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United Facilitates Family Togetherness

Airline Eases Securing Adjacent Seating for Families

United Airlines, purveyors of friendly skies, announced on 20 February 2023 that it had improved its family seating policy, thereby rendering it “easier than ever” for children under the age of 12-years to sit beside a family-member or an accompanying adult free of charge. The policy pertains to United customers flying at most, but not all ticket-classes.

United sets forth its new policy is made possible through a series of investments in a new seat map feature that locates available adjacent seats at the time of booking. The online seat engine—as the system is known in United’s company patois—first reviews all available, unoccupied economy seats, then, if needed, opens complimentary upgrades to available preferred seats.

Though the complete policy change is not slated to go into effect until early March 2023, United customers traveling with children under 12 and booking online will immediately see larger numbers of adjacent seat options.

On instances in which adjacent seats are not available prior to travel—such as those occasioned by last-minute bookings, full flights, or unscheduled aircraft changes—United’s new policy permits customers to transfer without charge to an alternate flight with available adjacent seating in the same cabin to the same destination. Any difference in fares between the customer’s originally-booked flight and the new one will be waived.

United Airlines chief customer officer Linda Jojo stated: "In an era where more families are working in a hybrid environment, they're traveling more often—and they're flying United. We're focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat. We look forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year."

To seat families together, many air-carriers endeavor to utilize manual processes—such as blocking random seats or tasking customer service agents with facilitating seat swaps at aircraft boarding gates. Such scenarios are apt to result in additional stress and longer boarding processes for all passengers, not just those traveling with children.

United’s new policy underscores the airline’s investments in technology and logistical tools. Since summer 2022, United has worked to optimize its seat engine to prioritize both families lacking seat assignments prior to their travel dates, and adjacent seating for families affected by schedule changes, aircraft swaps, or irregular operations.

Readers should note: United Polaris, United First Class, and Economy Plus seats remain separate products and are excluded from the new family seating policy.

FMI: www.united.com


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