United Airlines' family seating is a gamechanger for households with kids 12 and under

Chris Sims
Journal Star

One of the biggest issues flying anywhere as a family is trying to sit together on an airplane.

A new policy released by United Airlines on Monday addresses the family seating problem and aims to make air travel more convenient for people with children ages 12 and under.

Here's what you need to know about the new family seating policy:

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What is United Airlines family seating?

According to a press release, the website will offer a seat map feature that allows customers to seat children under the age of 12 next to an adult in their party at no extra cost.

How does United Airlines family seating work?

United Airlines' new online seat engine will begin by scanning for all available free economy seats, the press release said. The feature will then offer complimentary upgrades to available preferred seats, if needed.

More adjacent seat options should be available to anyone traveling with children under 12 immediately. However, the overall program change won't officially start until early March.

United Airlines' family seating feature does not include United Polaris, United First Class or Economy Plus seating. These are separate products and are excluded from policy change.

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What if adjacent seating is unavailable on my United Airlines flight?

The new policy has a plan in place. Customers can switch a flight to the same destination that has adjacent seating in the same cabin for free, according to the airline.

Additionally, there will be no other fees for customers switching their flight if there is a difference in cost between the original flight and the newly selected flight.

Biden against fees for family seating on airlines

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice in July requesting U.S. airlines offer the opportunity for family seating at no cost to the consumer because of the overabundance of complaints received by families regarding the fees associated with seat swaps and plane changes when flying with children.

Biden pushed the Junk Fee Prevention Act during his State of the Union address this month that will target such airline fees, as well as resort and concert ticket fees, according to CNN.

“Baggage fees are bad enough – they can’t just treat your child like a piece of luggage,” Biden said in the speech.

The U.S. DOT encourages anyone who is displeased with their family seating experience to file a complaint about the airline.

United Airlines customer service

If you have any questions regarding family seating or any other United Airlines issues, visit or call (800) 864-8331.

Chris Sims is a digital producer for Gannett. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisFSims.