Undated photo of a United Airlines passenger plane in flight. United said Monday it will make it easier for families to sit together. File Photo courtesy of United Airlines
Feb. 20 (UPI) -- United Airlines said Monday it will enhance the ability for families to sit together under a new policy that makes it easier for children 12 and under to sit next to an adult.
The carrier said a new online seating engine allows customers to access features for family seating, reviewing available economy seating with optional complimentary upgrades.
"Customers traveling with children under 12 will start to see more adjacent seat options immediately and the complete policy change will go into effect in early March," United said in a statement.
"In instances when adjacent seats are not available prior to travel -- due to things like last minute bookings, full flights or unscheduled aircraft changes -- United's new policy also lets customers switch for free to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seat availability in the same cabin."
The move comes after President Joe Biden addressed new scrutiny on such free accommodations in recent months through his Competition Agenda.
"In an era where more families are working in a hybrid environment, they're traveling more often -- and they're flying United," Linda Jojo, chief customer officer for United, said in a statement.
"We're focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat. We look forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year."
Delta Air Lines told CNBC on Monday it blocks certain rows of seats so families can sit together.
"Delta does not charge family seating fees and regardless of the ticket class purchased, will always work with customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure their family seating needs are met," Delta said.
United appeared to downplay Delta's efforts in its statement.
"Many airlines try and use a more manual process to seat families together that can include blocking random seats or asking agents to facilitate seat swaps at the gate," United said. "Those circumstances often result in more stress and a longer boarding process for everyone."