I want to book tickets for myself and my two young grandchildren to fly to Spain this summer. A friend has told me I shouldn’t bother paying to book seats together as the airline has to do this automatically with children. Are they correct? Mary, Cardiff

Your friend is correct. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has clear rules on how airlines seat children under 12 on flights. They should be seated next to a responsible adult, ideally in the same row and never separated by more than one seat row, although they could be separated by the aisle.

There’s actually a really good reason for this. If there’s an emergency, the evacuation of the plane could be affected by adults trying to reach their children.

Lots of airlines, even so-called full-service carriers like British Airways, now charge almost all passengers to reserve seats before departure. It’s a nice little earner for them. At £5 each way on BA, that could add £40 to the cost for an average family.

But if you’re travelling with kids, you won’t be split up if you haven’t prebooked. If they try to do this at check in, politely refuse and inform them of the CAA rules. Alternatively, the flight attendants are responsible for safety on board, so let them know the situation – they’ll have to sort it out for you.

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