For most parents the flight is the most nerve wrecking part of traveling with kids. You're worried your baby will cry the entire flight or you're toddler will act up and all the passengers will be giving you death stares. Believe it or not the airline you fly can make a big difference in your experience especially when flying long haul.
It's no secret US Airlines aren't the most catering to parents and I've always preferred to fly International Airlines when possible. We recently flew Qatar Airways to Thailand and WOW, l definitely plan on booking with them for as many of our future flights as possible. Here's why:
Qatar Airways like most International Airlines provides a discount on airfare for children aged 2-11 years old. The discount ranges from 10%-50% off the adult fare but varies by route.
Lap Infant Luggage
Each lap infant is allowed to check a car seat or stroller free of charge. In addition you are allowed one carry-on up to10kg (22lb) or 50x37x25cm (20x15x10in).
At The Airport
Strollers Like most airlines you can check this item free of charge even if traveling with an lap infant. However Qatar Airways goes above and beyond by providing loaner strollers to parents free of charge to get through the airport whether you checked one or not!
Entertainment Getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare or have a long layover? Qatar Airways has play areas in their terminal at the airport to help pass the time for your little ones. At their hub in Doha they have full on activity nodes which include a small play area, tv area, and computers equipped with free internet. At their hub they also have family restrooms and parents rooms that are equipped with bottle warmers and changing tables.
Priority Boarding Believe it or not a lot of airlines (READ US airlines) no longer offer priority boarding for families. Although I don't always recommend boarding early with kids (especially toddlers) there are reasons to and it's nice that they still offer this option.
For more information on what amenities Qatar Airways provides at airports for those traveling with kids click here.
Infants Talk about above and beyond! Each infant gets a small toy, diaper bag (2 diapers, 4 wipes, baby lotion, and baby powder), baby meal, and toys. I have never been on an airline that provides this much for an unpaid lap child. The diapers would have definitely came in handy that one time I lost Jordyn's back pack that had her wipes in it before a flight that I of course didn't realize until we were in flight.
I remember my first long haul flight with Jordyn on Delta Airlines and when they served our meal I asked for something for her to eat and the flight attendant rudely told me they don't give meals to lap infants. She was 15 months and I understand I didn't pay full price (you pay 10% of the adult fare for international flights) but it was a 9hr flight and even a snack would have been nice.
The designated baby meal on Qatar Airways is pureed jarred food but when the flight attendants served our meals they always asked if I wanted something extra for Kennedy, a yogurt, croissant, etc. It wasn't a full meal but at 11 months she doesn't eat that much anyway.
They also provide some toys for the infants on flight. Each flight has something else but here are the three toys we were offered on our routes.
Children 11 and Under Before take-off each child is given an entertainment pack. This includes games, something to color, etc. These are the two game packs Jordyn was given on our different routes.
Qatar also offers a child meal option. The meal comes in it's own lunch box and is catered to kids. On our 4 flights the meals varied a bit but consisted of sandwiches, mac & cheese, pasta with chicken, fruit, chips, cookies, cake, and juice. There was definitely more junk food than I'd like but it's not an every day occurrence so I didn't stress about it.
Like most long haul flights everyone has a personal television and Qatar Airways had a kids section with tons of age appropriate options. The headphones they provide are over the ear which are much better for young kids. You will have to manage yourself the volume at which your child has the sound but if you don't have your own volume controlled kids headphones these are a great alternative unlike the in-ear headphones some airlines provide.
For more information on what Qatar Airways provides to young travelers click here.
My experience on Qatar Airways with the girls was amazing. The food, entertainment, and genuine willingness to help with the kids from the flight attendants makes me want to fly with them everywhere possible.
What are your favorite airline(s) to travel with kids? Please share your experiences!