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Family Travelers Heart Jerrold Nadler

Congressman Jerrold Nadler

Finally, after months (years?) of alienation and discrimination by the commercial airline industry, traveling families have notched a major victory: the Families Flying Together Act of 2012.

This legislation, introduced today by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), preserves and protects a handful of basic rights for families traveling by air.

Specifically, it would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to direct each carrier to “establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight.”

The bill also would require carriers to make their policies available to the public online.

To be fair, this thing is still just a bill—it needs to be approved and made into law. But the notion of having anyone—much less a U.S. Congressman—in the corner of family travelers these days is pretty exciting.

The environment in the airline industry hasn’t exactly been very family-friendly. At least one airline has created kid-free zones on its airplanes, and others are contemplating doing the same. Many carriers have eliminated advanced boarding for parents with small children, and two of them—Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines—now charge for confirmed seat reservations (which hurts families that want to guarantee they can sit together).

Forecasts for the summer were grave in May, when Christopher Elliott reported that some airlines were reserving more window and aisle seats for passengers willing to pay (up to $60) more.

Hopefully, Nadler’s bill will quell this particular movement before it gains momentum on the national scale. If nothing else, I hope the proposed act raises awareness about what is de-evolving into a plight for family travelers.

We’re desperate for respect. We need all the help we can get.

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