What to Know About Family-Friendly Airlines

Reyna Gobel
By Reyna Gobel 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Traveling with infants and young children, whether you’re doing it alone or as a couple, presents challenges even on the most delightful trip. You have to juggle strollers, your luggage and theirs, and somehow lift everything on to the security conveyor belt.

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Many airlines offer various amenities to ease your travel stress. Toy retailer Play Like Mum gathered information on family-friendly features for 20 regional and international carriers. It checked whether the airlines offered eight key features: early boarding for families, free seat reservations, free checked luggage, no “lap fees,” kids meals, free kids entertainment, in-flight bassinets and whether you can take pushchairs, or strollers, for free.

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British Airways and Emirates have all the family frills. Both global carriers offer all of the eight family-friendly amenities. Older kids who don’t need toddler features can still enjoy kid-friendly programming and kids’ meals.

Assigned seating and ‘no lap fee’ are not so common. If you are traveling with an infant or toddler in your lap and don’t want to pay a lap-child fee, your choices are shrinking. Of the five airlines highlighted by Play Like Mum for not charging lap fees, most now offer a discounted lap fee on many routes. However, that fee can be a small fraction of the adult fare charged for a seat. Assigned seats are the second-least-available amenity. If you want assigned seating and no lap fees, knock Lufthansa off the list.

Some discount airlines in Europe have fewer family-friendly amenities. The airlines with the least family-friendly amenities were Flybe, Ryanair and Jet2.com. Flybe allows you to take a stroller for free, but you won’t get assigned seats or any of the other amenities on the list.

Amenities change. Just like with airfares, amenities offered by airlines can change. You should always check the website of the carrier you choose for their family-friendly policies before booking your tickets. You may find some features are absent or new ones added, which could make your flight easier.

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