The European parliament opened an investigation in June after a Spanish mother was allegedly made to pay 4 euros to sit next to her three year old daughter.
In a survey of more than 4,200 people conducted by CAA, travelers most frequently cited being split from their party while traveling on Ryanair, but the airline insists that it doesn’t employ a family-splitting algorithm.
Ryanair says if a person doesn’t pay for their seat assignment, they are “randomly” assigned, which may result in them not sitting with their party. But the CAA found that when a passenger flies Ryanair, as compared to other airlines, the likelihood of being separated from their party doubled.
According to its study, 18% of all flyers surveyed were separated from their traveling companions if they chose to not pay to sit together. For Ryanair, that percentage jumped to 35%.
Preliminary research by the CAA found that six in 10 passengers paid extra to sit together on a flight because they believed they would be split up otherwise.