Airlines Can No Longer Charge Parents Extra to Sit Next to Their Kids

The Department of Transportation has stepped in, making it mandatory for airlines to seat children under 13 next to their parents without charging a fee.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Two children about to talk to you nonstop for the next 7 hours.
Now you no longer have to pay extra for the privilege of being annoyed by your own children on a long flight.
Photo: Maks Slepkov / EyeEm (Getty Images)

Look, I don’t have kids, and I probably never will, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have sympathy for people who do. Particularly when it comes to traveling, which, let’s face it, is already a nightmare. That’s why, when I found out that airlines have been charging parents a premium to sit next to their own children, I was more than a little surprised. Luckily, new regulations mean this practice is officially over in the U.S.

That’s right. The U.S. government — specifically the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection— has stepped in, mandating that airlines must seat parents next to their children if those children are under 13 years of age, according to a report published on July 12 by Scary Mommy (it was a trending Twitter topic, sue me).

Now, this ruling by the DOT isn’t all-encompassing. It doesn’t mean that an airline needs to seat your whole family together — if two parents and two children are all flying together, they might be split into two groups several rows apart from each other. Basically, if you want everyone together, you’re gonna have to stick to the tried-and-true lifehack of booking your travel super early so you can select your seats.


Also, flying kind of sucks in general right now, thanks to a mishmash of mask requirements, massive amounts of cancellations and delays due to staffing shortages, and just generally high prices, so maybe instead of flying somewhere, you’d be better off reviving that age-old tradition of the family road trip. Wait, no, crap. Gas prices are still super high, too.

Never mind. Maybe we should all just stay home.