An amendment to a bill would ensure that parents sit with their kids on flights, at no extra cost
Flying with small children is no picnic. Getting hustled through security and boarding a flight is annoying enough when it’s just adults. Add toddlers to the mix, and it’s a whole lot worse. A Colorado senator heard our cries because now, there’s a proposed amendment to a bill that includes all kinds of exciting improvements to air travel for both families with small children and pregnant women.
According to The Washington Post, the Senate added an amendment proposed by Sen. Michael Bennet to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would allow parents to remain with their children through security checkpoints and would require airlines to let parents sit with their children on flights at no additional cost to them. It would also let pregnant women pre-board flights, which would be fantastic for obvious reasons. It’s called The LIFT Act, and it’s pretty much awesome.
The Senate passed our LIFT Act to help families & pregnant women when traveling through our country's busy airports. pic.twitter.com/214jyvfcZ4
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) April 12, 2016
The reason this kind of regulation is necessary is due to the number of airlines over the years that have turned sections of the plane into “preferred” seating, charging fees for what are deemed to be “premium” coach seats. That often leaves a whole bunch of scattered middle seats, sometimes rows apart, which isn’t helpful for a family of four trying to keep their seats together.
The preferred seating fees can cost upward of $75 depending on the airline, and paying that amount times several tickets is ridiculous. If parents book seats for themselves and their children on a flight that has limited choices, that can force them into either paying the insane fees for the premium seats so they’re together or leaving themselves at the mercy of other passengers, asking to switch seats once everyone’s boarded.
Can you think of anything more stressful than your toddler having a meltdown while a whole plane is getting situated and you’re in the aisle pleading with another passenger to switch seats so you can be with your kid? Boarding a plane with little kids is hard enough without having to negotiate with a stranger so your 3-year-old isn’t alone the entire flight, but some parents have no choice.
And of course, pregnant women being able to pre-board is a total no-brainer that should’ve already been a thing. Trying to work your way down a crowded airplane aisle isn’t easy even if you’re tiny. Add the huge belly and high probability that she might need to pee, and a pregnant woman should absolutely be allowed to pre-board.
However, not everyone agrees that it’s needed. Airlines for America, a trade group for some airlines, says the bill is unnecessary. Spokesman Vaughan Jennings claims, “Airlines have always worked to accommodate customers who are traveling together, including those traveling with children, and will continue to do so — without unnecessary federal mandates.” He says the government doesn’t need to be involved and that airlines can make customer service decisions on their own.
That may very well be, but we’ve all heard (or experienced) enough horror stories about air travel with little ones to know otherwise. There are many wonderful employees who will go to great lengths to assist parents traveling with small children, but there are also ones who really don’t give a shit. A bill like this ensures that parents and pregnant women have one less thing to panic over when boarding a flight.
Because god knows they already have enough to deal with.