When we travel with family, we want everything to go as smoothly as possible. That’s why it helps if the airline you’re travelling with understands your child’s needs just as much as you do. These are the family-friendly features some of the best airlines can offer you you when you fly with them.
1. Infant seats Having to carry a baby in your arms for the duration of a flight can wear down even the most dedicated parent. Other than bringing your own child seat, so your baby has a seat of her own, some airlines provide it to you free of charge.
British Airways is one, for example. They can also provide carrycots, as long as you tell them in advance if you want either of those so they can place you in seats that can fit them. Virgin Atlantic takes it a step further by offering child seats that fit every on-board seat.
For local airlines, Philippine Airlines provides bassinets for babies below 6 months. They’re available in all aircrafts (except A319 and A320) on flights with a flying time of at least three hours. You have to tell them in advance though as they only fit certain seats and are limited in number.
2. Nannies and a bottle-warming service Get this: some airlines have on-board nannies, like Etihad Airways which offers the service free of charge on all of their long-haul flights. These nannies, called the “Etihad Airways Flying Nannies” received childcare training from renowned Norland College in the United Kingdom.
Gulf Air also has its own “Sky Nannies”. These specialist flight attendants accompany families while boarding, help prepare bassinets and keep kids entertained. Etihad’s nannies can even do face painting, magic tricks and arts and crafts with your child. In addition to nannies, Etihad also has a bottle-warming service for your baby. How cool is that?
3. Care packs Some airlines will shower your child with gifts and treats the moment she steps on board. Not only will this make her feel welcome and more at ease on the plane, her goodies will keep her entertained during the flight, too.
Virgin Atlantic’s kid’s pack includes a backpack, a child-sized eye mask, socks, a rainbow pen and an activity book. Emirates has a Lonely Planet-inspired kid’s pack to bring out your child’s inner adventurer. It includes a travel journal, a kids’ magazine, colored pencils and an eyemask. They also provide your child with a stuffed animal to accompany her on board.
4. The best inflight entertainment Keeping kids from getting bored on long-haul flights is definitely on the top of every parent’s list of concerns. The best airlines try to keep boredom at bay with an extensive inflight entertainment offering. JetBlue, which unfortunately doesn’t fly to the PH, has Animal Planet and Nickelodeon on flights over two hours. For shorter flights, they provide reading activity printables. Qantas, too, offers Nickelodeon as well as Disney.
But if you want the best, go for Emirates which not only won best airline in the world for 2016 from aviation website Skytrax, but also took home the prize for best inflight entertainment--which they have been bagging for 12 years in a row now. They have close to 600 movies on the largest in-seat screens, 50 full TV box sets and 100 inflight games to choose from.
Some airlines don’t just have movies and TV shows on board either. Asiana has face painting, inflight magic shows, crafts, fashion shows featuring traditional costumes from around the world, and even a cooking and baking class – on a plane!
Looking at local airlines, here's Philippines Airlines list of inflight entertainment. Their movies list includes family favorites (both old and new) like Kung Fu Panda 3, Hotel Transylvania 2, Big Hero 6, Penguins of Madagascar, Ice Age, Home Alone, The Lego Movie and The Ant Bully. For TV shows, they have Spongebob Squarepants, Victorious, Gameshakers and Star Wars Rebels.
5. Unlimited snacks Kids can get grumpy when they’re hungry. To nourish and keep your child happy, some airlines offer unlimited snacks and juice, as much as your child wants. JetBlue has this, as well as Qantas. Singapore Airlines and Etihad, on the other hand, have meals specially prepared for kids. Virgin Atlantic stepped up their game by going as far as hiring TV chef Loraine Pascale to create the kids' inflight meals. She has also created purees for travelling infants.
6. A golf cart to pick you up Preggy mamas, worry no more about walking what seems like the length of the runway just to board your plane. Asiana will call for a golf cart – just for you – to take you from point A to point B. How thoughtful!
7. A child-friendly lounge It’s not just onboard the aircraft that boredom strikes; it begins while you wait for your flight at the airport, especially if you’re flying international. Lounges come in handy for these, and even better when they’re kid-friendly. Emirates’ exclusive lounges have play areas, for example.
But, Qantas is really where it’s at with their Family Zones. These junior lounges are chic and colorful and are equipped with PlayStations, iMacs, children’s furniture, toys and books. Some even have refreshments. Best to drain out all that excess energy before the flight, right?