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DOT Launches Dashboard Revealing Airlines That Still Charge Junk Fees

The new dashboard shows which carriers allow children under 13 to sit with their parents at no extra charge

March 8, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

The U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) has unveiled its new family seating dashboard, which reveals the airlines that allow families to sit together for no extra charge and those that don’t.

The dashboard launch comes just a month after President Biden’s State of the Union address in which he openly criticized airlines for charging so-called ‘junk fees,’ especially charges related to allowing parents to sit next to their children.

At the time of the President’s speech in early February, no major U.S. airline had a policy that guaranteed families could be seated together. However, since then, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Frontier Airlines have all updated their seating policies to ensure adjacent seats for children under 13 and their accompanying adults, as long as certain conditions are met.

Photo: Airbus A220-300 cabin. Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

However, according to the DOT’s dashboard, Allegiant, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United have yet to update their policies as of Tuesday, March 7. The dashboard can be viewed now on the USDOT website.

“Parents traveling with young kids should be able to sit together without an airline forcing them to pay junk fees,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We have been pressing airlines to guarantee family seating without tacking on extra charges, and now we’re seeing some airlines start to make this common-sense change. All airlines should do this promptly, even as we move forward to develop a rule establishing this as a requirement across the board.”

The family seating dashboard is added to the cancellation and delay dashboard unveiled by USDOT last year. This original dashboard was published after Secretary Buttigieg criticized airlines for not doing enough to accommodate passengers affected by flight delays and cancellations.

The dashboard reveals which airlines provide affected customers with meals or meal vouchers, which offer them to rebook another flight at no extra cost, and which offer complimentary hotel accommodation and ground transportation from the airport to the hotel.

Since launching the cancellation and delay dashboard last summer, all ten major U.S. airlines now offer meals or meal/cash vouchers to customers waiting more than three hours for a rescheduled flight. Before the dashboard was launched, none of them provided this service.

The DOT hopes the family seating dashboard will similarly encourage airlines to be more accommodating to passengers. Meanwhile, the White House has confirmed it is urging Congress to approve legislation to make family seating policies enforceable by law.