Woman and a girl pushing a trolley with a kid


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Flying with United Airlines is about to get more convenient for families thanks to the carrier's new family seating policy that allows parents to sit with their children without paying extra. 

United is rolling out new seat map technology that helps travelers find available adjacent seats when booking a flight to help keep parents with their children, as long as they are under 12 years old.

For parents flying with their kids trying to travel as affordably as possible, that sometimes means sacrificing sitting together as a family to avoid paying more to select specific seats. "Families flying with United typically paid between $75-$89 per person on top of their standard ticket price for the option to choose their own seats," a United customer service representative told Cheapism. For a family of four, that's about $400 in additional charges just to stick together — which often puts flying out of families' budgets (and let's be real, driving across the country with a carload of kids isn't as convenient as air travel).

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To better accommodate passengers, United's new seating policy assures parents they can expect to sit next to their kids as soon as they book rather than keep them guessing (and in many cases stressing) until boarding time. Passengers who book using the new and improved seat map will also find that if there aren't enough adjacent economy seats available, United has a plan B and a plan C. The airline will provide complimentary seating upgrades if needed, and if there are still no grouped seats up for grabs, customers can switch to a different flight heading to the same destination without paying extra.

Access to more free adjacent seats is effective immediately, and United customers can expect the policy change to be fully in force by early March. It applies only to Basic Economy seats.

United's move comes after the Department of Transportation issued a notice in July encouraging airlines to do all they can to ensure that children under age 14 are seated next to an accompanying adult without additional fees.

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