First things first… you still will have to buy a ticket for your child.
Having said that… if you’ve ever traveled with young kids before, you know that it can be…challenging.
But here’s some good news from that front: the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection recently released a notice encouraging airlines in the U.S. to ensure that kids aged 13 years or younger sit next to the adults accompanying them at no extra charge.
The notice says, “the Department will monitor airlines’ actions in this regard and consider what steps, including potential regulation consistent with the Department’s authorities, may be appropriate to ensure airlines’ seating policies and practices are not barriers to a young child being seated next to an adult family member or other accompanying adult.”
The notice also says, “If adjacent seats are not available at booking, OACP encourages airlines to provide clear and accurate information to the parent or other adult traveling with the young child to enable the adult to make informed decisions on how to proceed.”
Keep in mind that this is only for tickets purchased in the same cabin. In other words, children who originally had a seat in coach, for example, would not be moved to first class by a parent at no additional cost.
If airlines in the U.S. don’t offer an option to let them know that you’ll be traveling with a child when you book a flight, the Department of Transportation is instructing them to have an open seating policy that guarantees children who are traveling with adults will have at least one seated next to them for their flight.
That’s good news all around!