More and more airlines are developing their policies towards families to make flying easier for both the parents and the kids.
Take Virgin Australia for example, they recently made a successful bid to become Australia’s Family Friendly airline by promoting the use of comfort devices like the BedBox on their flights.
Here we have shared how airlines have improved their service for families. Some of these points can, and have, been achieved by the majority of airlines, others are a little more unique to the world’s most family friend airlines.
First up, the easiest way airlines can and have made the flying experience better for parents of young children is by excelling in customer service. A simple holding a bag whilst a parent sorts out their seat, or saying hello to a screaming baby who suddenly stops at the new attention, can make all the difference.
“An airline’s customer service strengths and weaknesses are amplified when you travel with children, friendly staff will be even more helpful to families, while employees with a poor customer service approach can make matters worse for families than they do adults travelling alone.”
says Jason Steele, CEO and Founder of ThePointsGuy, in his assessment on The Most Family Friendly Airlines for (US) Domestic and Short Haul Flights.
What to expect on most airlines
Not all airlines will have these perks, but search around on an airline’s website to find their kids’ page to find out what they offer. Here are some examples how airlines have made flying easier:
Family Priority Boarding
If you are a family that wants to board first in order to prepare the space around you, airlines often allow families with young children to board the plane before others. Some airlines even allow those families to board before First Class!
Free Checked Bag
Travelling with children is not as light as backpacking the world pre-kids. The opportunity to check in as much luggage as possible means parents have a lot less on their shoulders (excuse the pun) during the journey.
When an airline offers a meal on board there is often the option to order a jar of baby food in advance. Sometimes food and bottle warming services are also available.
In flight entertainment
Even the overhead screens shared between several rows that show a silent cartoon help a restless little one stay focused for a while. Inflight entertainment systems on long haul flights offer a kids section and sometimes a parent lock so you can control what they watch.
Regardless the length of your flight, flight attendants often welcome on board kids by presenting them with a soft toy or small activity pack.
If you are flying long haul with an infant under 12 months (generally up to 70cm) then contact the airline after booking the tickets to reserve a bassinet on the bulkhead seats. Some airlines take a fee for this, whilst others offer it for free. Availability is limited due to the high demand.
There are airlines who have gone above and beyond the status quo. JetKids believes these airlines have set shining examples for other airlines to follow in order to make flying with kids something doesn’t have to be a “never again” experience.
The United Arab Emirates flag carrier airline, Etihad, has an inflight nanny available on their long and extra long haul flights. These nannies are flight attendants who have undertaken special training at Norland College (known for where the British Royal Family recruit their nannies from). The nannies allows solo flying parents to go to the bathroom and eat a meal in peace whilst the kids are occupied with the following activities:
- arts & crafts
- hand puppets
- drawing competitions
- face paints
- paper crowns & pilot hats
- certificates for young flyers
Etihad officially approves of the BedBox.
Eva Air has an original take on making the flying experience EVEN MORE fun for kids. They have kitted out 3 A330-300s in a Hello Kitty theme – inside and out! Cartoon characters appear in all aspects of the journey and each seat comes with a 9inch touch screen for inflight entertainment.
Eva Air officially approves of the BedBox.
Like other airlines, Qatar Airways, has designed a kids friendly meal. However, Qatar has made sure that kids can take their lunch home with them in their very own lunch box! The airline also provides a large activity pack. There is a service kit available for infants which even includes spare nappies!
Qatar Airways does not have any official policy on the BedBox so JetKids cannot guarantee you will be able to use it on their flights. However, we know many people use the BedBox on their flights and we have never heard of anyone not being able to use it with them.
Feed Kids First
British Airways has smartly decided to prioritise kids when it comes to serving food and make sure that what the kids eat is nutritionally balanced. Children don’t always plan when they want to eat around the times planned by the airlines, so making sure hungry, tired little ones are not waiting around for their food can make a plane journey a lot quieter.
British Airways does not have any official policy on the BedBox so JetKids cannot guarantee you will be able to use it on their flights. However, we know people have used the BedBox on their flights.
Prepare Before Flying
JetFriends Club is Lufthansa’s child and teen orientated website and flying program. Simply log onto their website before flying to introduce your child to the flight, play games and print off colouring for the journey.
Lufthansa does not have any official policy on the BedBox so JetKids cannot guarantee you will be able to use it on their flights. However, we know people have used the BedBox on their flights.
All of these are lovely perks to flying but even if the airline you are flying with does not have these, customer service is all that is needed to make the journey a pleasant experience.
Do you have any particularly good experiences with airlines with flying with young children? Let us know in our post on this topic in our Facebook Group Flying With Kids.