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Bill seeks to keep families together in airplanes

July 15, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • United Airlines business-class passengers fly to Hawaii.
United Airlines business-class passengers fly to Hawaii. (Richard Derk / For The Times )

A New York lawmaker has introduced legislation to make it easier for family members to sit together on a plane.
But the $1-trillion airline industry said says no such law is needed.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation last week that would direct airlines 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.”
A spokesman for Nadler said the government can’t force airlines to waive fees for premium seats so that families can sit together at no extra cost. But he said it can require that airlines draft a policy on the subject and make it public so passengers could can see which airlines were are family friendly.
“We are not forcing anyone to do our bidding,” said Ilan Kayatsky, a spokesman for the congressman.
But Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation’s airline industry, says family members can sit together without paying higher fees by simply booking tickets early.
“Airline seats, much like tickets to sporting events or concerts are at their greatest availability when purchased early, which is when most families book travel.”
The trade group said families also have many of airlines to choose from.
“As with all other products and industries, it is the market that can — and should — determine how air travel is priced, not the government.”

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