It’s always embarrassing when our kids act up during a long flight, but well, small children and tight spaces typically don’t match up well. These family-friendly airlines aim to make your flights with kids a breeze.
Singaporean kids are a lucky bunch, with many having travelled overseas before they’re even a year old! Instilling wanderlust in our offspring from a young age is a wonderful thing, and all those Instagrammable moments while on vacation? Priceless!
But let’s face it; flying with children can sometimes be a pain. No passenger on a flight wants to listen to your whiny eight-year-old or worse, the screams of your inconsolable baby – least of all you! But don’t fret – there may be blue skies ahead. We curate 10 kid-friendly airlines (listed in alphabetical order) that make it a point to go above and beyond for you and your family.
1. Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand’s best in-flight innovation has to be Economy Skycouch, a row of three seats that can be converted into an area to relax and stretch out however you like. It’s like having your own couch and is especially useful for kiddy playtime or naptime cuddles!
Buzz design studio designed the adorable Jet Cadets fun packs, with activities to keep kids occupied while in the air. The gate-to-gate in-flight entertainment system also offers movies, TV programmes, games and audio books in a section dedicated to children.
Food & drink: Select the child’s meal option when booking for a child two years and older; they are typically served ahead of adults. Designed to appeal to fussy eaters, meals may include pan-fried chicken thigh with mashed potato or spaghetti and meatballs. Snacks include chocolate brownies and fruit drinks. For babies, cabin crew can help you heat milk and baby food, and wash but not sterilise bottles.
Other amenities: Selected flights may offer seats with bassinets designed for infants up to eight months old and 11.8 kg. Do book in advance.
Frequent flyer miles: Children can earn Airpoints just like adults can.
More information: www.airnewzealand.com
2. Asiana Airlines
Its multi-talented cabin crew help make sure time flies for the little ones, with special in-flight programmes on selected long-haul flights. From photo sessions where kids dress up in flight uniforms or traditional hanbok to magic shows, cabin tours and crafting activities, there’s no lack of fun to keep the kids amused.
In addition, the Asiana Littles section in the in-flight entertainment system lets kids enjoy animated films, kids songs and games. They also get puzzles and colouring books. Asiana offers a Pre-Mom service for expectant ladies, Happy Mom service for mums travelling alone with tots under three years, and Family service for ladies travelling alone with two or more kids under seven years. These offer extra care and a range of priority services from the moment you check in.
Food & drink: Baby, toddler and child meals are customised to individual age and preference, so make sure to make your orders in advance. Flights departing from Seoul offer rice gruel dishes for infants under two years in addition to commercial baby food jars. Similarly, kids under 12 years flying out of Seoul may get popular Korean food items such as tteokgalbi and seasoned rice.
Other amenities: Reserve bassinets (for infants up to 11 kg) and baby seats (for babies up to two years with their own ‘child’ fare seat) in advance. Bathrooms and equipped with baby changing tables.
Frequent flyer miles: Asiana Airlines has a special Magic Miles club just for kids under 12 years. They enjoy a range of perks and earn 75 per cent of miles that adult Asiana Club members do, with the same applying when redeeming reward flights.
More information: http://ea.flyasiana.com
3. British Airways
Kids get Skyflyers flying-themed activity packs which come in fun swimming bags that they can keep using. Age-appropriate contents include crayons and a Spread your Wings colouring book for younger ones aged three to five years, while older kids over six years get a pen and the Wing It activity book with puzzles and exciting facts about flying.
In-flight entertainment includes CBeebies, Cartoon Network and Disney channels, plus movies for the whole family. Educational series iMinds Jr on audio will keep curious little minds occupied, or if it’s naptime, tune in to soothing bedtime audio stories and exclusive music mixes designed to help kids fall asleep.
Food & drink: Pre-order special children’s meals and kids get served first. They also offer baby bottle and baby food warming facilities, and a limited stock of baby food and milk.
Other amenities: Book carrycots and child seats for newborns up to two years old in advance at no extra charge.
Frequent flyer miles: The entire family, even infants, can join and accumulate Avios via the Executive Club Household Account (up to seven members living at the same address).
More information: www.britishairways.com
4. Cathay Pacific
In-flight entertainment includes cartoons, family movies and interactive games. Junior VIPs, which is what they call kids at Cathay Pacific, get a colourful fun pack if they’re three to six years old. Each contains games, stationery and activity books that kids can take home with them. You can request for baby packs if you require extra diapers, diaper creams and lotions.
Food & drink: Kids’ meals come with colourful child-safe cutlery and a box of juice, with an adorable curly straw you can keep – pre-order in advance, and kids are served first. They also have baby food, including a strained meat or vegetable item, junior dessert and baby juice. Note that while they don’t heat baby food or milk for you, they can provide a container of hot water for that purpose.
Other amenities: Request for baby bassinets (for babies up to 12 kg) at time of booking. Each aircraft has at least two toilets with fold-down diaper-changing tables.
Frequent flyer miles: Children aged two years and up can accrue Asia Miles.
More information: www.cathaypacific.com
(See also: The Best Must-have Travel Essentials for Kids!)
5. Emirates Airlines
Watch dedicated children’s programmes on Emirate’s award-winning in-flight entertainment system, ice Digital Widescreen. With funky headphone sets designed just for them, kids can enjoy a whopping 90 channels available on their personal seatback TV, or challenge fellow travellers in up to 100 in-flight games.
Travel bags, sometimes in the form of lunch coolers, are filled with Lonely Planet Kids’ educational books, creative crafts and a travel journal. Fly With Me activity magazine and plush animals will also accompany young ones. The airline is also Skytrax World Airline Awards’ reigning Airline of the Year.
Food & drink: Young flyers aged two to 12 can pick from a menu of children’s favourites to be served on a colourful tray, along with a snack box filled with treats. Baby meals, formula and milk bottles are also available on board, but they can help with food and bottle warming if you bring your own.
Other amenities: Parents with babies will find changing tables in the bathrooms and infant kits filled with diapers, bibs and wipes, useful. Baby bassinets are available for booking in advance.
Frequent flyer miles: Kids aged two to 16 have their very own Skywards frequent flyer programme called Skysurfers, where they can earn miles, enjoy extra perks and qualify for reward flights.
More information: www.emirates.com
6. Etihad Airways
You’ve heard of The Flying Nun, well, Etihad has orange-aproned Flying Nannies! On long haul flights, specialised childcare-trained flight crew help families settle in. They serve children their meals early in the flight, and offer activities and challenges to entertain and occupy their young charges – don’t be surprised if they even pull off puppet shows and magic tricks! The Flying Nanny also teaches kids arts and crafts, such as creating greeting cards for friends and family, using materials in the special travel pack children receive. Older children may even get a tour of the galley during quieter moments of the flight!
In-flight entertainment offers a dedicated Kids Club with interactive games, children’s shows and movies. It features animated characters, Zoe the bee, Jamool the camel, Kundai the lion and Boo the panda.
Food & drink: Meals for children aged two to 12 may include burgers, fish fingers, pizza, chicken nuggets and French fries, as well as snacks like crisps and chocolate. Milk and baby food can be heated on board, and baby meals are also available upon request. The Flying Nanny will offer water, fruit and snacks to kids, as well as replenish milk bottles as the flight progresses.
Other amenities: Bassinets and carry-cots can be pre-booked for infants below 10 kg.
Frequent flyer miles: Everyone in the family (up to nine members of all ages) can pool their Etihad Guest Miles and benefit from the added flexibility of a Family Membership.
More information: www.etihad.com
7. EVA Air
Perfect for Sanrio fans young and old, EVA Air’s Hello Kitty jets are a must-fly for many reasons. The fun begins even before you board, as the aircraft boasts livery with your favourite Sanrio characters – squeee! It gets better inside. It’s all been Kitty-ied out, from pillows to toilet paper, even safety instructions! Although flight routes are limited, the flight itself must surely count as a vacation for kids!
Of course, each child receives an EVA Hello Kitty goodie bag stuffed with in-flight service items, Sanrio character sheets, toys and games, colouring books and a place mat to colour in. Items change quarterly with the seasons. Kids also enjoy child-appropriate cartoons and video games on the in-flight entertainment systems. Wi-Fi and SMS mobile connections on board let you post your Hello Kitty selfies on social media!
Food & drink: Hello Kitty and other Sanrio Family Jets, including the Shining Star Boeing 777-300ER flights, serve children’s meals in themed lunch boxes and water bottles to make mealtimes extra fun. These can be ordered in advance.
Other amenities: Book early and reserve bassinets when travelling with infants to enjoy priority on bulkhead seating. Bottles, baby food and diapers are provided upon request, at no extra charge. There are fold-down diaper changing tables in most washrooms.
Frequent flyer miles: Children aged two years and up can join Infinity MileageLands and earn miles.
More information: www.evakitty.com
Families flying out of Frankfurt and Munich airports will be greeted by Lu and Cosmo, the two Lufthansa mascots at dedicated family check-in counters. In-flight entertainment includes specially selected kids movies, cartoons, documentaries, radio plays and more. On selected flights, children can see the aircraft from the pilot’s viewpoint during takeoff and landing via external cameras!
Young passengers receive toys and colouring books in a fun travel pack. If it’s their first Lufthansa flight, they get a special logbook they can record their flights in. When it’s filled, they can receive a pilot’s certificate!
Food & drink: Food for babies and toddlers, such as jars of baby food, mini Vienna sausages and soups, are available on board while supplies last. They will warm up your own baby food or bottles, if you prefer. Kids two years and above can pre-order from the Children’s Menu, containing dishes created by German chef Cornelia Poletto that were selected – rightfully – by a jury of children! Expect fun and tasty meals such as Tortoise Muffin, Lu’s Favourite Lasagne, or Chipolata Mummies!
Other amenities: Washrooms on board have baby changing units, and spare diapers are available in case of emergencies. You can pre-book baby bassinets, which are suited for babies up to 14 kg in weight and 83 cm in length.
Frequent flyer miles: Join JetFriends, the free Lufthansa and Miles & More club for kids aged two to 17. Kids and teens each get their own activity area with fun educational quizzes, and earn miles just like the adults!
More information: www.lufthansa.com
9. Qatar Airways
The youngest travellers will have Mr Potato Head and Elefun plush toys and plush book to keep them company throughout the flight. Older kids are engaged with a selection of toys, educational kits and activity books. Classic games such as Guess Who and Monopoly Here and Now World Edition add to the fun. There’s even a glow-in-the-dark Clue Junior entertainment pack if you’re travelling on an overnight flight!
A dedicated Young Travellers channel via the in-flight entertainment system packs the latest movies, TV programmes and interactive games. Even babies aren’t left out – they get their very own colourful Baby TV channel. Qatar Airways is also known for its spacious Economy Class seating arrangements, great for families with kids.
Food & drink: Pre-book specially prepared children’s meals, which come in Pictureka or Monopoly-themed lunch boxes that kids can take home. Each is filled with attractive and tasty choices like pasta, fish or chicken, as well as fruit juice and sweet treats.
Other amenities: Apart from priority check-in and baby bassinet seats you can reserve, parents with infants also receive a special baby kit, which includes baby food jars, a bottle and diapers.
Frequent flyer miles: Children aged two years and up can earn QPoints. The whole family can pool their points via the Privilege Club’s Family Programme.
More information: www.qatarairways.com
10. Singapore Airlines
Last but definitely not least, our award-winning national carrier. The Next Generation KrisWorld Inflight Entertainment system offers The Young Ones section. It packs popular TV programmes and cartoons, movies, music and audio stories. Games include Monsters University: Hide and Sneak and multi-player games where kids can play against each other from their seats. Older kids can try learning useful foreign phrases before arriving at their destinations with an interactive language learning programme.
Disney-branded children travel packs are given to children under 12 years, with items changed every four months. The famed cabin crew a.k.a. Singapore Girls are also trained to assist parents. They help keep kids occupied and can help to carry an infant to give parents a needed break.
Food & drink: Babies up to two years old are offered age-appropriate meals, from jars of baby food to easy-to-chew finger foods. Child meals are suitable for kids up to seven years, comprising fun and healthy choices. Kids are served first, and parents of babies are served in turn. Kids travelling in Suites, First and Business Class can also pick from the Yummy! menu – think spaghetti and meatballs or sausages and pancakes – even before you board.
Other amenities: Request for a bassinet (for babies up to 14 kg) when booking an infant ticket. Also provided for infants is a bassinet comforter; it also functions as a baby blanket that you can keep after the flight. Diapers, disposable bibs, feeding bottles and baby wipes are also available in limited amounts.
Frequent flyer miles: Children aged two years and up can accrue KrisFlyer miles, just like any adult.
More information: www.singaporeair.com
Information is accurate at time of publishing; do check with respective airlines for latest information.
Images are courtesy of respective airlines, unless otherwise credited