Tips for Families Flying With Children
Parents have many factors to consider when traveling on vacation with their children. One of those is managing flights with small children. Our independent travel agent has several tips for traveling with children on planes.
Here are some important tips from Travel Serendipity for flying with children. Remember you are the expert! You know your child better than anyone else. Think through what you can do to make the flight most comfortable for your child’s particular needs. You know their sleep habits; if possible, schedule the flight during your infant’s normal nap time. Always have something to help their ears during take-off and landing. (i.e. a bottle to drink for babies, gum to chew for older kids) Ask your pediatrician what would be best for your child during flight time. Bring a small bag of quiet toys, puzzles, and a small pillow or light blanket for your child. Make sure they get a full night’s rest the night before the trip. Try not to let your child get on the plane with an empty stomach. The more comfortable they are before take-off the higher your chances of them being comfortable during the flight. It is also important to discuss the trip with your child ahead of time. Let them know the fun things you plan to do when you arrive at your destination. Listen carefully for any worries your child might have about flying and address only their specific question or concern about flying in a matter of fact caring fashion. Do not offer any additional worries to them that they are not already thinking of. Highlight the fun and the positives while in route. Prepare the best you can, and then go with the flow on the plane ride. Be as calm and relaxed as you can to model to your child that all is well.
If you have a child with special needs, ask your professional travel agent to contact the airlines to find out about special services they offer to children with special needs. For instance, many airlines allow a private tour of their planes to autistic children to acquaint them with the feeling of being on an airplane weeks before the flight takes off.
There is good news for families vacationing together! In the past, airlines used to charge extra for requests of group seat selection which at times would cause some budget conscious families to be unable to take the trip at all. Now, due to a recent development in The Department of Transportation this will be less of an issue for families who want a guarantee that their children will be able to sit with them on the airplane! In an effort to make airlines’ family seating policies easier to find for travelers searching on airline websites, The Department of Transportation has released a new dashboard that does just that, makes it easier to search for the family seating policy of each airline. That in turn, has put a spotlight on the issue. You can now go to the DOT’s dashboard and get all the details.
Airlines are showing more flexibility with families than ever before. Here are some of the basic information about a few of the airlines and their family seating policies. (Provided by USA Today on March 19, 2023)
Alaska Airlines guarantees children 13 or younger will be able to sit with at least one adult in their party for no additional fee. There are certain exceptions to the policy, including if the aircraft is swapped last minute for a smaller plane, but in general, young passengers on Alaska will not have to sit alone, even if they are traveling on the cheapest ticket that does not usually include seat selection.
Allegiant Airlines does not guarantee that families will be seated together and recommends paying for seat selection at the time of booking to ensure adjacent seats.
American Airlines guarantees passengers 13 or younger will be able to sit next to an accompanying adult for no additional charge, even on basic economy tickets, which do not typically include seat assignments. Exceptions include if adjacent seats are not available at the time of booking, or if the aircraft is swapped out for a smaller one.
Avelo Airlines does not guarantee adjacent seats for families.
Breeze Airways allows families with children 12 or younger to select adjacent seats at the time of booking at no extra charge. The airline's cheapest fare bundle, Nice, does not typically include free seat selection, but it is included in the higher-tier ticket categories.
Delta Air Lines "strives to seat family members together upon request," but does not guarantee availability.
Frontier Airlines guarantees travelers 13 or younger will be able to sit next to at least one accompanying adult on any ticket type. Adjacent seats must be available at the time of booking for the guarantee to apply.
Hawaiian Airlines does not guarantee adjacent seating for families, but its website says "we'll do our best to seat children under age 14 with an accompanying family member."
JetBlue does not guarantee seats together for families, but its website says the airline strives to keep children and their guardians together on board as much as possible.
Southwest Airlines does not assign seats in advance, but it did recently introduce family boarding for groups with children under age 6. Family boarding on Southwest happens after group A, which is the first main segment to board. With open seating, families flying on Southwest are typically free to choose seats near each other.
Spirit Airlines typically charges for seat selection and does not guarantee adjacent seats for those who do not pay the extra fee. "If guests with children aged 13 and under do not opt to pre-select seats at the time of booking, our gate agents and flight attendants will work to provide adjacent seats when possible," the airline's website says.
Sun Country Airlines typically charges for seat selection and does not guarantee adjacent seats for families that choose not to pay the extra fee. "If you are traveling with children and choose not to select seats in advance, we will do our very best to ensure children are seated with at least one adult on the reservation," its website says.
United Airlines is employing new technology to allow travelers under the age of 12 to be seated near an adult traveling companion for free, even on basic economy tickets. The policy also allows customers who are unable to sit with their kids on a flight to change to a flight with available adjacent seating for free.
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