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Travel 5 Free Airline Perks to Make Flying With Kids More Bearable

21:05  14 december  2019
21:05  14 december  2019 Source:   cntraveler.com

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a man standing next to a window© Getty
Even if you're flying in economy, these free toys, supplies, and services from airlines will make traveling with small children more bearable.

Holiday travel is stressful enough, but throw in a baby, toddler, or tween, and navigating through a crowded airport to sit on a plane for hours feels nearly impossible. In addition to knowing some small tricks—like the fact that your Clear membership can also be applied to kids under 18 or TSA PreCheck to children 12 and under—most airlines are willing to shell out free goods and services to make your flight a bit more bearable.

Priority boarding for families

Traveling with a small child usually means carrying more stuff, which means it takes more time to get settled at your seat during the boarding process. Fortunately, several airlines offer to let families on the plane earlier free of charge to ease that stress.

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Alaska Airlines and United both let families with children under two years old on the plane with the "pre-boarding" group, which boards even before first class passengers. Southwest Airlines allows "two adults traveling with a child six years old or younger" to board with the airline's designated family boarding group, which is right after the first "A" group. American Airlines doesn't announce family boarding, but its policy says "families with children under two years old can ask to board early at the gate."

Emirates, Etihad, South African, and Air Canada all have similar policies that allow families with small children to be among the first people on the plane without paying an extra fee.

Additionally Lufthansa, Swiss, Emirates, and Air Canada all offer special check-in areas that make the process faster for families at their hub airports. Some even add extra touches for kids, like Lufthansa's "Best Friend" boarding pass, which is a special ticket for children's teddy bears or other toys.

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Free toys and activity kits

If there's one lesson to take from Christmas, it's that the promise of toys can usually buy good behavior from kids—and airlines have taken note. Lufthansa, for instance, is handing out holiday-themed gifts to all children on board during the holiday season. This year's offerings include a teddy bear with a Santa hat, a Christmas seal, or a pilot-themed baseball cap. Chocolates will also be given to passengers in all classes.

Similarly, Emirates hands out plush animal toys (like lions and elephants) for children in all cabins year-round, and kids between three and six years old get a backpack filled with stickers and activity sheets; older kids get a travel-themed pack with crafts and puzzles. All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines also give out various toys and activity kits, while Singapore Airlines distributes gratis toys to children 12 and under and even correspond the type of toy to the child's age—a toddler might get a plush toy or play dough and an older kid might get a card game.

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British Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Etihad all offer similar free activity kits to keep kids busy that include items like coloring books, puzzles, and games for on longer flights. Just ask a flight attendant about the kits after boarding.

Baby bassinets

Many airlines offer free baby bassinets on a first come, first served basis for economy cabins (availability in business or first class varies). The baby beds usually attach to the wall of the bulkhead seats, which is where parents who want to utilize this service must be sitting, so it does take some planning. Cabin crew will help parents set them up. Most bassinet policies are also subject to restrictions on infants' weight, height, and age.

Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Korean, Etihad, ANA, Alitalia, and Japan Airlines all offer free baby bassinets for parents to rent in economy. American Airlines has bassinets available on certain aircraft only. United has a limited number on international aircraft only, and Delta bassinets (called SkyCots) are available for select seats on select international aircraft. Call the airlines' reservations or customer service numbers to request one (some are also bookable online though "manage my reservation").

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Extra baby supplies

If that carefully packed diaper bag starts to run low on supplies as the flight stretches on, a handful of international airlines will provide parents with extra staples to tide their babies over. (As these are sometimes available in a pinch, each airline does recommend packing as much of your own supplies as possible.) ANA can provide extra diapers, baby bottles, and powdered milk in-flight, JAL has extra diapers, and Singapore has extra diapers, disposable bibs, feeding bottles, and baby wipes. Emirates offers bottles and formula and gives out an "infant kit" with a few essentials like diaper cream, bibs, and wipes.

Etihad's in-flight nanny service

For parents flying with Etihad who need to leave their seat, use the bathroom, or just want a break mid-flight, the airline offers a "flying nanny" service that's available in all cabins on its long-haul routes. The nannies are flight attendants who have received special training in childcare at the prestigious Norland college in England, which is where the British royal family's nannies also train. "You learn all the skills you need to deal with children of different ages," Etihad flight attendant and nanny Eileen Louwerse told Business Insider of the training. "But also how you deal with ADHD and ADD. Some children just need more attention." When called, the caregivers will stop by to watch over children with toys, games, and even face painting.

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Every airline ticket used to come with these 'perks' – so why don't they anymore? .
Airlines now charge us for what used to be free – like seat selection, a checked bag and a printed boarding pass. Have they gone too far?Sure, you can still get those perks. But you either have to pay extra for them or participate in the airline's habit-forming frequent flier program.

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