Family groups naturally want to sit together during flights - when travelling with young children this becomes essential.
However, flying to short haul destinations on aircraft such as Boeing 737s or Airbus 320s, can make this tricky as their cabins are configured into rows of three seats either side of the single aisle. Not ideal if there are more than three of you travelling together!
Some people assume they have to pay for reserved seating when they book a flight to ensure family groups sit together, but is this actually necessary? In a word, no! Civil Aviation Authority guidance is quite clear
Airlines are expected to sit family groups together when they check-in for their flight, either at the desk in the terminal or in advance at home online. This is particularly the case if the group contains a child under 12, who should be seated in the same seat row segment as an accompanying adult. If this is not possible for any reason then the child has to be seated no more than one seat row away. This can happen if a single adult is travelling with three or more children, for example. On larger, twin aisle, aeroplanes children should not be seated more than one seat row or aisle away from an accompanying adult.
Regulators, such as the CAA, fully expect airlines to comply with this rule, and, to be fair, check-in staff and cabin crew generally do everything they can to accommodate family groups. Passengers can of course pay for reserved seating if they so wish, but families travelling together should be aware that they do not actually need to.
Updated guidance on seating policies for all European airlines is due to be published later this year. The CAA will be working to make sure UK airlines follow this new guidance and we will continue to push for greater transparency to help consumers make informed choices about their flight bookings.
See our guidance on seating allocation for more information.