on board for this
United Airlines launches much-needed system to help Houston families sit together
Just in time for Houston families planning Spring Break, United Airlines is launching a system to make things easy on harried parents.
United's new family seating policy aims to make traveling with children under 12-years old easier to sit together — with no added charge. Budget-minded buyers can also enjoy the new policy even with Basic Economy tickets.
How does it work? A new seat map feature finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking. Essentially, United's online seat engine first reviews all available free Economy seats, then opens complimentary upgrades to available Preferred Seats.
That means those flying with kids under 12 will see more adjacent seat options immediately. Importantly, it also means that beleaguered parents won't have to beg for group seating at the gate or endure the awkward seat-switch asks with other travelers when finally boarded with their kids. The new policy change completely goes into effect in early March, per United.
Of course, adjacent seats may not always be available when purchasing — due to last-minute bookings, full flights, or aircraft changes. Flyers who face that dilemma can switch to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seat availability in the same cabin — for free.
At a time of rampant — arguably excessive — air travel fees, notably here, customers won't be charged if there is a difference in fare price between the original and new flight.
As for the fine print, United notes that its Polaris, first class, and Economy Plus seats will be excluded from the new family seating policy change.
"In an era where more families are working in a hybrid environment, they're traveling more often – and they're flying United," said Linda Jojo, chief customer officer for United, in a statement. "We're focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat. We look forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year."