Avoid Extra Charges When Flying With Kids With This Genius Tip

If you're well-accustomed to booking flights, you likely already know that the published prices you see when browsing shouldn't always be taken at face value. The $60 round-trip flight to your home state that appears to be a sweet deal may end up costing double, or maybe even triple by the time you finally book it. The sad truth is that many airlines are often stealthy when it comes to airfare, squeezing in hidden fees that can sometimes be easy to miss. If you're booking in a rush, you may accidentally pay for extra amenities that you don't want or need since they're often automatically added to the airfare.

Apart from the actual cost of the flight, it's customary for many airlines to add ancillary fees like checked baggage charges, booking fees, and in-flight amenities like Wi-Fi access and premium snacks. Some even charge a fee for printing out your boarding passes, with low-cost carriers like Spirit charging $25 for a physical copy of your pass. If you're not careful enough or don't opt for unbundled airfare, you may find yourself forking over more than you planned for a single flight.

While there are times when you have no choice but to shell out for these extra costs — like if you wish to work in-flight and require stable internet access, for instance — you don't always have to. In fact, if you're traveling with kids and want to sit together as a family during the flight, you no longer have to spring for an assigned seat.

You don't have to pay for assigned seating for your child

If you're traveling with your children, it's natural to fuss over what your seating arrangement will be like when you're on the plane. You don't want to be separated from them the whole trip, so you may be tempted to pay for assigned seating just to ensure that you're together. But with seats costing as much as $23 each way, it might not make financial sense to spend that much on assigned seating, especially if you're booking flights for a large group.

The good news is that the U.S. Department of Transportation has urged airlines to forego seating fees for families traveling together. Alaska, American Airlines, and Frontier have all already obliged, with each promising to allow kids under 12 years old to sit adjacent to their guardians. Certain senators have also proposed the Families Fly Together Act, which mandates airlines to allow children under 13 to sit with their adult family members free of charge. 

This rule isn't in effect at the time of writing, so for now, check out DOT's airline family seating dashboard for an updated list of airlines that can guarantee free assigned seating for your family. The agency also suggests booking flights early to guarantee reserved seats, as well as contacting your preferred airline directly to check if they can allot adjacent seats for your whole family, or at least ensure that the minors in the group are seated beside adults.