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United Airlines

United Airlines confirmed the accuracy of this table on September 3, 2019.  Airline policies are subject to change.  Additional information is available on United’s website here.

Tips for families: How would an adult best ensure he or she is seated next to a family member under the age of 14 when flying your airline?

  • Book as early as possible and reserve seats together at the time of purchase.
    • Customers purchasing Basic Economy tickets (United’s lowest economy fare type) may want to consider purchasing advance seat assignments, if available, or selecting a different fare option because Basic Economy does not include complementary advance seat selection.
    • If only scattered seats are available during booking, you have a better opportunity for children in your family to sit with adult family members by not selecting seats as United’s system will attempt to seat families on the same reservation with unassigned seats together (see below).
  • Book children on the same reservation as adults.
    • United will only know that you are traveling with your family if your group is on the same reservation record. 
    • If you have not selected seats in advance, a few days before your flight United’s automated system will attempt to find adjoining seats for you and your children under 15 on the same reservation.  This automation applies to customers regardless of fare.  However, available seats may be limited at that time and your family or group may be split. 
    • United’s system also prioritizes keeping groups on the same reservation together if seats must be reassigned due to an equipment change.
  • Confirm any seat selections made through an online travel agent on
    • Indirect booking channels may not offer real-time seating inventory. 
  • Arrive early at your departure gate and talk to the gate agent who will try to seat families together.
  • United agents will ask for volunteers to move seats to make adjacent seats available for families with children

Seating Policy

Seating Model: Does your airline provide seat assignments or does it use an open seating model?

  • United Airlines provides seat assignments.

Advance Seat Selection: Does your airline enable consumers to reserve seats at booking?

  • Advance seat selection is available for First Class, Economy, and generally for Basic Economy tickets.  However, advance seat assignments may not be offered with some Basic Economy tickets due to limited seating availability.

Fee: Does your airline charge an additional fee for these advance seat reservations?

  • Advance seat selection is complementary with First Class and Economy Tickets.  Customers booking Basic Economy tickets must pay an additional fee for advance seat selection, if available.


Airline: What disclosures relevant to family seating does your airline provide to consumers during the booking process?

  • United’s website booking disclosure labels Basic Economy as the “most restricted” ticket and includes a “pop-up” comparison chart that displays an “X” for each attribute not included in a Basic Economy ticket, including that it does not enable the customer to choose a complimentary seat assignment or enable the passenger to sit with your group or family.  The “pop-up” requires the customer to affirmatively check a box to confirm understanding.  Information is also provided that seats are assigned prior to boarding and that advance seat assignments may be available for purchase during booking and up until check-in opens.
  • Customers booking by phone are notified about seating restrictions or other limitations related to families sitting together upon request.

Travel Agent: If your airline allows others to sell tickets on its behalf, do the family seating disclosures provided by these entities differ from the disclosures provided when booking directly with the airline?

  • Yes. The booking process for online travel agents may include a more limited disclosure during the booking path indicating that Basic Economy tickets require an additional fee for seat selection, but not in the form of a popup requiring the customer to confirm understanding.
  • Customers booking by phone are notified about seating restrictions or other limitations related to families sitting together upon request.
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2019
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