Since the time of the advent of Basic Economy, there’s been story after story about families that have been split up on planes. We’re not talking about families like Joe and I; I mean young children (or adults with special needs) who’ve been split up from the rest of their respective parties, because it costs extra to pick your seat and some people either aren’t willing or don’t know to do that.
Each airline seems to have its own way of dealing with keeping families together. In fact, Joe even wrote to all the airlines in early 2018, to ask how to ensure a parent and child would sit next to each other.
But now a politician is starting to get involved.
Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants airlines to stop separating children from their parents when assigning them seats.
Although related adults sitting apart is inconvenient, separating adults from their children, especially those as young as 1, 2 or 3 years old, can potentially be a disaster. A scared child might cry unabated and/or refuse to keep his/her seat belt on (or even stay in their seat), etc., while his/her seatmates might not want the sudden role of babysitter. That’s to say nothing of any horrible things a seatmate might try to do to a child whose parents are 4 and 6 rows behind him/her.
The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 included language that asked the Secretary of Transportation to develop guidelines to keep families together. To date, no action has ever been taken. But Schumer says that all airlines should have policies in place so that parents are guaranteed to sit with their children age 12 or under.
“While complaints by parents seated rows away from their own kids on flights continue to climb, what’s flying under the radar is the fact that the feds were supposed to fix this problem in 2016 via a law now on the books, but they haven’t, and they should,” Schumer said in a statement last month.
The Senator strongly suggested in a letter that Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao do something about the problem ahead of the heavy holiday travel season.
“With the holiday travel season upon us, I urge you to establish a policy to ensure that children 13 and under will not be seated apart from their parents on commercial aircraft,” Schumer wrote to Chao.
Senator Schumer referred to a report from Consumer Reports, a non-profit publication, which found that 136 complaints were filed against airlines for separating parents from children between March 2016 and November 2018. In seven of those cases, children as young as two years old were split up from their parents. The report continued that in two cases, United Airlines broke up families traveling with 1-year-olds. It also cited that one family who had a child with a seizure disorder was “torn apart” from the child by American Airlines.
Schumer says the DOT hasn’t acted on the issue, due to a ‘low number of complaints. But “complaints numbering 136 are not a ‘low number,’ and even one instance of a young child being separated from their family on a commercial flight is unacceptable and quite frankly, disturbing,” Schumer wrote to Chao.
“Airlines should have a responsibility to put families first over profits and fees, and the [DOT] must act now to come up with sensible guidelines,” said Schumer.
Will this be the start of some sort of regulations? I guess we’ll see what happens…
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary