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Public Statements

Letter to the Honorable Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking the Department of Transportation to provide guidelines to US airlines to make sure that families are not charged more to sit together.

"As a parent, I know firsthand how stressful traveling can be with young children. It's appalling to require a parent to pay more just to sit with their young child," Braley said. "Iowa families are already forced to pay higher prices for airline tickets due to increased fares at smaller airports, so these new fees place an unnecessary burden on Iowa families."

Last week, an Associated Press article detailed how families traveling this summer could be forced to pay higher ticket prices to ensure that parents are able to sit with their children. Airlines continue to add fees, and one of these is to make window and aisle seats available only to frequent travelers or to those willing to pay more for preferred seating. This means that as airlines set aside more preferred seating for frequent travelers, parents often have to pay for these preferred seats to make sure that they are able to sit together as a family. Braley joins Sen. Schumer (D-NY) in calling for rules to ensure that families are able to sit together when flying.

The full text of Braley's most recent letter to Secretary LaHood follows.

The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary, Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. , NW
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

As you know, I wrote you six months ago asking you to investigate media reports
that suggested airlines were moving to a less family friendly business model. I've
attached a copy of that letter. I was deeply disturbed to learn that airlines plan to
charge families more just to allow parents the basic ability to watch and care for their children. Several of the major airlines are increasing their fees for aisle and window seats. These increased seat prices place a significant hardship on traveling families. Many families are now being forced to sit a part from each other on an airplane, unless they pay extra money for an aisle or window seat.

As a parent, I know firsthand how stressful traveling can be with young children.
It's appalling to require a parent to pay more just to sit with their young child.
Furthermore, Iowa families are often forced to pay higher prices for airline tickets due to increased fares at smaller airports. This being said, I urge the Department of Transportation to require airlines to instate a family exemption for seat fees. By
requiring airlines to have a family exemption, it will ensure that parents are not
separated from their young children when they are traveling.

I ask that you please respond to my letter within 10 business days with an
answer on whether or not the DOT will begin requiring airlines to institute a family
exemption rule. Thank you for your attention to my request and please feel free to
contact me if I can provide further assistance.

Sincerely,

Bruce L. Braley

The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary, Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

I want to direct your attention to a recent article that appeared in the Wall Street
Journal. This article details the travel nightmares that many families with small children go through while flying. I've included a copy of the article for your reference.

As a parent, I know firsthand how stressful traveling can be with young children.
A parent's worst nightmare is being separated from their young child because the child's seat was re-assigned to the back of the plane. This is something that clearly happens quite frequently.

As we approach the holiday travel season, millions of families with small children
will be traveling by air around the country. That being said, I would like to know what rules the Department of Transportation has in place to ease the stresses placed on families with small children who travel during the holidays. Please provide me with an answer to the following question:

* What rules does the Department have in place to ensure that airlines do
not separate children from their parents when traveling by air?
o If there are no rules in place, please explain why.

I ask that you please provide me with a response to this letter within 10 business
days. Thank you for your attention to my request and please feel free to contact me if I can provide further assistance.

Sincerely,

Bruce Braley


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