Apart from a large glass of wine, what makes the most difference when travelling long-haul with children? Is it the inflight entertainment, the attitude of cabin crew, well-thought-out activity packs, or stress-savers such as being able to skip the check-in queue? Offerings for families on international airlines range from virtually non-existent to very generous, making it both important and difficult for parents to choose.
The executive chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Peter Harbison, sat on a panel to select finalists for the 2011 Family Friendly Airline Award and says it was a very tough job. The award, organised by the US-based Kids First Fund, was won by North American carrier Air Transat, which offers families dedicated airport counters, children’s welcome kits, prize drawings and on-board birthday celebrations. Services offered by other finalists in the awards included kids’ zones in airport lounges, inflight magazines for kids, the opportunity for children to make inflight announcements and even staff training to help autistic children.
“It was very hard to differentiate between airlines,” Harbison says. He says he looked for evidence that airlines really cared about families, such as by having priority check-in and quality entertainment.
The general manager of Travel with Kidz Newport, Uschi Howard, nominates airline scheduling, pre-seating policies and inflight entertainment systems as the top factors for smooth family travel. “Do not sacrifice… (click here to keep reading this article by Jane E. Fraser)