Traveling with children isn’t always an easy task. Many parents begin to worry well before the plane leaves the ground. While all airlines accommodate children, it’s good to have an idea ahead of booking which airlines may make the difference between arriving at your destination in one piece and arriving with a smile on your face.
Most parents who have flown with children know that other passengers are skeptical of children, and especially babies on board. Isn’t it every flyers fear to be seated next to the non-stop crying baby or the in front of the child who kicks your seat the whole flight? Parents can be prepared by choosing carriers that will help make the flight easier for everyone. Also be sure to talk with your child, if they’re old enough, to explain what is and isn’t appropriate for an airplane. Finally most people are sympathetic to parents facing a rough time in the air. To those that aren’t try your best to ignore them.
Best Airlines for Traveling with Children
It’s important to know that most domestic airlines don’t offer discounts for children over the age of 2. When you’re flying internationally many, but not all, carriers do offer a discount based on the age of the child. What you will want to look for to find the best fit is the amenities offered as well as the demeanor of the in-flight staff. Book seats together so that you don’t have to worry about being interspersed with other passengers. If you find you’re separated ask to be reseated at the gate desk or onboard with one of the flight attendants. Most passengers are more than happy to move so that children and parents can sit together.
When you’re planning on traveling with children, here are some of the best airlines to consider.
US Domestic Carriers for Traveling with Children:
United Airlines – If you have a child under the age of 2, they can fly for free if they sit on your lap with UA (as well as most other carriers). United offers more space in economy class as well as seat back entertainment that includes children’s movies and video games to keep them entertained.
JetBlue – This discount carrier offers some amenities traditional carriers don’t like seat back entertainment in every seat. Children can watch a TV show, movie, or play a game while in the air. For parents with small children, especially toddlers, there is more room to move around in the seats. The staff is also quite pleasant and accommodating to families with children.
Best International Carriers for Traveling with Children
British Airways and Air France – Meals are served for children, which is not the case on most domestic carriers. Parents also have the option of blocking inappropriate channels with seat back entertainment. Activity packs are available for toddlers and older children to keep them occupied during long flights. Bassinets are available for small babies (limited in number) so be sure to request this at check in. Most flights also have discounted ticket prices for children and the option for a lap child under two to fly with a drastically reduced cost.
Emirates or Qatar Airways – These two Gulf carriers are known for their exceptional service, amazing food, and attention paid to customers on board. Even if you’re in economy class you will have a great experience. They even offer an on-board nanny to help with and entertain children. While prices may be a little more, they have many benefits if you’re making a long haul flight.
Other Things to Know about Traveling with Children by Air
Many airlines offer advance boarding for families traveling with children. This might be a good idea if you don’t want to walk through rows of people, however the sooner you get on the plane the longer your kids have to sit on the plane. Consider boarding near the end so that children have more time to move around before being confined to their seat. If you have an active toddler this is an especially helpful tip.
Bring along healthy snacks! Few domestic carriers offer anything more than a beverage on flights. Inevitably your child will be hungry and without snacks you’ll be stuck purchasing the $10 in flight snack box.
Enjoy it! If you’re nervous and tense your child will be too. If you’re sure that things will go wrong, they likely will. Instead try and enjoy this time and experience and you’ll likely find it isn’t as bad as you imagined.
What are your favorite airlines for traveling with children? Tell us in the comments!