Bipartisan bill wants to stop airlines from charging fees for families to sit together

Air travel can be especially stressful during the summer, as this week has shown, due to technical difficulties and storms that have delayed and canceled thousands of flights.

And as many parents know all too well, flying can be even more of a challenge when traveling with young children.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., is the co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation that seeks to help parents and their children fly together, without having to pay extra.

“No family should face exorbitant extra fees just because they want to sit with their children during a flight,” Spanberger said in a statement, noting she’s the mother of three school-age kids.

The “Fly Together Act” calls for the U.S. Transportation Secretary to issue a rule that would require airlines to seat children 13 years and younger with their family members, without charging additional fees.

Spanberger notes that “unnecessary fees” are opposed by Democrats and Republicans alike and argues that her bill would help “provide peace of mind to parents.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo.

Airlines have been charging anywhere from $10 to $50 extra to have a child sit next to a parent.

According to an Federal Aviation Administration dashboard that was initiated online earlier this year, only three airlines — American, Alaska and Frontier — don’t charge extra to have children 13 and younger sit with a parent.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has also called on Congress to implement fee-free family seating.

“Upon review of the airlines’ seating policies, DOT remains concerned that airlines’ policies do not guarantee adjacent seats for young children traveling with a family member and that airlines do not guarantee the adjacent seating at no additional cost,” he said in a letter to congressional leaders.

The Senate Commerce Committee has been taking up FAA reauthorization legislation, which lawmakers will resume addressing when they return to Washington next month.

The reauthorization has included a review of a proposal to add long-haul flights to Reagan National Airport, which is opposed by members of the Virginia and Maryland congressional delegations.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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