Which airlines are best for families?

I have to say straight off that I have not been on every airline. I have however, flown on a fair few and, for the last 9 years, have flown with a child.

So I have a little bit of experience in family flying and a few observations and opinions on which airlines are more friendly towards children.

3 out of 10: United Airlines scores low in every test that I have run. I have flown with them to and from and within the States and don’t really have anything good to say. What they excel at is making people with children feel uncomfortable, unwanted and like 3 rd class passengers. I don’t fly with them now unless they are running a fantastic promotion. They have to be seriously cheaper to be worth the hassle.

5 out of 10: Charter flights such as Thomson Fly and JMC. I have been on so many I can’t remember the names of all of them.  But generally, I would not recommend any charter airline for long haul flights with children. The main problem is that the seats are tiny, tinier than is normally considered tiny in economy class. The other problem is that most charter airlines charge for everything including juice and snacks. And no movies, games or entertainment doesn’t help. They’re fine for short flights but shell out a bit extra and go with an all inclusive airline for long haul, it’s worth it.

7 out of 10: British Airways are all around good. I wouldn’t say they are fantastic, nothing outstanding special. But neither is there anything to complain about. They take good care of you, are polite and helpful and treat the kids well.

8 out of 10: Singapore Airlines was fantastic, my son was given a cuddly toy, addressed by his first name and made to feel very welcome. The only complaint I had is that they couldn’t control the two little terrors that delighted in kicking the back of my son and husband’s seats. And their children’s meals are nothing but rubbish, which is in stark contrast to the fantastic food they serve on their normal menu.

9 out of 10: The Quantas flight was very short. Just one hour from Sydney to Brisbane but I was impressed by the helpful stewardesses, the cleanliness and the kids meal. Granted, it was only a snack but it was, in true Sydney style, healthy - brown bread ham sandwich with a banana and bottle of water. Best kids meal I have ever seen on an airplane.

9 out of 10: Emirates have gorgeous new planes. If you’re lucky enough to fly in one they will keep the kids entertained for the entire flight. The food was perfectly fine although we didn’t book a children’s meal so I can’t comment on it. The flight attendants were very attentive towards the kids. My son happened to have a horrendous cough at the time we flew and the stewardesses went out of their way to get him drinks, cough drops and talk to him to take his mind off of it.  Some of the stewardesses were taking babies and toddlers for an hour or so to allow their mums to get some sleep.

9 out of 10: Virgin Airways is the best airline for kids that I have flown with. Their kids pack alone is worth the bit extra, although they are sometimes actually the cheapest choice. I’m always jealous when my son gets the pack, he still has the backpacks we got from various flights. But be careful, the pack is only available on the flight out, not the return journey.  We missed it once on the way out to South Africa and my son was sooooo disappointed. Their kids meals are ok, not brilliant, (baked beans, burger and fries) and they are generally helpful and cheerful with the kids.

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