So you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy the whole family plane tickets. It’s a great option! You can all get to the same place in a much shorter amount of time. There isn’t hours upon hours — or days — of driving, just a few quick hours of flying.
But since doing many things with small children can take more time, planning, and energy, it’s important to find an airline that is family-friendly. Look for these five factors before buying your plane tickets.
What does family-friendly mean, exactly? On flights, you can expect an airline that is “family-friendly” to be understanding and accommodating. Children can sometimes be unpredictable. They have accidents, they don’t feel good, they act out — all normal parts of childhood. A great airline will understand this and not make you feel bad for traveling with them.
Studies have shown that people who travel with children are 56% more likely to be stressed after a trip than those without kids at home. Save yourself some trouble and plan ahead before the trip even begins.
Read the airlines policies. Do they offer extra pillows or blankets if you need them? Are they free or do they come at a cost? See if what your child eats and drinks will be available on the flight. Are juice, water, and milk available, or are there only soda drinks? By checking out theairlines’ policies, you’ll be able to get a better feel if they are family-friendly — or not.
Keep the Kids Together
Whether flying with one child or 10, it’s important to keep them all together. Some airlines don’t let ticket holders choose the seats they want — or need — for their trip. Instead of timing it just right to click on a link and hope you get a seat or two together, shop with an airline that lets you pick your seats ahead of time.
Above all, aim for airlines that don’t charge anything extra to pick the seats you need. Chosen seats should be included in the original ticket price, so you won’t be paying an arm and a leg to make sure your children are seated together with you, safe and sound.
Before you buy, check to see what the rules and regulations are regarding keeping families together during processes like check-in and boarding.
Some airlines offer — at no extra charge — families priority boarding, usually with an age association (ex. All families with children under age five can board first).
Flying can be scary and stressful for young children. Don’t make their experience any more hectic by overwhelming them with people and lines. Look for priority boarding for families.
Read the Reviews
Take to the Internet, and you’ll be sure to get some answers. Wondering if an airline is family-friendly? What does an airline and its crew do if a baby starts to cry during the flight? What is their customer service like? Do some digging and you’ll quickly find the answers you need.
Oftentimes when travelers have really great — or horribly bad — experiences, they are quick to talk about them. Check out sites like Google, Yelp, and other blogs for first-hand, un-filtered opinions on which airlines treat families best.
Keeping children busy and happy is key while traveling. Does the airline have any in-air/on-flight entertainment? If there will be a movie playing on one screen for the whole plane, is it appropriate? If there are individual seat-back TVs, do they have kid-friendly shows?
If the answers to these questions are no, you’ll need to provide your own entertainment. How many carry-ons can you bring for free, if any at all? You will need plenty of room to pack some goodies for your little ones. Check if the airline has ample room for storing all of the backpacks and sacks you’ll be bringing for the family.
Before you buy your next set of plane tickets, make sure the airline is the right one for you and your family. After checking to see it meets all the needs of you and your children, you’ll be set to have fun, stress-free, family-friendly travel!