Your Money MattersConsumer Reports


Consumer Reports: Sky-high cost of air travel with kids

kids flying.JPG
Posted at 4:00 AM, Nov 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-08 08:58:41-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - On a trip to see his grandmother in Las Vegas, Hudson Palacio got his wings by flying solo, which was a first for the 12-year-old New York native. Although a safe and successful trip for the Palacio family, sending off a child alone on a flight can come with anxieties, and hefty fees.

“Airlines have been raising fees on services for years, and charging more to watch over unaccompanied minors is no exception," says Consumer Reports Money Editor, Donna Rosato.

In addition to the airfare, the standard fee for an unaccompanied minor has in some cases more than doubled over the past decade from $200-300 depending on the airline. And the fees don’t stop there: If you actually want to sit next to your kids, you might have to pay for that, too!

“With the rise in “basic economy” fares, often the only way you can guarantee your family can sit together is to pay more to reserve a seat , and that can be hundreds of dollars more," says Rosato.

Consumer Reports says that separating children from their parents during flights is not only stressful, but it also poses safety risks if there is an in-flight emergency.

“We’ve reviewed more than 100 complaints by consumers to the Department of Transportation about this issue," says Rosato. "They are rightfully upset because this is a potential safety issue.”

If you can’t fork over the extra cash, CR says you can try calling the airline when booking your flight and say you’re traveling with young children. If you don’t realize that you and your children are separated until you arrive at the airport, talk with a gate agent and see if they can make a change, but keep in mind it could cost you money.

Consumer Reports says when you have a problem you should file a complaint. The Department of Transportation says it will continue to monitor the issue of family seating.