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Parents and children walking toward plane on tarmac while wheeling suitcases
Yaroslav Astakhov | Adobe Stock

United Airlines Announces New Seating Policy

Flyers traveling with children under the age of 12 will now find it easier to score seat assignments together, thanks to a new policy from United Airlines. 

Previously, flyers who were unable to reserve seats together in advance would have to ask at the gate for a new seat assignment, or beg a stranger on the plane to swap seats. United Airlines is planning on changing that—at least for families traveling with young children.

The airline is rolling out a new seat map feature that will automatically find and assign available adjacent seats to families traveling together at the time of booking. If there are no standard seats together in economy, complimentary upgrades to preferred seats in the same cabin will be made automatically available. 

According to United, if there are no adjacent seats available within the same cabin, customers will be able to switch at no charge to a flight to the same destination that does have seats together.

The new seat assignment rule will apply to all fare types, including Basic Economy tickets. (United’s Basic Economy ticket does not typically allow flyers to choose a seat.) Families traveling with children 12 and over, and other travelers who wish to sit together, will not be able to take advantage of this new policy. 

Although the new policy doesn’t officially launch until early March, passengers traveling with children under 12 should start to see more options for reserving adjacent seats immediately. 

The move follows a call from the Biden administration for airlines to stop charging unfair fees. “We’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round trip for families just to be able to sit together,” Biden said at his State of the Union address. “Baggage fees are bad enough—airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”

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