Flying with children can come with a lot of anxiety for parents. In addition to making sure that all the essentials are packed and kept track of, it can be difficult to manage getting through security and boarding the plane, not to mention making sure everything goes smoothly during the actual flight.
In order to make things easier, an amendment has moved through Congress that would ensure that children can be seated next to parents on flights at no additional cost. According to the Washington Post, the proposal, which was voted to be a part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill by the Senate, would also create new rules for security screening and boarding procedures.
The amendment could be a potential lifesaver for parents and pregnant women at the airport. It would allow the former to escort their children through security checkpoints and the latter to receive accommodations to pre-board their flights. Additionally, it would make it much easier for parents to secure adjacent seating with their young ones, something that has been harder to accomplish in recent years.
Many airlines now allow passengers to pay an extra fee for “preferred” coach seats, so unless parents are able to shell out extra money to ensure that they have seats that are together, it often doesn’t happen. Currently, many parents have to rely on altruistic passengers to switch seats with them or for gate agents to persuade those who are less willing.
“Our amendment puts in place commonsense protections that will reduce the extra and unnecessary stress applied to families and pregnant women traveling by air,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, who introduced the new stipulation.
The amendment has met some opposition from airlines and trade groups, who say it is unnecessary. One such trade group, Airlines for America, says that passengers already have the ability to secure seats that are together without incurring any additional fees.
“Airlines have always worked to accommodate customers who are traveling together, including those traveling with children, and will continue to do so – without unnecessary federal mandates. . . We believe that customer service decisions are best left to the dedicated and experienced airline employees who interact with and receive feedback from their customers every day – not the government,” said Airlines for America spokesperson Vaughn Jennings.
Although the amendment passed unanimously in the Senate, the bill that it is attached to is still being debated – so there is still time for it to be tweaked or taken out. A spokesman for Sen. Bennet said that the real challenge will be trying to keep it attached to the bill through conference negotiations.