have to pay extra to sit together
Thursday, 31. May 2012, 19:37
Airline fees for reserved seats and fewer families-board-first policies burden family travelers with infants and toddlers
The Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA) urges airlines to
reconsider recently-adopted policies and fees that unfairly burden families
with young children.
These include mandatory seat-reservation fees that can
force a family of four to spend as much as $150 more for air transportation,
and sometimes more, to be guaranteed seats together.
In addition, the elimination by some airlines of
families-board-first policies have added stress to family travel, especially
for those with toddlers in tow.
“Families traveling with infants and toddlers often can’t
avoid checking extra bags filled with everything from the many clothes changes
needed for small children to diapers, toys, special blankets, and baby
bottles,” said Charlie Leocha, Director of the Consumer Travel Alliance.
“Meanwhile, elderly passengers who lack the upper-body
strength to get carry-ons into access overhead bins, also must check baggage
and pay extra fees.”
Seat reservation fees are part of the ancillary fees that
airlines have created over the past five years in the name of allowing
passengers to pay only for what they need and, naturally, of profits.
These extra fees, as well as being difficult to determine,
compare across airlines and purchase, and fall unevenly on travelers.
United Airlines recently added a new wrinkle to its
“family policy” by eliminating the option for families - even those with
toddlers or babies - to board early. They are not alone. American Airlines
stopped making families-board-early announcements several years ago.
Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America continue to allow
families with toddlers to board early and US Airways has a hybrid system that
gets elite frequent fliers aboard first, then boards families prior to general
CTA recognizes that trying to legislate family-friendly
behavior by airlines would be as easy as trying to keep three- and
four-year-olds from fighting.
There are too many questions that legislation will have to
consider. What is a family? How old are the children? What about unaccompanied
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