The President wants everyone to be more like American Airlines.
While he gears up for what is generally expected to be an announcement that he is running for reelection, President Joe Biden has been indicating that one of his main approaches will be zeroing in on the sort of day to day annoyances that people hate, but have resigned themselves to.
There’s various possible reasons for this approach. Biden has long touted his connection with everyday Americans trying to make ends meet, and fixing even small problems can counteract cynicism about the government’s ability to fix anything.
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It’s also the case that actions like eliminating junk fees on hotels, concert tickets, and airlines providers is widely popular, and is an issue that is hard to politicize (neither Republican nor Democrats enjoy feeling gouged). It’s also, one would think, politically difficult to take the side of junk fees, though apparently some people are trying.
Biden has been zeroing in on airlines especially lately, and now he’s urging the aviation industry to follow the lead of American Airlines (AAL) – Get Free Report.
American Airlines Made a Big Change
Recently, American Airlines instituted a policy that guarantees that children will be seated next to an accompanying adult, as part of an updated customer service plan.
Frontier (ULCC) – Get Free Report as also introduced a new policy where children 11 and under can sit next to an accompanying adult without extra charges, provided they are willing to switch flights if necessary.
Similarly, United’s latest technology upgrade will find available adjacent seats at the time of booking for parties that include a child 11 and under.
If no adjoining seats are available, United (UAL) – Get Free Report will provide families and traveling parties the option of booking preferred economy seats, which normally costs extra, free of charge.
Biden Wants the Rest of the Aviation Industry to Follow
Biden has called on the rest of the airline to take similar steps and eliminate family seating fees as part of their customer service plans.
“No one should have to pay extra to be seated with their kids,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Time for more airlines to follow suit.”
In his State of the Union speech from January, the President said, “Americans are tired of being played for suckers. Baggage fees are bad enough—airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”
The White House had indicated that it’s not just going to ask politely, as the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to propose regulations to bar airlines from family seating fees.
Additionally, next week the DOJ will launch a government dashboard that will reveal which airlines have committed to not charging such fees.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the family seating dashboard will “show which airlines guarantee families can sit together for free” and praised American Airlines for “becoming the first U.S. airline to commit to putting this guarantee in its customer service plan.”
So far, American Airlines is the only company to put the family policy change in its Customer Service plans. Airlines that do not honor commitments in written plans risk facing enforcement actions from the U.S. Department of Transportation.