ATLANTA, July 17, 2012 — U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has introduced legislation to help keep families seated together on commercial flights.
Nadler said he introduced the so-called “Families Flying Together Act of 2012″ in response to airlines’ “ever-increasing fees and decreasing transparency.”
If approved, the measure would require the Department of Transportation mandate airlines “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; and (2) make the policy…available to the public on an appropriate Internet Web site of the air carrier.” The legislation, Nadler contends, would help guarantee children sit near their families when flying.
“Air travel is complicated and expensive enough for families without adding new stresses,” Nadler said in a statement. “Families should not be stuck paying hidden fees, or buying ‘premium’ seats, simply because they wish to be seated together on crowded flights. It is positively absurd to expect a two or three-year-old to sit unattended, next to strangers, on an airplane. It is up to air carriers to make their seating policies clear and easily accessible to the public.”
The main issue appears to be the number of fees airlines are charging, including upping the costs for aisle and bulkhead seats.
“The unbundling of ancillary, or ‘hidden fees,’ have gotten to the point where no one can estimate the cost of air travel with any reasonable certainty,” Kate Hanni, executive director of FlyersRights.org said in a statement. “Now, this added stressor for families forces them to decide whether to drive or to find alternative transportation to their destinations.
“I think airline passengers are asking themselves what’s next in the area of hidden fees,” Hanni added. “Oxygen? A seat belt? Pay to potty? Stand up seating? It appears that everything is on the table.”
Perhaps the biggest moneymaker among the fees that airlines charge is for bags.
During the first quarter of 2012, airlines collected nearly $815.8 million in baggage fees, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That’s an increase from the nearly $783.7 million in such fees collected during the first quarter of 2011.
In the first quarter of 2012, Delta Air Lines led the way, collecting more than $198.3 million in baggage fees. Delta was followed by United Airlines (with nearly $156,8 million), American Airlines (with more than $139.2) and U.S. Airways (with more than $124.3 million).
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