Sen. Schumer to airlines: Stop splitting up families on flights

Airlines shouldn’t be allowed to force parents and their children to sit separately aboard flights, Sen. Chuck Schumer demanded on Sunday.

The New York Democrat called out carriers for not having policies in place that ensure parents and children under 13 can sit together — despite a 2016 law that was supposed to fix the issue.

“While complaints by parents seated rows away from their own kids on flights continue to climb, what’s flying under the radar is the fact that the feds were supposed to fix this problem in 2016 via a law now on the books, but they haven’t, and they should,” Schumer said in a statement.

The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 directed the transportation secretary to look into guidelines for airlines that would keep families together.

But, to date, nothing has been enacted, Schumer said.

The lawmaker urged DOT Secretary Elaine Chao to get moving on the problem ahead of the holiday travel season, in a letter released Sunday.

“With the holiday travel season upon us, I urge you to establish a policy to ensure that children 13 and under will not be seated apart from their parents on commercial aircraft,” Schumer wrote to Chao.

Some families, Schumer said, are forced to pay extra fees to sit together — and in some cases, were split up anyway.

Schumer cited a report from non-profit Consumer Reports, which found that 136 complaints were filed against airlines for separating parents from children between March 2016 and November 2018.

In seven of the cases, kids as young as two were split up from their parents. In two cases, United Airlines broke up families traveling with 1-year-olds, the report found.

One family with a child that suffers from seizures was torn apart by American Airlines, according to the report.

The DOT hasn’t acted “citing a ‘low number of complaints,’ ” Schumer said.

But “complaints numbering 136 are not a ‘low number,’ and even one instance of a young child being separated from their family on a commercial flight is unacceptable and quite frankly, disturbing,” Schumer wrote to Chao.

“Airlines should have a responsibility to put families first over profits and fees, and the [DOT] must act now to come up with sensible guidelines,” Schumer wrote.

Less than one percent of the more than 10,000 grievances against airlines in the DOT’s consumer complaints database between June 2016 and May 2017 involved family seating, a spokesperson told The Post.

The DOT, in 2018, published a webpage devoted to family seating with tips for parents traveling with young children and links to the policies of different airlines. It also set up a page for folks to log their complaints about family seating problems, and is continuing to monitor the issue, the spokesperson said.

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