4 U.S. Airlines That Seat Your Children With You for Free (And 6 That Make You Pay)

The airlines go the extra mile to keep your family together in-flight and the ones that don't.

family having fun
Updated May 28, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Flying with young children is a journey, and unfortunately, airlines are not legally obligated to seat parents and children 13 and under together. 

Even if you book with one of the top travel credit cards, paying additional fees to sit with kids can really add up.

However, due to some push from the Department of Transportation (DOT), some airlines have moved to guarantee parents can sit with kids at no additional charge. 

Here are the four airlines that offer the guarantee — and six that don't but may offer other perks/options.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Alaska Airlines

Maria Sbytova/Adobe cute boy playing with luggage

Alaska Airlines makes every attempt to seat children 13 and under with at least one accompanying parent or adult on the same reservation).

Your family must meet specific criteria to qualify, like being booked under the same reservation and either choosing seats or skipping seat selection for everyone on the reservation. 

You can’t book a prime location in the cabin and expect a child to be placed next to you without paying for their seat, for example.

Also, as ordered by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, any children under two can travel with you in your lap, which is standard for any airline.

Using a cashback card to book your flight could mean big savings for future travel plans such as free or seriously discounted flights.

American Airlines

nimito/Adobe stewardess talking to little girl traveling with pet

Currently, American Airlines is the only one of the big three airlines in the U.S. that guarantees children 14 and under can be seated with an accompanying adult.

Your family will also need to meet specific criteria to use this benefit. Like United, you must be booked under the same reservation and choose or forgo seat selection for all passengers. The family seating policy is available for all fares, including Basic Economy.

Frontier Airlines

Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe woman inside a plane

In addition to offering bargain flights, Frontier Airlines guarantees that children 13 and under can sit adjacent to a parent or accompanying adult, provided that adjacent seating is available on the aircraft.

The airline notes that they may not provide the seat numbers at the time of booking. However, they attempt to give the families their seating assignments at least a day before the scheduled flight, giving families time to inquire about any concerns or seating mistakes.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

JetBlue Airlines

Friends Stock/Adobe Happy family traveling together on passenger aircraft

JetBlue Airlines will also guarantee children 13 and under can sit with parents when specific criteria are met. As with the other airlines, people need to book the reservation together and select or not select seats for the whole party. 

JetBlue also mandates that there must be room on the aircraft. This policy applies equally to passengers who book Blue Basic fares.

JetBlue notes that even if the criteria are not met, they will still attempt to place children with their parents or an accompanying adult.

Allegiant Airlines

Monkey Business/Adobe family in airport departure

Allegiant Airlines notes they do their best to accommodate families or adult passengers traveling with children.

However, there's no guarantee that families can sit together while traveling unless they reserve seats together either while booking the flight or managing the reservation online before travel day, which is recommended for families who wish to sit together.

Delta Airlines

kasto/Adobe woman holding infant boy at airport

Despite being a major carrier, Delta Airlines has not yet gotten on board with the guaranteed family seating policy. 

Delta says they try to accommodate families and seat them together when possible. They recommend the best way to ensure adjacent seating is to reserve seats on their website, through a mobile app, or by contacting their reservations department.

The airline does have a policy where children ages five to 14 can travel on their own on nonstop domestic flights through their “Unaccompanied Minor Program.”

Hawaiian Airlines

aapsky/Adobe window of airport terminal

Hawaiian Airlines, which will be acquired by Alaska Airlines under a deal reached in late 2023, does not yet offer guaranteed family seating either. However, since Alaska offers the guarantee, this policy may be revamped once the deal goes through.

The airline notes that they try their best to seat children under 14 with an accompanying adult. Still, they suggest passengers select their seats far in advance to ensure families can sit together.

Southwest Airlines

kieferpix/Adobe Mother and son at airport

Southwest’s seat reservation system is a bit different since most passengers have no assigned seats. Instead, passengers are given a boarding group and a line position and may select a seat when they board the plane.

They do offer family boarding. Passengers with children can board during the “Family Boarding” time between Group A and B boarding. During family boarding, up to two adults traveling with a child six or under can board the aircraft and, ideally, find seats together.

Families can also purchase “EarlyBird Check-In.” This doesn’t guarantee Group A boarding, but it does get you on the plane earlier when more seats are available.

Spirit Airlines

NicoElNino/Adobe family walking through airport with luggage

An open secret among frequent travelers is that you book Spirit when you just want to get to your destination cheaply. However, you will have to shell out extra cash for any upgrades, which include seating, paying for carry-on bags, and more.

Spirit does note that they will attempt to accommodate families traveling with children aged 13 and under so that they can sit in adjacent seats, but there’s no guarantee. The best bet is to preselect and pay for seats next to each other before your travel day.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

United Airlines

Andrey Bandurenko/Adobe boy looking out of window in airplane

According to the DOT, United Airlines doesn’t guarantee that families can sit together on their planes just yet. The airline did say they have new tools that make it easier for children ages 12 and under to sit with an accompanying adult, even with Basic Economy tickets.

If the child and adult can’t be seated together on a flight for whatever reason, United will let them switch to another flight where the seating is available free of charge. There will be no charge even if the fare for the new flight is more expensive.

Bottom line

olenachukhil/Adobe family walling airport terminal with luggage

These days, air travel can be pretty pricey, especially when traveling with the whole family. To manage costs, it’s critical to be aware of any extra charges that may be tacked on to your trip.

If you have travel credit cards that let you earn travel rewards and other perks, you may be able to take advantage of upgrades and discounts. These perks may even help you save on your child’s airfare.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards


Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee



Why we like it

Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.