Which is the Best Airline for Kids?
It's hard to say which is the best airline for kids, and I think it's also a bit redundant to find out because no one singular airline is going to fly everywhere. It's therefore a lot more useful to know which airlines are the most family-friendly so when it comes to booking your next trip you will know which airlines are great for kids and which airlines to possibly avoid.
All of the below stories are real tried and tested reviews of great airlines for kids and real journeys. They come from travellers of all backgrounds, geographical locations and budgets, and their kids, at the time of flying, were all sorts of different ages from newborn babies to teens. As much as possible I wanted to feature reviews of airlines where families had young children (so aged 4 and under) but of course, we don't stop travelling with kids after that age so knowing the best airlines for kids of all ages is also going to be useful.
The following reviews of over 25 of the best airlines for flying with kids are real and honest reviews from travellers that regularly fly with children of various ages so they will know what makes an airline offer a family-friendly service. Their reviews will tell you where they flew, how long the flight was, how old their kids were and what was so special about the family-friendly airline. In this list you'll find airlines from all over the world offering different levels of service so there is something for all kinds of family travellers from budget to luxury. Be sure to search the page for an airline you are thinking of flying with or for name of the one you think is the best airline for kids!
TOP TIP: When searching for flights, in order to get the best price I nearly always use Skyscanner but ALWAYS in an incognito window (and often with cookies cleared!) so it doesn't remember I've been looking for a certain flight or certain dates and so won't alter the prices accordingly.
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links to products, places and airlines this post recommends for you and your family. I make a small commission off any purchases made but they don't cost you anything extra, and often I do a lot of research to find you the best possible deal in the link - yay!
The Best Airlines for Flying with Kids in Europe
As you may or may not know, I am based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and have family all over the world, but predominantly in Europe, so it was important for me to have a lot of European airlines in this list of the best airlines for kids and family travel. My contributions are included in the reviews below and this list includes budget carriers, national airlines and airlines that also fly long-haul as well as short-haul.
Aer Lingus by Marta from Learning Escapes
An airline we use often as a family and we have always found excellent in terms of service and welcome is Aer Lingus. The first time we flew with them was several years ago, when our son was only six weeks old, but since then, we have flown on Aer Lingus with kids very many times, actually several times a year.
The longest flight we took with them was a direct long haul from Dublin to Los Angeles. Aer Lingus is not a luxury airline however, we always found the travel experience with them to be of high standard and their attention to families excellent. This applies to specific services on offer but even more to the overall attitude of the crew, which is supportive and switched on to the needs of families.
The best example I can recall was probably from our first long haul flight with them: we had two children under 5 and we had made the rookie mistake of not pre-booking seats, which meant on the day we found ourselves scattered around the plane. The crew was of great support: as soon as the problem was spotted, they took charge of finding a solution, spoke with other passengers and made sure everyone was happy, taking all the anxiety away from a stressful and potentially unpleasant situation.
In terms of actual services, families with young kids get priority boarding and the planes are equipped with infant seat belts, children snacks and meals as well as changing facilities and bassinets on request. Long-haul Aer Lingus flights have a good selection of children entertainment options (included) ranging from games to TV programmes and movies and children get half price seats and checked in luggage too.
Air France by Nassie from Snippets of Paris
Being a multi-national family (French and Canadian), we fly back and forth from Paris to Toronto at least once a year. Add a couple of toddlers under three into the mix, and that 8-hour flight seems like an eternity. And while all airlines might seem equal, when you do the same trip often, you start to have a favorite. The clear winner for me, for this yearly round-trip across the Atlantic, is Air France.
The service is more, well, French. I think my kids are always quite impressed when they are greeted directly by the flight attendant. They are treated like people and not just children. And they are even more impressed when the food comes out, and they have proper metal cutlery, and a proper starter, main and dessert, as we are used to eating in France. (By contrast, some North American airlines, will barely give you a sandwich these days!)
I like that the food as well, seems more simple and fresh, rather than industrial. With a starter like a lentil salad, and main such as grilled chicken, my kids are ready to dig in without a fuss. It looks like food, and not “weird”, as my daughter would say! For the adults as well, it is nice to feel like we’re at a proper restaurant. There is an apéritif (mixed drink) and snack while everyone is still setting in, and later a choice of red or white wine with the meal. Let’s face it, many of us need alcohol when flying with small children! So absolutely, I would recommend flying with Air France with kids.
Air France by Divine from Live and Earn Canada
Alitalia by Harmony from Momma to Go
Last week my family of four flew from New York, JFK to Milan, Malpensa on Alitalia airlines. For my kids age 8 and 10, this was their first trip to Europe and longest flight to date, so I was a little nervous about how it was going to go, and how this flight would set the tone for our week-long trip to Italy. Alitalia is an Italy based airline with service in over 50 countries around the world. They are a part of the SkyTeam alliance and we booked this flight through Delta.
Three things really made Alitalia a great choice for traveling families. First, the boarding process was very smooth. At the gate at JFK, there were dedicated lines to board, separated by row. They boarded from the back of the plane to the front, which in my opinion makes things run smoother! I have been on flights to Europe which were a big cattle call of people pushing and shoving their way onto the plane – I even prepared my children for this, but boarding was seamless and easy.
Once we boarded, I was SUPER IMPRESSED (and a little jealous) of the children’s amenity kit my kids both received. The pouch itself was beyond cute (and we can now re-use it as a pencil case at home) was filled with a sleeping mask (with cute Italian phrases on both sides); a pair of comfy, grippy sleeping socks; a little toothbrush and mini-toothpaste; headphones; and a little coloring book with colored pencils.
Lastly, kid’s meals were available on Alitalia – just be sure to pre-order 72 hours in advance of travel. My kids enjoyed the juice boxes and snacks they received. The main meal on the kid’s plate was mac and cheese with turkey meatballs. When your family looks to book your next Italy vacation, if your flight is operated by Alitalia, don’t stress, you will be in good hands!
British Airways by Sophie Marie from Lifestyle Queensland
I live in Australia with my two kids but originally I'm from the UK and making the big trip home is something I both look forward to and dread at the same time! We've tried tons of different airlines and the one we love the most has to be British Airways.
There is one main reason I will always try to fly with them from now and that's their infant seats! It's great that airlines let under 2 year old fly free but, on long hauls, once they get towards that 1 year mark they are generally too big to use the bassinets. With most airlines this means having a 1 year old on your lap for the entire flight. NOT with British Airways - they have a special infant seat that goes in the same spot the bassinet would and reclines too. My daughter got a solid nine hours sleep thanks to that chair and I could rest too!
Even better, they also have amazing customer service and were incredibly friendly and helpful with my kids. They brought activity packs and always offered to help me with bags and watch the infant when she was sleeping and I needed to pop to the toilet. I could not recommend them enough if you're flying long haul with young kids.
Follow Sophie and her family's life in Australia on Facebook.
We flew for the first time with Easyjet at the very start of our year long family round the world trip. We flew from Manchester, U.K to Reykjavik in Iceland. Our children were aged 11, 9 and 6 years old at the time. We initially chose Easyjet due to the very low cost of the term time flight and because we wanted to fly at night hopefully giving us the chance to see the Northern Lights during the flight. We were very fortunate and had a great display of the lights from the comfort our our window seat!
We were so impressed with Easyjet that we have flown with them several times since Iceland. Easyjet have always made us feel welcome, not like sheep being herded into a pen. We have never experienced a delay, rude staff and though we do not reserve seats we have always been seated together. Plus, the cabin luggage permitted is more generous in size than other budget airlines which is important to our hand luggage only family.
We recently needed to cancel an Easyjet flight to Morocco and discovered that, for a relatively small administration fee, Easyjet permit you to change not only your travel dates but also your destination. We did not, as expected, lose our money having to cancel our flight; instead we paid a little extra and ended up travelling two months later to Madeira. This flexibility is a huge bonus for travelling families and one of the reasons we will continue to fly with Easyjet.
Iceland Air by Katie from Green Active Family
For our daughter's second-ever flight at 4-months-old, we fly Iceland Air from Europe to Iceland and on to Canada, and return. She's since been on 20 odd flights. However, our experience flying Iceland Air with a young baby stands out to us as parents, because it was hands-down our best experience.
To start with, Iceland Air has affordable prices for the "extra legroom" seats near the front of the plane. We upgraded our seats for US $60, which is a lot less than many North American and European legacy carriers which charge into the hundreds for extra legroom. When our daughter got fussy over Greenland, I was able to put her in our baby carrier and bounce her to sleep, all while standing at our seat. This was great, as I didn't have to worry about inconveniencing other passengers or the flight attendants while bouncing her in the aisle.
The flight attendants also went out of their way to give us extra space on the flight so our daughter would be as comfortable as possible. We sat in a 3-wide bank of seats, but during boarding it became clear the plane wasn't full, and the flight attendants re-seated another passengers so we had an extra seat in our row for our baby's gear, blankets, etc. This meant she could stretch out and practice sitting and standing on the extra seat when she got restless. As parents, we worried less when she threw her toys and books around (which she did a lot!). Finally, our daughter was entitled to a small checked bag, something we haven't experienced on other airlines for "infant in lap" tickets.
On our return journey, we used this extra baggage to carry back all the Christmas gifts our daughter received for her first Christmas, plus her travel crib, which we picked up while in Canada. We've since flown with our daughter on legacy US carriers between North America and Europe - and we've lamented how we should have gone with Iceland Air again. Next time we need to go home, we'll be choosing Iceland Air.
Follow Green Active Family on Facebook. (Photo by Frankie Thompson)
Lufthansa by LeAnna from Economical Excursionist
Since we like to travel hack extensively, that means we've built up a stash of United points, which in turn means we can book flights with these points with Lufthansa, who is in the Star Alliance with United! We've always loved flying Lufthansa over some of America's airlines anyway, but when we had kids, it only confirmed it!
As we checked in, we were reminded that we were invited to use the family pre-boarding, which is such a help when trying to get everyone situated! This was just the first of many instances where I truly appreciated the friendliness of the flight attendants, they really are exceptionally nice! As we were getting settled, another attendant approached us with a goodie bag for each of the boys! Inside were little toys, coloring books, and busy work. Even though I had my own stash, things like this are always appreciated when flying with toddlers!! (Anything to keep them busy for even 2 minutes is a plus!)
The final touch for Lufthansa with kids is their meals. Now, I actually think thank Lufthansa has great (for airline standards) meals to begin with. My kids will typically eat those anyway. However, we decided to go ahead with the kids meal option (this time was chicken fingers, mac and cheese, fruits, veggies, bread, AND jello! - That's a ton of food!) and both boys devoured their plates! Flying with kids can be tough, but flying with Lufthansa made things just a tad more bearable!
FRANKIE TOP TIP: We have also loved flying with Lufthansa with kids and they also offer free ski and snowboard bag baggage allowance on their winter sports flights! We also had a special "kids check-in" desk for our return flight from Munich to Amsterdam.
Norwegian Air by Hannah from Adventure Travel Family
Ryanair by Ana from Merry-Go-Round. Slowly
I have been flying with this airline for at least a couple of times a year for over 10 years now. I’ve started as a poor student, and Ryanair allowed me to go to places I would otherwise have saved for years. I have continued as an underpaid young professional with a boyfriend in another country, and I’m saying it is thanks to Ryanair our relationship survived while moving wherever a new job assignment would take us. And now a mother of two kids, I remain a loyal Ryanair customer and rarely take my kids on another airline.
My son Mark has been flying Ryanair since he was 3.5-months-old. He was born in the middle of winter, and by the time he was 3 months, I’ve realised I couldn’t take it anymore. Baby blues, lack of sleep, grey skies and snow in the middle of March. I had to go suffer somewhere else, but the money was tight. Ryanair to the rescue. A quick look at the destinations map from Vilnius airport, some 15 minutes check of prices for all the southern-most points, and voila – just two weeks later here we are flying to Chania, Crete for 125 euro for a round trip for a family of three. And this was just the beginning.
Maternity leave in Lithuania is rather long, and almost unpaid, meaning I had time and very little money for my travels. But in just a couple of years, we went to Greece, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Spain and at least 4 times to London (because London with toddlers is fun!). Here are some of the tips for parents flying with Ryanair. Seating: On Ryanair (as on most of the European flights) your child under 2 years old will not have a seat and will sit on you. So your child doesn’t care about seat comfort, as you will be her comfy chair for the duration of the flight.
Luggage: You have to pay to check in your luggage, but the usual allowance of 2 baby items (for example, a car seat + a buggy) are free of charge.
Snacks: Babies don’t need them, and toddlers can be very picky. Prepare to breast-/formula-feed your baby, pack some snacks for a toddler and a sandwich for yourself. The longest Ryanair flight is just 4 hours – sure people can survive that without complaining about the lack of food.
Service:Honestly, I have never experienced any less friendliness from Ryanair crew compared to other airlines – and I do fly a lot with many others too. Entertaining your baby on board: Really, for me, the best baby on the plane is a sleeping baby, so I try to make them tired enough for the departure. And if you succeed, you will fly in peace and quiet often for a fraction of the cost you would pay for the same route to another airline.
Airports: Keep in mind that to keep the costs low, Ryanair would often fly to smaller airports far away from big tourists’ attractions – which I find great for families with small children. For example, we flew to Bergamo in Italy instead of Milan, avoided all the rush of the big city and went straight to Lake Iseo. Win-win!
Transavia by me!
After KLM and FlyBe, Transavia is the airline we have done the most short-haul flights with. As KLM's budget airline they offer more affordable air fares to a wide variety of European and North African holiday and city destinations. We flew with them both times we went to the luxurious Sani resort near Thessaloniki as well as on our family holiday to Ibiza last year. They were also the first airline we flew with as a family of four!
As with all budget airlines, you can expect all the usual no-frills approach to service; you have to pay for refreshments, you pay extra for extra baggage, and there is no in-flight entertainment. These are things that are worth thinking about when you are flying with kids because lots of luggage, lots of food, and a screen are basically your three best weapons for keeping kids quiet on a flight. However, you can of course prepare for the absence of these things! You can easily pack a ton of snacks for your kids (and you!) and with Transavia you may get given a cuddly toy or kids fun pack once seated on your plane.
What I like about flying with Transavia is that you get a bright and clean plane (most of the time!) that is staffed with attendants that offer close to the good service you expect from KLM. Our kid has also been offered the chance to see inside the cockpit on more than a few Transavia flights, and we have never had any problems in terms of severe delays, missing bags, or poor customer service.
Turkish Airways by Sakshi from Triple A Mommy
We flew Turkish Airlines long-haul from New Delhi to San Francisco with a stop over at Istanbul. This was the first time I was flying with infant twins and my 7 year old and also the first time my mum was taking such a long flight! And in economy! I was worried!
But I need not have been. Both the legs were very comfortable with enough leg space. The baby bassinets were a good size and the twins slept comfortably in the little blankets provided by the airline. The inside temperature was perfect. The airline also gave us travel kits for the infants that had wipes, nappy rash cream, a disposable bib, changing mat and moisturiser. I thought that was really nice and useful.
The staff was nice and helped us with hot water for making milk and washing the bottles as well. My older one was very happy with the selection of movies he got on the plane and kept himself busy throughout. His travel kit contained a small toy and games which kept him happy. He was especially excited with the chocolate milk he received with his meals!
My mum, husband and I also enjoyed the flight with good meals including the special Asian vegetarian meals we had requested. Our first flight ever with our babies went much better than our expectations and we have Turkish Airways to thank for it.
The Best Airlines for Kids in the Americas
Airlines in North and South America are very competitive and with families spread all over the continent they know that if they make families happy there is a good chance they will keep customers for life. Below you'll read real reviews of the best airlines for kids and family travel in Canada, USA and South America.
Alaska Airlines by Shalini from Eager2Travel
On my recent trip to Austin with my cousins, we choose to fly with Alaska Airlines. We were flying from Denver and we had a layover at Seattle of 7 hours. My cousins are 5 and 7 years old. Travelling with them is an absolute nightmare, they are not just naughty but borderline crazy. They fight over just anything and keeping them busy in an aeroplane is a pretty difficult task. I was not at all looking forward to our journey through the flight.
But surprisingly everything went fine. Alaska Airlines were great. From entering the plane itself, the air hostess was helpful in putting all the luggage in the overhead bin. As half of the seats were empty they allowed my cousins to switch places and get a window seat. A window seat is very helpful when travelling with kids, you can talk to them and give them a lot of cool ideas to wander about.
While explaining the rules, they also explained to my aunt how she should take care of the kids, keep them seated and feed them something during the flight so that while chewing their ears won't hurt. They also made sure they were properly buckled. They had comfortable seats with proper legroom. They also gave us warm water when we asked for it. The customer service was great and we had a good journey while in air.
Air Canada by Lindsay from Step into Jordan
Air Canada is my go-to airline when I am leaving Canada with my kids. Being Vancouver-based, we do have European carrier options to fly overseas, but Air Canada has always been extremely family-friendly and have given me no reason to choose another airline!
One of the first things that I like about Air Canada is their free seat selection for families. When you book, if the seat selection is not free, just give them a call and they will allocate seats for your family. Even if you do not call, they allocate seats within 48 hours and if you log back into your booking, you will see seats selected.
Air Canada also offers a backpack with kid-friendly items for your flight. The best thing inside, is headphones! Since they offer earbuds for passengers on their overseas flights they recognized that most earbuds do not fit kids. They offer over-the-ear headphones for kids, which makes using the seat-back entertainment much more enjoyable (for kids and parents).
Their kid’s meals are often mac and cheese or chicken nuggets, which works for my kids, and I have always found their staff to be friendly towards children! Usually I fly Air Canada from Vancouver to London Heathrow, before connecting to Jordan. But I have also flown from Toronto to Vienna and Tel Aviv to Toronto. We use them whenever we can!
Delta by Mary Beth Charles from MB Sees
We’ve all had our customer service horror stories, right? I’m no exception. But I’ve come to realize that one bad encounter with a single employee doesn’t necessarily mean the whole company sucks. Such is the case with Delta, who — after a bad experience years ago — totally redeemed themselves when I flew with my baby for the first time!
One, they still let families with young kids do early boarding. I was so stoked, I remember saying to my husband, “If I’d known this, we’d have had a kid years ago!” Jack was 9 months old at the time, and it really alleviated some of the stress to be able to have a few extra minutes to get settled without crowds in the aisle. I remember early boarding for families being a thing in my childhood, but I’ve since discovered that not all airlines still have that policy.
Two, when our wing-checked stroller broke in transit, it took a single phone call to get the issue resolved (we’d already left the airport before we discovered the wheel had gotten bent). Our afternoon flight from Virginia to Missouri was supposed to be quick and easy, but bad weather made for a rough landing that caused several items of luggage to topple onto the stroller.
My instructions from the airline representative were to send a quick email with a couple photos of the damage. I got an immediate reply back that a check for the replacement cost was in the mail. We bought a new stroller, and cashed the check a couple days later! I was pleasantly surprised, and now highly recommend Delta for families, especially those flying with babies.
Hawaiian Airlines by Clara from Petite Capsule
Hawaiian Airlines is one of the best airlines for family travel. We flew with them from Sydney to Honolulu return with my 1.5 year old as a lap child; an overnight flight there, and a day flight on return. It was a 10.5 hour flight. We purchased Extra Comfort seats, which is like premium economy, for the extra legroom. It was very roomy and allowed my active toddler to move between seats easily and have space to play on the floor.
Other benefits of Extra Comfort seats included early boarding. But because we were travelling with a child under 2 years old, we were able to board before Extra Comfort seat tickets. Another advantage is we received priority screening in Honolulu, personal power outlets at our seats, and a toiletries kit on board. The toiletries kit was like a little toy bag for my toddler.
The Hawaiian Airlines staff were friendly. Hawaiian Airlines does not provide a meal for a lap child. However, when I asked if my toddler would be able to have one, the flight attendant checked for a spare meal and brought out a warm one. Since we had a lap child, we received complimentary baggage allowance for a stroller and a car seat.
One thing that surprised me was Hawaiian Airlines does not provide an infant seat belt for a lap child. Though the benefit of this was my toddler could sit on my lap in the most comfortable position without restriction. We had a great experience flying with Hawaiian Airlines and would fly with them again.
LATAM Airlines by Alex from Get Out with Kids
In October 2019 we flew with LATAM Airlines from Lima, Peru to Los Angeles, USA. We had never flown with them before, so were a little uncertain of what to expect. Lima airport is really quite big and super busy each time we have ever been there, but LATAM offers online check-in prior to arriving at the airport and this certainly makes it easier when hauling luggage and kids! Once we had dropped our checked bags and were through airport security, we relaxed at the gate and were pleased that LATAM has a good record for on-time departures.
Once aboard, we settled in our seats and one of the cabin crew came over to Master 12 and handed him a kids’ pack that contained colouring pencils and pictures. They also have a great selection of inflight entertainment to choose from - movies, TV shows news and music as well as special programming for kids. My son downloaded the LATAM app to check out the selection ahead of our flight and had his viewing for our 9 hour flight all sorted before we even boarded.
Although we didn’t need it, they also offer comfort items for younger children on board LATAM flights (such as a BedBox, inflatable pillows, Flyaway, etc). Installing these items in front of the seat creates a bed for the child. It’s worth investigating for long haul flights! It is also worth noting if you’re traveling with a baby in your lap and sharing your seat, you can travel with an extra personal item (in addition to the one included in the ticket you purchased) for free, such as a purse, backpack or bag sized no more than 45 x 35 x 20 cm (height, length, width). You can also travel with a folding stroller or a child restraint device, such as a certified seat, booster seat, or other.
Southwest Airlines by Christina from Live a Wilder Life
West Jet by Diane from Diane Alkier
Growing up, my family would only fly standby. My dad was an airplane mechanic who received flight benefits. And even though this allowed us to travel to Hawaii every few years, our family vacations were never guaranteed. We would show up at the airport, not knowing if we would get on the flight or not. We always had to be dressed up and be on our absolute best behavior. No goofing off allowed.
Now, as a mom of two small children, I can truly appreciate all the little extras that airlines offer that we never got to experience growing up. For our yearly trip from Calgary, Alberta to Palm Desert, California, we choose Westjet every time. And here’s why:
Westjetters (the name Westjet calls their employees) are so friendly. I haven’t come across a Westjetter that didn’t love their job. From the ticket agents to the flight attendants, we have always felt well taken care of.
You gotta love WestJet’s priority boarding for those with young kids. This makes getting on the plane so much easier. And it gives you the time and space to fold up your stroller.
Westjet has a generous luggage policy. You get two baby items: a stroller, a playpen, or a car seat with no extra charge.
At least one washroom on every plane has a changing table.
If you are flying on their 787 Dreamliner in the Economy cabin, you can request a bassinet for infants under 25lbs, who is unable to sit upright unassisted.
Generally, we find that Westjet has better flight times for kids than other airlines in Canada. Since Westjet head office is in Calgary, AB, where we live, we have access to more direct flights across Canada and the USA.
Finally, you know that Westjet is a family-friendly airline when their infant policies include the following: “WestJet recognizes the likelihood of your lap-held infant playing peek-a-boo with other guests as being pretty much 100%, and generally fun for everyone involved.” You got to love that!
Virgin Atlantic by Elaine from Show Them the Globe
Virgin Atlantic is one of our favourite airlines for flying with kids. Our baby, J, first flew from London to NYC with Virgin Atlantic at 7 months old and he has been back on board a few times since. One of the biggest benefits of flying Virgin Atlantic with a baby is that a seat can be purchased at a 25% discount on many routes. It’s also possible to avoid paying extra for advance seat selection if you are flexible - Virgin Atlantic guarantee that each child under 12 will be seated with at least one of the adults in the booking – perfect if you don’t mind sitting separately from a partner.
On board, Virgin provide great bassinets and certified car seats are permitted in the economy and premium economy cabins when a seat is purchased. When J was a baby, we were offered Ella’s Kitchen organic food pouches although we’d always recommend bringing your own supply as well. He’s now a big fan of the children’s pasta meals on board, just make sure to pre-order a kids meal at least 24 hours in advance of flying.
Virgin Atlantic also offers generous baggage allowances for infants. On most routes they are allowed one 6kg cabin bag and a 23kg checked bag as well as a fully collapsible pushchair and a car seat in addition.
The Best Airlines for Kids in Asia Pacific
When it comes to flying long-haul, not many airlines do as many of the most epic long-haul flights than those based in Asia, Australasia and the Pacific region. It's important, therefore, that these airlines come up with the goods when it comes to flying families across to the other side of the world so here are our real life reviews by travellers with their suggestions for the winner of best airline for kids.
Air New Zealand by Emma from Our Spanish Life
Air New Zealand is the best airline we’ve flown with kids for a lot of reasons. We fly with them frequently and have done since our eldest was 4 months old. Their customer service is excellent with the flight attendants always willing to help when you need someone to hold the baby, warm up baby food or just provide a bit of distraction.
The in-flight entertainment system is top-notch with recent movie releases and a dedicated kids channel providing age-appropriate music, movies and games for kids. On a recent trip from Auckland to Los Angeles, we were delighted to experience the legendary Skycouch. The Skycouch is basically an extension of the seats in front, with a padded platform folding up to create a lie-flat couch.
As we were doing an overnight flight with a 1 and 4-year-old, we were naturally apprehensive of them sleeping on the flight. We needn’t have worried, with the Skycouch they were both able to sleep lying down flat. The special seat belts provided meant we didn’t need to wake them during turbulence so they truly had a great night's sleep.
There is an extra fee for the Skycouch, but it is not a huge cost compared to the value you get from a restful flight with kids. My husband and I were even able to watch movies at the same time which hasn’t happened since we became parents. We always choose Air New Zealand for long haul travel with kids because we can rely on them getting a decent sleep which makes travelling with them much easier.
ANA (All Nippon Airways) by Dani from Diapers in Paradise
We were so lucky that our very first flight with a baby was with ANA. It helped us realize that traveling with a baby is nothing to fear! We flew ANA when our daughter was 4 months old for a 3-week adventure exploring Thailand with a baby.
The long-haul flight portions were Seattle to Tokyo and back, between 10 and 11 hours each way. Against every expectation, we came away from that trip saying that it had been our best flight experience to date. What made it so special? For one thing, this was our first introduction to the bassinet seat – an absolute lifesaver. But as we’ve since learned, not all airlines are as accommodating with the bassinet as ANA was.
We were guaranteed the seat when we called (rather than the more common “if it’s available on the day of the flight” bit), and we were able to use it in the way that was most comfortable for the baby, meaning that during cruising, she did not have to be strapped in and was able to sit up in the bassinet and play. The flight attendants were sweet and accommodating as well, offering to heat milk, providing extra water while I was nursing, and generally just going above and beyond to make sure that we had everything we needed.
There was no point in the entire process with ANA that we wished they would do something different or more for us. And how often can you say that about an airline?! We received fantastic service from start to finish.
Qantas by Holly from Four Around The World
Qantas is one of our favourite airlines for travelling with kids. As Australians, we have flown with them many times over the years and to many different destinations. This has included long haul flights from Brisbane to Los Angeles and Brisbane to Singapore with kids.
The thing that stands out most with Qantas is the fact they run such a tight ship. We have never experienced delays or any issues with our Qantas flights and while these things do happen, there do seem to be fewer disruptions than some airlines. The other thing we love is how friendly their staff are. And this is extra special when kids are involved, having staff that go out of their way to ensure the kids are feeling safe and happy.
Our long-haul Qantas experiences were with a 1-year-old the first time, which meant we were provided with a bassinet for extra comfort. More recently, our children were 3 and 5. We have also flown domestically within Australia as well and while they aren't usually the cheapest option, they are a favourite. Qantas provides all the extras that you do not get with budget airlines - checked baggage, meals and entertainment are standard inclusions. They also provide a toy or activity pack for children. Their planes are well maintained and service is excellent.
Malaysia Airlines by Kirsty from World for a Girl
As Brits living in Malaysia, we regularly fly between London and Kuala Lumpur with our two children who are both under-five. Only two airlines fly this route direct and our favourite one by far is Malaysia Airlines. Malaysia Airlines is the main long distance carrier in Malaysia. It flies non-stop to more than 50 domestic and international destinations.
Malaysia Airlines’ long-distance routes include cities in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Middle East. Malaysia Airlines may have had some bad publicity in the last five years and it's understandable people remember this. These tragedies may have kept prices down but they certainly have not affected service or safety standards. The cabin crew have always been welcoming, friendly and very accommodating towards us and our young children.
The food is always good and the children enjoy their kids’ meals. The activity packs are great and the mini jigsaws puzzles were a surprise hit with our son.The entertainment system had a wide range of child-family movies and cartoons. So many that our son didn’t sleep during the whole 14 hour flight! We’ve never had a problem travelling with numerous child car seats and a stroller.
They also allow families with young children priority boarding at the gates although we prefer not to use it. Instead, we give our children extra time to move around before boarding. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Malaysia Airlines to other families travelling to and from Kuala Lumpur with toddlers and young children.
Scoot Airlines by Elaine & Dave from The Whole World is a Playground
Scoot Airlines is based out of Singapore and operates primarily in South-East Asia. We flew with Scoot a number of times in Asia with our main flights being from Tokyo to Taipei and Taipei to Seoul in Korea and had very good experiences with them. Despite being a low-cost carrier there is little price difference between the Scoot economy and business class tickets once you factor in baggage costs.
As we were flying with our 10-month-old we had lots of baggage so we chose to fly with ScootBiz, the carriers business class option. We booked our tickets well in advance so the business class tickets were only slightly more expensive than economy. It’s worth noting that there is a small fixed charge for lap infant. Our check-in was at a dedicated ScootBiz desk and our boarding was smooth with our toddler. Although there are no bassinets on Scoot planes, the business class seats had ample space and our toddler napped comfortably for most of the flights.
The leather seats are very comfortable and with 38 inches of legroom it was great to let our toddler wander around at our feet. A major benefit of Scoot is that they allow lightweight strollers on board (once they are contained in a protective bag) which meant we had a stroller immediately on landing which is a big bonus when flying with young kids.
Singapore Airlines by me!
When my son was aged between 18 months and 2.5 we did three long-haul trips in one year. Two to Thailand and Singapore, and one to the Maldives as a toddler. When it came to flying to Singapore (our stop on the way to Thailand) there was only ever going to be one airline we flew with; Singapore Airlines. Long before we had children we loved flying with Singapore Airlines thanks to its excellent service in economy (real cutlery, people!!!) and lots of comfort. We also happen to be big fans of Changi Airport, but enough about our aviation obsessions, let's talk about why Singapore is also one of the best airlines to fly with when you have kids.
The main reason is that the service on any and all Singapore Airlines flights is exceptional whether you're flying with or without kids. When our son was still drinking milk from a bottle they couldn't have been more accommodating in assisting in preparing the milk, and once he was on cow's milk they would also provide that. While the airlines doesn't have the most space in economy, it's still very comfortable and thanks to being permitted to use the JetKids BedBox we had enough space for that gruelling 13 hour flight.
You'll often find people talking about how well trained Singapore Airlines staff are and it really does show when you have a child as they make a fuss of kids without going over the top, and if you do need something, they are quick to respond and assist. We also found that at Changi, they will usually get your buggy out for you to pick up immediately at the exit from the plane and into the terminal, which is a huge help if you have to rush to meet a connection or you have a long walk ahead of you to baggage.
One thing well worth knowing about Singapore Airlines is that on certain planes that have less seats so you have a more spacious feel to their economy cabins. Also, Singapore seem to have a never ending supply of snacks (including healthier options as well as chocolate bars and crisps!) - important for adults and children alike!
We flew to or through Bangkok with kids several times and every time we could, we chose Thai Airlines. This was for various reasons but most importantly because they were so good and helpful with kids. This was important for me as usually I was on my own with twins.
We flew with Thai Airlines several times on long and short haul flights. Our typical route was 7 hours between Muscat and Bangkok, connecting with shorter flights in Thailand and the Far East. My twins at that time were from 4 to 7 years old. What made the trip with Thai airlines so pleasurable? Everything, Starting from buying the ticket online with options for gluten and/or dairy-free meals.
Having kids we were boarded first, and immediately after boarding the kids were given toys and crayons by the flight attendants. When meals were served, since we had ordered gluten free, we were served first. This allowed me to feed the girls and then put them to sleep earlier, when some other passengers were still waiting for their food. On all flights including the shorter or day flights, there are in flight entertainments which my kids loved.
The Best Airlines for Kids in Middle East & Africa
Some of the world's best airlines are based in this part of the world, but how do they stand up when flying families with young children to their chosen destination? According to the real reviews below, very well so do make note of these best airlines for kids based in the Middle East and Africa.
Emirates by Ollie from Ollie and the Captain
I am one of four siblings and I know first hand how difficult it can be for parents to wrangle a van load of luggage and kids onto a plane on time. The whole process of flying is usually a bit of a chore, but if you select your airline wisely, you can make this experience a joy. We would often take the flight from Cape Town, South Africa to London or the Maldives to meet up with family and friends and we have found that the airline that makes it easiest for us is Emirates. In about 10 years of flying with Emirates, we have only had to wait at the baggage check in counter for a maximum of 20 minutes in Cape Town which makes things so much easier.
There’s nothing worse than 4 bored children wreaking havoc in an international airport whilst waiting in line for 2 hours to check in. Once no the plane, Emirates always has some of the most modern seats that come with USB chargers and controllers. The in-flight entertainment is second to none too and can keep children preoccupied for hours playing arcade games and watching movies and series.
My favourite part of flying with Emirates is that when kids (and adults sometimes) tell the Emirates staff that it is their first time flying, they bring out a polaroid camera to capture the memory. The only thing better than flying Emirates, is being lucky enough to be bumped up to business class with Emirates like we were (shameless brag) on our most recent trip the Gili Islands, Bali/Lombok.
Ethiopian Airlines by Dave from Your Ireland Vacation
Our baby took his first ever flight with Ethiopian Airlines when, at just 8 weeks old, he flew from Dublin to Cape Town for the Christmas holidays. Having spent over 24 hours in the air with Ethiopian Airlines we find them a great option for flying with kids. Ethiopian Airlines offer bassinets on many of its aircraft and we were able to secure bassinet row seats on all 4 of flights at the time of booking.
The bassinet seats were spacious and didn’t cost anything extra. It was also great knowing that we had somewhere for our infant to rest during the flights. Many passengers use the Ethiopian Airlines base at Addis Ababa to transfer to a connecting flight and the small size of the airport makes it a great option for connections. However, the airport’s limited facilities mean that you may want to avoid a lengthy connection.
A great perk of Ethiopian is the opportunities to upgrade and there are both pre-flight bids and check-in upgrades when availability allows. Another of our favorite things about flying Ethiopian Airlines was the staff. They were so lovely to all the passengers and especially the smallest flyers. Every crew member had a smile and a kind word as they passed by our baby and offered help wherever they could.
Etihad by Sharon from Dive into Malaysia
When my youngest son was four months old, I travelled with him alone between Thailand and Oman flying Etihad business class. This turned out to be the perfect choice! From the moment I approached the check-in desk at Phuket Airport, I was looked after and did not line up for anything at all in my two flights in each direction. They called someone over to assist us through immigration and security who helped me handle my baby as well. It was so easy!
On boarding, a flight attendant walked me to my seat and put my bag in the overhead locker for me and helped me untangle myself from my baby carrier. Not long after, the in-flight nanny came and talked to me. Throughout the flights, they were very attentive and anticipated what help I needed with my baby without even asking. I had a bassinet seat which was handy. There was a fair bit of turbulence and my attendant was fantastic. She would help me move him back and forth to my lap and would find out when the seat belt sign would go back off how long it was likely to be before it was back on again so I could decide if it was worth it to move him again.
During my wait in Abu Dhabi, I had access to their lounge which has an unreal kids room complete with nannies. They insisted they looked after my baby while I went to the toilet, got some food and a drink. I have never had flights so easy with kids (and we take a zillion of them) and I highly recommend Etihad business particularly when you need some extra help when travelling alone with young kids.
Frances M. Thompson
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