DOT publishes dashboard to name and shame airlines over family seating, fees

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The Department of Transportation is shining a light on which airlines let families sit together on planes without paying a fee for the privilege.

The new dashboard aims to shame carriers that still charge families as President Biden pushes to get rid of “junk fees” that are attached to services such as cable television, flights and resort stays.

The dashboard gives airlines a green check if they guarantee that parents can sit next to children up to age 13 for free if adjacent seats are available when they book.

Many airlines do not provide the guarantee, so the Biden administration is drafting a rule requiring it.

The administration on Monday praised American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines for stepping forward to ensure family seating without an additional cost.

“We have been pressing airlines to guarantee family seating without tacking on extra charges, and now we’re seeing some airlines start to make this common-sense change,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. 

Mr. Buttigieg piled pressure on airlines as he faces a string of transportation crises under his watch, from hectic Christmas cancellations to problems with a pilot notification system that led to a rare ground stop. He’s also under pressure to protect residents of East Palestine, Ohio, affected by a train that derailed while carrying hazardous chemicals.

Mr. Buttigieg said the dashboard will also detail which airlines assist passengers who had a flight canceled or delayed because of the carrier.

He told the CEOs of the 10 largest U.S. airlines that his department would publish details on amenities and services that airlines provide in these situations, including rebooking efforts, meals and hotel stays.

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