United Airlines is upgrading its booking technology to help families traveling together sit together on flights.
The company has rolled out new seat mapping software that will give passengers traveling with children under a certain age, adjacent seat options that will allow them to choose preferred seats that generally come with a cost if the purchasers are not part of elite status, USA Today reported.
The preferred seats are typically aisle and window seats, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The new system will be fully onboard by early next month.
United will try to seat large parties together, but if there is not a block of seats large enough then they will try to make sure a child, or several children, are seated next to an adult in their traveling party, the newspaper reported.
There will also be flexibility for families if seats cannot be selected next to each other in advance.
“In instances when adjacent seats are not available prior to travel – due to things like last minute bookings, full flights or unscheduled aircraft changes – United’s new policy also lets customers switch for free to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seat availability in the same cabin,” United said in a statement, according to USA Today. “Customers also won’t be charged if there is a difference in fare price between the original and new flight.”
The move comes after President Joe Biden in his State of the Union speech called for airlines to make sure that children under the age of 13 are seated with their accompanying adult without charging an extra fee.
“We’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round trip for a family just to be able to sit together,” President Biden said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Baggage fees are bad enough. Airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”
United is not the only airline that attempts to make it easier for families to sit together.
Delta Air Lines told CNBC that it blocks some rows of seats so families are not split.
“Delta does not charge family seating fees and regardless of the ticket class purchased, will always work with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their family seating needs are met,” Delta told CNBC.
American Airlines will search for seats together at the time of booking for the main cabin and basic economy. Preferred seats and extra legroom locations are released the day before a flight if they’re needed.