Updated: Mar 21
So, you have finally decided on the travel destination for the upcoming family trip. What’s next? The booking of flights and hotels usually follow.
Travellers are spoilt for choice these days when it comes to flying. There are so many options to choose from if you are flying to any of the major cities such as New York, London or Hong Kong. Even with the regional destinations, there would be at least 2 or 3 airlines that can take you there – from national carriers to budget, no-frills airlines.
What factors should you consider when deciding which airline to go for or which flight to book, so that the flight is less stressful for the whole family?
1) Flight Time
Day flight or red-eye? Direct or transit? Parents have to consider the kids’ age, their schedule and naptimes as well as how seasoned a traveller the kids are. Some kids are able to sleep on the plane while others just can’t. Would you rather be tired in the day or have disrupted rest (if you child doesn’t sleep or keeps waking up)? For long-haul flights, a transit could help ease cabin fever and give kids a chance to stretch their legs a bit. (It may also be lighter on the wallet!) If there is time-difference, consider flight times that may reduce the extent of jetlag.
2) Type of Aircraft
Every Airline has a fleet of varied Aircrafts, assigned to different air routes and flight timings.
The type of aircraft will determine how old/new the seats are as well as the Seat Configuration (which in turn determines seating arrangement for the Adults and Children).
Factors to Consider in choosing where to seat everyone:
– Is a bassinet required?
– Aisle or Window?
– Need more legroom?
– Who sits with which child?
– A good tip is to seat everyone along the same aisle, so that kids can run over to other family members or the adults can assist as and when required. This is especially useful if travelling in a big party.
3) Cabin Section
This is a personal preference. Sitting in the front cabin allows for an early exit and therefore, quicker access to the immigration queues. However, the cabin at the back is great for restless children to move about during the flight, but that also mean you are likely the last to disembark (not a problem if you are returning home as the immigration lines for citizens and residents are usually shorter). Sitting near the toilets may be convenient when travelling with kids or elderly. It is not a bad idea to be seated near the galley as the kids can get snacks/drinks more easily and interact with the cabin crew (when they are not busy prepping meals).
4) Flight Occupancy Rate
If you can, travel during the off-peak travel seasons, or on days where the flights are not as full. Needless to say, a less occupied flight will mean that the cabin crew has fewer meals to prep and passengers to tend to. It also means that you could have an empty seat next to you or an entire row to yourself, which is always useful for kids to lie down and nap or even just put all the stuff they bring on the flight (and fewer passengers to disturb if the kids make a din in mid-air).
5) Flight Duration
If it is a long-haul flight, the kids will likely need to use the bathroom more frequently. You may also prefer seats with more legroom for a more comfortable flight. You may need to pack more snacks and toys/tablet to keep the kids entertained.
Travelling with an infant can be harrowing, with the frequent feeding and diaper changes, and some may refuse to lie in the bassinet. One way to make travelling a much more comfortable experience, especially when travelling with an infant (or a child under two who is still on an infant ticket), is to travel on Business Class. These seats are usually much more spacious and comfortable (some even can convert into a flatbed) and you also get more personalised attention. It does not have to be an expensive affair, if you know how to accumulate enough miles for a full redemption or even an upgrade. It does require some planning ahead though!
Now that we have looked at the flight considerations, next we will share tips on what to pack.
About Calvina Dawn Lee:
Calvina is a mother of two, well, three if you include her beagle, Louis. She has been travelling with her kids from when they were as young as 2-months-old, and believes that the gift of travel and exploration is one of the best experience parents could give to their children.