I am interested if there is any law or regulation which prohibits carriers from seating children in a seat not adjacent to their parent/guardian?

I am flying with a group of 17, which includes 2 infants (without allocated seats), but seven children ranging in age from 2-5. We opted not to pay the extra charge to pre-allocate seats, and the airline has allocated us seats spread around the aircraft in a configuration which does not allow an accompanying adult to sit next to a child.

I was sure there was some air law which prohibited this on safety grounds, but have been unable to find it.

This question relates to the EU, but answers regarding other jurisdictions welcome.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I always thought paid or unpaid seat pre-allocation was not guaranteed anyway, and could be overidden at checkin if other important requirements arose? In the past I've found that if you turn up early to the check in counter the staff will often be able to help you out. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 2:13
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This doesn't seem to be related to aviation, but to travel and airlines. I suggest to move this (old) question to Travel.SE. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ @mins - Im happy with whatever fits the community, although at the time I was interested in this not from the "travel and tourism" slant, but the aviation regulation and/or law POV. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 16:42

3 Answers 3


This is what I could find. I looked on the Civil Aviation Authority's website and found this article.

Seating Allocation

Families, children and infants

The seating of children close by their parents or guardians should be the aim of airline seat allocation procedures for family groups and large parties of children.

Young children and infants who are accompanied by adults, should ideally be seated in the same seat row as the adult. Children and accompanying adults should not be separated by more than one aisle. Where this is not possible, children should be separated by no more than one seat row from accompanying adults. This is because the speed of an emergency evacuation may be affected by adults trying to reach their children.

Whenever a number of infants and children are travelling together the airline should make every effort to ensure that they can be readily supervised by the responsible accompanying adults.

From what I read, it doesn't look like there is a law set in stone, but instead it is recommended by the CAA to be put in regular practice by airlines.

If there was a law then Ryanair would have been in serious trouble for charging people extra money to sit next to their kids.

Ryannair booking separates mum and tot

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Thank you. Amazingly quoting this CAA recommendation to the airline made them "magically" find a whole extra row in the aircraft. Maybe they bolted an extension on. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 10:18

I don't think there a "law", but the flight staff would prefer that.

When my children were young, they sometimes ended up separated from us. Usually they were just a row or two away from us. On several occasions the cabin personnel arrange with kind passengers to switch seats so my two children could at least be seated together.


Although there is not a rule about that, but since you are in a large group with many children, you may call the airline directly to see if they can make a special seat arrangement. Usually, they would do so.

  • $\begingroup$ Normal airline, sure. But those let you choose seats in the first place. Low-cost? Not likely; they want you to pay the extra for choosing seats. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:27

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