United Airlines Unveils New Family Seating Policy

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. has updated its family seating policy to allow children under 12-years old to sit next to an adult in their party for free of charge. The complete policy change will go into effect in early March.

In a statement, the airline said the improved policy will make it easier than ever for families with children, regardless of the type of ticket purchased, including customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets.

Meanwhile, United Polaris, United First Class and Economy Plus seats remain separate products and are excluded from this family seating policy change, it said.

United said its series of investments in a new seat map feature enabled the new policy change. The feature dynamically finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking. The online seat engine initially reviews all available free Economy seats and then opens complimentary upgrades to available Preferred Seats, if needed.

Customers traveling with children under 12 will start to see more adjacent seat options immediately.

If incase adjacent seats are not available prior to travel, 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. Various issues like last minute bookings, full flights or unscheduled aircraft changes could cause such a scenario.

In such cases, customers also won’t be charged if there is a difference in fare price between the original and new flight.

With the move, the company intends to avoid stress and longer boarding process associated with generally used manual process to seat families together, like blocking random seats or asking agents to facilitate seat swaps at the gate.

United said it has worked to improve its ability to seat families together more easily since last summer.

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