What to Know
- Schumer called on the DOT to champion a new federal rule to keep families seated together on flights
- The senator highlighted a recent report that found 136 complaints from families that were separated on flights
- The DOT said it reviewed its consumer complaint database and found that less than one percent of their complaints related to family seating
Days before airline travel ticks up for the Thanksgiving holiday, New York Senator Chuck Schumer called for the end of family separation on flights.
Schumer sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao calling on the DOT head to champion a new federal rule to keep families seated together on flights, a rule Congress already asked for three years ago.
In 2016, Congress added an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill asking for a new policy that enables children age 13 or under "to be seated in a seat adjacent to the seat of an accompanying family member of the age of 13."
No such rule was made or implemented, allowing airlines to keep charging passengers rates to reserve adjacent seats.
"The friendly skies deserve a family-friendly cabin," Schumer said Sunday. "The real turbulence is the family seating policy which has become a game of musical chairs that is neither fun nor fair."
The New York senator highlighted a recent report that found 136 complaints, made between March 2016 and November 2018, from families that were separated on flights.
"It's either costing parents more or delivering a giant headache that includes pleading with strangers to swap seats," Schumer said.
The Department of Transportation released their own review of airline family seating policies, which supported their decision not to enforce such a rule across airlines.
The DOT said it reviewed its consumer complaint database and found that less than one percent of their complaints related to family seating policies.
"Based on the low number of complaints received and review of airline family seating policies, the Department determined that it was unnecessary to direct airlines to establish policies on family seating," the DOT's website states.
Following its explanation, the agency shared resources intended to help families find ways to sit together on flights.