Money

Airlines Have Come Up With a Brand New 'Fee'

Already beset by security lines that last for hours, airline passengers now have something new to hate about flying.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, in an effort increase the number of seats with expanded leg room, airlines are making it almost impossible for families to sit together.

Here's how the new seating arrangements are messing with families.

According to WSJ, airlines are essentially creating de-facto "family fees" by limiting the number of seats non-premium customers are able to reserve in advance. As WSJ reports, this is a result of airlines trying to squeeze as much money out of customers as possible by adding leg-room to previous seating on coach and labeling them as "preferred seating" (though in some cases, the WSJ found there is absolutely no difference between preferred and non-preferred seating).

Basically, if you want to reserve multiple seats, you'll have to pay up for premium seats, because there just aren't enough left in coach.

In a statement to ATTN:, British Airways laid out their seat reservation plan, which offers more advanced reservation options to people who pay for premium seating:

We offer free seat selection to all of our customers 24 hours before their flight. The option to pre-pay for seating was introduced after customers told us that they would welcome the opportunity to pre-select their seats, as they do when booking with other international airlines. Customers travelling with infants can choose their seats from the point of booking. We also allocate seats for families travelling with children three days before the flight to ensure they can sit together.

In addition, our Gold and Silver British Airways Executive Club members can reserve their seats free of charge at the point of booking, and our Bronze members can do this seven days before their flight. — British Airways Statement

Frontier Airlines doesn't even allow non-premium customers to reserve specific seats. Instead, the company's website suggests that you book an entire row of preferred seating in order to "keep your party together."

Frontier airlines seating screen grab

So, essentially, parents have to pay extra to ensure they're sitting next to their own children, or they could wing it (pun intended, sorry) and hope that when they get on the plane, some kind soul will take pity on them and switch seats.

Congress is getting involved.

The Senate approved a provision in the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual funding bill that would make reserving seats easier for families. They believe that either sitting together should be free, or that airlines who are charging fees for booking seats together in advance, like Frontier, Spirit, and Allegiant, should at least make their cheap seats available to families to book the same way a person flying solo could.

"It’s unacceptable that families are forced into this predicament," Sen. Michael Bennet(D-CO), father of three, told WSJ. "Other passengers may not be as interested in sitting next to my kids as I am."

[H/T Gizmodo, Wall Street Journal]