SAN ANTONIO – New rules and ballooning fees can impact holiday air travel for families whether children are traveling with parents or on their own.
Sending a child alone on a flight can come with more than anxiety. There may be sky-high fees.
"Airlines have been raising fees on services for years, and charging more to watch over unaccompanied minors is no exception," said Donna Rosato, money editor for Consumer Reports.
In addition to the airfare, the standard fee for an unaccompanied minor has, in some cases, more than doubled over the past decade from $200 to $300, depending on the airline.
If you want to sit next to your kids, you might have to pay for that, too.
"With the rise in 'basic economy' fares, often the only way you can guarantee your family can sit together is to pay more to reserve a seat, and that can be hundreds of dollars more," Rosato said.
Separating children from their parents is not only stressful for families, Rosato said, it also poses a danger if there is an in-flight emergency.
"We've reviewed more than 100 complaints by consumers to the Department of Transportation about this issue,” Rosato said. “They are rightfully upset because this is a potential safety issue.”
Consumer Reports recommends calling the airline when booking your flight and saying you're traveling with young children and ask to be seated together. If you realize that you and your children are separated after you arrive at the airport, talk with a gate agent and see if they can make a change.
Complaints can be filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which said it is continuing to monitor the issue of family seating on flights.