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The Most Child-Friendly Airlines Revealed

British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Qantas offer the most perks for children

Child and mother at airport

The summer holidays have begun and many families are preparing for their long-awaited summer holidays with their kids. In fact, searches for ‘child-friendly airlines’ have increased by +1,400% over the past 12 months!1

But what regulations do airlines have in place regarding taking a pram on board or a free seat for children?

Life insurance broker, Reassured has taken a closer look at 24 airlines departing from UK airports to compare what they’re offering to travelling parents and their kids. On top of that, they also spoke to childcare experts to provide 10 tips on making flying more relaxed for families with children, for those jetting off this year.

British Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates are among the top child-friendly airlines

The below table showcases how different airlines compare against one another in terms of child-friendliness:

RankAirlineFree seat reservation?Free checked luggage?Priority/Pre-boarding for families?Kids meals?Child-specific entertainment?Bringing carry cot for free?Bringing a pushchair for free?
1British AirwaysYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
1Qatar AirwaysYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
2Virgin AtlanticYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
2Singapore AirlinesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
2Etihad AirlinesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
2Aer LingusNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
2Turkish AirlinesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
2Japan AirlinesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
3United AirlinesYesNoYesYesYesNoYes
3Air FranceNoYesYesYesYesNoYes
3Delta AirlinesNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
4Air TransatNoYesYesNoYesNoYes
4Thai AirwaysNoYesNoYesYesNoYes
4Air CanadaNoNoYesYesYesNoYes
4American AirlinesNoNoYesYesYesNoYes
4Tui AirwaysNoNoYesNoYesYesYes

Taking the top spots is British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Qantas as they each offer the most perks for children.

Out of each airline analyzed, all 24 allow for a pushchair to be taken on board for free. However, 18 airlines charge extra for a child’s seat and among those are Etihad Airlines, Lufthansa and Jet2.

Most of the airlines offer kids’ entertainment such as appropriate movies or coloring pens and paper. However, parents flying with Flybe, Jet2 or Ryan Air are in for a disappointment, as no entertainment is offered for the little ones. Instead, Ryanair and Jet2 make some points up by offering free kids’ meals.

In light of the findings, Reassured spoke to childcare expert, Kathryn Lord and David Doughty, CEO at Admiral Jet, and together they have correlated a list of 10 tips to prepare your children for a flight.

Involving your kids in the planning phase

1. Age-appropriate books can help children get an understanding of what to expect. You can also use a map to show the route you’re taking, and they can ask all those burning questions while the excitement sets in.

2. Showing children photos of the destination and explaining how hot or cold it is will help them to take part in choosing what to pack.  This way they can take on some independence by packing appropriate clothes as well as pick out some games they might want to play on holiday.

3. If you have any anxieties about planes, try not to let your child notice this.

4. Especially during the holiday season long queues and a lot of new noises can be expected when getting to the airport. Explaining to children a little about what to expect can be a great help for a smooth and stress-free check-in and security check.

What to include in your hand luggage?

1. Ensure to carry extra nappies, wipes and change of nappies as necessary. You’ll also be able to bring enough milk and formula as these items are exempt from the 100ml rule.

2. Wear or pack comfy clothes for your child to sleep in if the flight is a long haul. Taking the toothbrush to do their teeth and changing into PJs can help signal that it is time to go to sleep – a good way to pass the flight time!

3. Providing a comfy seat or a small flatbed can help settle your child. Some prams have a removable seat but ensure to check with the airlines if accepted.

4. Bring picture or painting books to keep the little one busy. Paperback books are lightweight and offer hours of fun! If old enough, you can start playing little games like tic-tac-toe.

5. With only a few things to do, screen time can be a good way to keep the little ones distracted. You can download their favorite films or shows before the trip and make sure you charge the battery before the flight. Bring comfy earphones for them so other passengers won’t be bothered by the sound.

6. Fill up their water bottles before getting on the plane and bring some of their favorite snacks in case the hunger kicks in between meals. Raisins, a packet of crisps or some wine gummies are often available in smaller packages and won’t take up much room. 

To conclude, a spokesperson from Reassured comments on the study: “During the summer months many families will be looking forward to their holidays, but the planning can be daunting. Packing and ensuring you’re allowed to take everything on board can be time-consuming, so we hope our breakdown of what different airlines offer will help you to a relaxed start to your holiday!”

To view the full research and find out more about Reassured, please visit https://www.reassured.co.uk/best-airlines-for-travelling-with-children/