Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


IDEAS: United Airlines Appeals to Families with Sesame Street Travel Kits

7 months ago

United Airlines has unveiled Children’s Travel Kits in collaboration with Sesame Workshop.

The kits feature an Oscar the Grouch color and activity book with crayons, Oscar the Grouch slide puzzle, and a sensory calming strip designed to help soothe anxiety and fidgeting. All of these activities aim to keep kids occupied in the air and will be available onboard during select flights for flyers ages 2-12.

Courtesy of United Airlines

United had previously announced Oscar the Grouch as the airline’s Chief Trash Officer, who serves as an expert on how sustainable aviation fuel is created from waste like “banana peels, leftover cooking oil, woody biomass and, yep, trash.”

United has also recently revealed wellness-driven amenity kits, featuring products from Venus Williams’ brand, Asutra.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Frontier Is Latest Airline to Improve Family Seating

1 year ago

Frontier Airlines is now automatically seating children with a family member or adult in their party for free.

It announced the new measure on Tuesday, and said it applies to children under the age of 14.

Its booking engine now automatically assigns seats based on family members’ ages before the check-in window opens.

The new feature follows United Airlines’ launch of a new seat map and policy that allows passengers to switch flights for free — amid calls to remove unfair fees.

“We recognize the importance of seating children next to an adult with whom they are traveling,” said Daniel Shurz, senior vice president, commercial, at Frontier.


United Airlines Will Now Let Families Switch Flights for Free to Find Adjacent Seats

1 year ago

United Airlines has launched a new seat map feature that dynamically finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking, while a new policy will allow passengers to switch flights for free if none are available.

The tweak to the online seat booking engine is designed to help sit children under 12-years-old next to an adult in their party for free, and follows calls by the Biden administration to ban airlines from charging family-seating fees.

If adjacent seats aren’t available prior to travel due to last-minute bookings, full flights, or unscheduled aircraft changes, United said on Monday that it will let customers switch for free to a flight to the same destination with adjacent seat availability in the same cabin. Customers won’t be charged if there is a difference in fare price between the original and new flight.

United said 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. It claims those circumstances often result in more stress and a longer boarding process.

Polaris, First Class, and Economy Plus seats are excluded from its family seating policy change.

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.


85 Percent of U.S. Parents Planning to Travel With Children in the Next Year

1 year ago

Eight-five percent of parents said in the 2022 U.S. Family Travel Survey released on Wednesday that they’re very likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months, another sign of family travel’s strong recovery.

In addition, 47 percent of the 1,000 respondents in the survey by the Family Travel Association and the New York University School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality said they’re planning to take a multi-generational family trip. Meanwhile, 46 percent of respondents said they’re planning to travel with family members beyond parents and-in laws.

Family travel spending is also poised to surge in the next year. Fifty-three percent of respondents plan to spend more on domestic travel in the next year while 49 percent expect to increase spending on international travel.

The survey reveals the waning impact of the pandemic on travel decisions. Only 10 percent of respondents not planning to travel said they felt unsafe because of the pandemic, a 14 percentage point drop from last year. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believe the pandemic is largely contained and they felt comfortable traveling without many restrictions.

However, more than half of parents surveyed said their travel behaviors and preferences had changed in the last two years — 45 percent of respondents said somewhat while 13 percent said a lot. Almost half of all respondents said the pandemic triggered the changes while 28 percent attributed the shift to the their financial situation, including the impact of inflation. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they now check cancellation policies when they booking trips while 47 percent said they now buy travel insurance.

“This year’s survey shows that while the pandemic impacts family travel less than last year, the last two years have also led to changes that are likely to last,” said Dr. Lynn Minnaert, former clinical associate professor at the Tisch Center.

“Families are excited to get back out there, but peace of mind and value for money are key priorities when they make travel decisions.”

Mother and son
Family travel is poised to boom in the next year (Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flickr)


Airlines Told to Stop Charging Adults Extra for Adjacent Seating for Children

2 years ago

The U.S. Office of Aviation Consumer Protection has issued a notice urging airlines to do “everything in their power” to ensure children aged 13 or below are seated next to an accompanying adult with no additional charge.

The U.S. Department of Transport said it continued to receive a low number of complaints from consumers about family seating, but there were complaints that involved instances where young children, even as young as 11 months, were not being seated next to an accompanying adult.

In November the office will review airline policies. If their seating policies and practices are barriers to a child sitting next to an adult family member or other accompanying adult family member, the department said it will consider additional action consistent with its authorities.