Recently we’ve seen both United Airlines and Frontier Airlines introduce new family seating policies. This follows President Biden’s announcement about cracking down on travel “junk fees,” including airlines charging fees for families to sit together. While no laws have been passed yet, we’re seeing airlines be proactive.
American Airlines is the latest carrier to introduce a family seating policy. What makes American’s policy unique is that the carrier is making this part of its customer service plan, and is also introducing a guarantee.
How American is seating families together
American Airlines has updated its customer service plan to reflect a new family seating initiative. The airline is now guaranteeing that children 14 and under will be seated adjacent to an accompanying adult at no additional cost, including for basic economy fares (which don’t offer free seat assignments).
This guarantee requires meeting the following conditions:
- Everyone is booked in the same reservation
- Adjacent seats are available in the same class of service your child is ticketed at the time of booking
- You choose seats for the entire reservation or skip seats for the entire reservation (if you choose Basic Economy, then skip choosing seats for the entire reservation)
- You don’t make a change to your seat assignments once they’re assigned to you
- The plane’s seat layout allows it based on the number of children in your reservation
- The original flight isn’t switched to a smaller aircraft
My take on American’s new family seating policy
I’m happy to see American make this policy a part of its customer service plan, so that it’s explicitly and centrally written out. The policies of American and United largely overlap, though interestingly American markets this as a guarantee, while United doesn’t.
There are some subtle differences between the policies of the two airlines, though:
- American’s policy applies to children up to the age of 14, while United’s policy applies to children under the age of 12
- United’s policy allows families to rebook on a different flight so that they can sit together in the event that adjacent seats aren’t available at the time of booking, while American’s policy doesn’t
- American’s policy technically applies to all cabins, while United’s policy only applies to economy; in practice there are limited implications to that, though, since there aren’t fees to assign seats in premium cabins on American
To be honest, I’m kind of surprised that American’s tech enables the airline to offer this feature. United is lightyears ahead of American on that front, and United highlighted how its policy is only possible thanks to a series of investments in a new seatmap feature.
American is the latest airline to have a plan for seating families together. The airline is guaranteeing that children up to the age of 14 will be able to sit with an accompanying adult as long as adjacent seats are available in the same class of service at the time of booking.
What do you make of American’s family seating policy?