It was probably only a matter of time before it came to this;  American Airlines has quietly begun to charge passengers for the availability to sit together.  Said differently - in order to guarantee that your seat will be grouped together with your child or spouse, you'll have to pay extra for it.

American Airlines calls it "Premium Seating".  That "Premium Seating" will now set you back $60.

So what can be done about it?  Not much, according to elected officials.

In July, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington became the latest group to ask federal regulators to step in and forbid airlines from separating children and parents on planes. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), also in July, introduced the “Families Flying Together Act of 2012.” Elliot thinks the sentiment is good, but he warns that the issue isn't as simple as it sounds.

"I'm concerned when the government starts to regulate things like this and thus have to define what a family is," he said. "What about couples who aren't married, for example? Would they have right to demand to sit together as families?

So what can a passenger do?  Expert fliers suggest that the general public should become more informed about airline regulations and fees and to voice their objections in order to raise awareness of the issues.

Airlines 'playing chicken' with passengers, charging 'you-get-to-sit-with-your-kid' fee - Red Tape.