What President Biden’s proposed ‘junk fee’ bill would mean for travelers

Biden spoke out on airline fees earlier this year

In February, President Joe Biden called for a Junk Fee Prevention Act to remove unfair and costly fees found throughout various industries, including airlines. The President called on Congress to, among other things, ban airline fees for family members to sit with their young children.

“Many airlines today charge a fee to select a seat in advance, including for those traveling with children,” the White House noted. “Parents can find themselves unexpectedly not seated with their young child on a flight or paying large fees to sit next to their children. The President believes no parent should have to pay extra to sit next to their child.”

Despite the Department of Transportation announcing a policy in July 2022 that says U.S. airlines must ensure children under the age of 14 must be seated next to an accompanying adult at no extra charge, airlines did not regularly guarantee fee-free family seating before the announcement.

“We’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round-trip for a family just to be able to sit together,” Biden said during his speech. “Baggage fees are bad enough. Airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”

On Feb. 1, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced a plan to launch a dashboard that will display which airlines currently guarantee family seating on airplanes. According to the DOT, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Frontier Airlines are the only carriers that currently guarantee fee-free family seating.

“DOT is not satisfied with airline statements that they will ‘make efforts’ to seat families traveling with children together at no additional cost,” the department reported. “The Department urges all airlines to guarantee family seating. DOT will update the dashboard above to provide air travelers clear information about the airlines that commit to providing adjacent seats for a young child and an accompanying parent and those that do not.”