Best Airline for Toddler

Old May 16th, 2005, 07:40 PM
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Best Airline for Toddler

What airline is the most kid-friendly? We are traveling to Italy (flying into Venice and out of Rome) from San Francisco with fifteen month old.(she is very mature for her age
We would like to make this experience as painless as possible.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 10:02 PM
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Virgin Airlines??? However, to me it depends on who the flight attendants are during your flight. It all depends on the individuals on board. Just my thoughts.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 11:18 PM
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Please define the term, "kid friendly."????????????
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Old May 17th, 2005, 02:22 AM
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In all the flights I'ver ever taken from US to Europe, I've never really been on a flight with any airline where the airline could be defined as anything other than "kid-friendly". It's unclear what you mean by the phrase. On various occasions, however, I have seen parents asked by the attendants not to allow thier children to run unrestrained up and down the aisles, which is for the safety of all the passengers, kids included. Lengthy flights are a challenge for young children, as you probably already know, as it's hard to find ways to manage their natural restlessness. It's also a loaded subject for many passengers, but If your child isn't kicking the back of the seat of the passenger sitting in front of him/her and is otherwise generally well behaved, I imagine you'll be fine on any airline. A great deal depends on the behavior of the parents toward other passengers, as well.

I have seen some flight attendants show amazing patience with children, included once with a child who cried and screamed for 99% of the flight from Paris to New York. Those attendants were kept busy keeping the peace with all the sleepless passengers who had to sit through this in close quarters, as well as treating the parents with compassion.

Virgin airlines is a good suggestion, although I think it's smart to check the size and legroon of the seats first.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 02:48 AM
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We have been flying across the Atlantic with our now two year old since he was four months. We have already been to the US four times this year. Our first experience was poor on Delta. No attention for him what-so-ever. Nothing. The only comment we heard was 'He was so quiet we didn't remember he was on the flight'. Anyway, we have flown American several times, again no acknowledgement of a 'baby on board'. We flew twice in business on American and bottles were heated, but that was it.

Our best experience to date was our last two trips this year on British Airways. The flight attendants were great. The best thing about BA is if you book early enough they will pre-assign the bulkhead seats for you. American, Delta and United did not do this for us whenever we flew economy. Another thing about BA is that they have bassinets (which our son was too big for) as well as bouncy chairs. the chair was a great relief for us as we did not buy him a ticket. If you get the bulkhead seats then this should be offered to you (if you are not purchasing a seat for your daughter). If you are purchasing a seat for her, then still try for the bulkhead. Our son had his on seat on the last flight to and from Atlanta. We decided we did not need the bulkhead anymore which was a grave mistake. Our son is in his second stage car seat which we took on board with us. The second stage car seat is very elevated. His legs were just long enough to keep kicking the seat in front of him. Luckily the man in front was very understanding as our son was not doing it on purpose, it is just every time he moved his feet touched the seat in front of him. BA also made sure to give him a goody on every leg of our trip and checked on him often.

What I will say is you should make sure you have enough food and drink for her as you never know what kind of service you will get. Also, we always buy our son a surprise toy and give it to him on the plane once we take off.

We went to Venice for 2 weeks last August - make sure you bring and umbrella stroller to get up and over the bridges and if you can a portable highchair. We often skipped some eateries for lack of highchairs.

Or next trip will be on Virgin and we have only heard good things. Good Luck!
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Old May 17th, 2005, 03:21 AM
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I can appreciate your concern as a parent. However, I must disagree that a child kicking the seat in front has anything to do with whether or not the child "did it on purpose." We already know that part..what we can never quite seem to understand is how the parents of the child can allow this to continue, especially since when we flew with our own small children we never allowed this to occur.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 03:35 AM
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Intrepid1,

Actually my 2 year old son was not kicking the seat. Due to the height of his car seat and the way his legs were positioned his feet rested on the back of the chair in front of him. He is a baby, not one of my 13 year old stepdaughters who would understand. As far as the man in front of me was concerned, I did offer to switch places with him as I did not want to him to suffer while my son was awake. Far from binding my son's feet there really was not much we could do to prevent his feet resting on the chair in front. Furthermore, the seat in front of my son was slightly broken and did not fully lock in the upright position. I guess you are implying you are some sort of better parent when it comes to travelling...get a grip.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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Mebe, You should definitely do a search for a poster with the screen name of "skatterfly." She did extensive research here about flying to and travelling in Europe with a toddler. I think she recently posted a trip report. Lots of good info there.

Like the others, I'm unclear what a kid-friendly airline would be. Other than the pre-board privilege, bulkhead seats and a little help with warming food/bottles, I don't know what services you would expect from an airline for a toddler. I agree that a lot depends on the flight crew and the other passengers.

We had good experiences on Virgin when our's was a toddler. If you're purchasing a seat for your daughter, they will not let you use your car seat but will provide a specially designed safety seat. There are pre-school options on the inseat video screens. They hand out a grand "kid pack" but it's really geared for ages 3 and older. Bring your own goodie bag.

As noted, this is a fairly contentious topic and has been known to descend into a playground scuffle once someone thinks their parenting skills have been called into question. Keep some perspective and a good sense of humor!
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Old May 17th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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I don't know what you mean by "kid friendly". If you 're asking about special services - toys etc - I don;t know any airline that's done any of that for years.

With a toddler I think your most important factor is the length of the flight. So I would simply pick the shortest, least crowded (if possible) flight witht the best on-time record.

Also - think about your child's usual sleep pattern - are you better with a flight leaving at 5/6pm - or one at 9/10pm - in terms of keeping to a nap schedule?
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Old May 17th, 2005, 05:25 AM
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I agree with nytraveler about the flight times...this does make a big difference. We usually take very early flights for the outbound as they tend to be a lot less crowded. Another good option is a early eavening flight as our son is usually ready to sleep for the night at 6:30 pm. We always take night flights on our return. Our son always sleeps the whole way home and it helps him to adjust to the time change a lot quicker.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Thanks for all your advice. And you are right - "kid-friendly" was unclear. I mean't pre-boarding, bulk-head seating and basically, overall comfort (roominess) of the seats. However, I agree that the success of our flying experience will be more contingent on when we plan the trip (thanks for reminding me to find the shortest flight possible) and how well prepared my husband and I are to entertain, care for our child.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 06:04 AM
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Either Luftansa or British Air (I forget which trip it was) has a policy of serving all the kid's meals first, and then coming through with food for the grownups. That is a very family-friendly idea.

But yes, it will mostly be about mom and dad's preparation. Here are some suggstions that worked for me:

-- Bulkhead seats for legroom and floor play-space.
-- Brand new small toys that appear every few hours.
-- Baby lotion to give hand and foot massages.
-- One of those paint-by-numbers book with the paint already on the page; cue-tips for paintbrushes; a cup of water from the flight attendant.
-- A small container of play-dough, with interesting shapes/beads to press into it to make faces.
-- Stickers to apply to the car seat. Or to the child. Or to the airplane (check that they'll peel off eaily).
-- A blankie to make a tent and hide under.
-- Stories stories stories



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Old May 18th, 2005, 06:45 AM
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I think you can do the most to influence the success of the flight, more than any particular airlines can. You sound thoughtful and well prepared, but I mention this only because the worst melt-downs I've seen with kids were when the parents didn't even had food/snacks or toys/entertainment on hand for them. I'm not a Mom, but found it somewhat shocking that folks would board a long flight without so much as crackers in their pockets!
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Old May 18th, 2005, 07:45 AM
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Mebe,
We have travelled long flights with our kids. When our oldest son was 15 mo. we flew to Lisbon. We took cold medicine to help him sleep on the flight (be sure to try out the meds on your daughter before the trip, if you decide to give cold meds, some kids become hyper)he slept without it, but a 12month old behind us screamed. I offered some cold meds to the mom, and tried to drop into her mouth without contacting her mouth and she sucked it down, dropper and all. She then slept, but we were out of cold meds for the cold my son had when we were in Lisbon.

We loved BA. We flew BA to Greece, very accommadating. We are flying BA this summer with our 6y,9y boys.

I advise purchasing a seat. Just take her carseat on the flight. I wouldn't my child to not be secure in case of a rough flight.

Bulkhead is great, although it is often saved for handicapped until you check in.

Take treats, new toys, and maybe a portable
DVD player if she watches TV. Just be sure to pack headphones for it. Not everyone wants to hear Elmo.

A baby backpack is great. It allowed us to navigate crowds better than in a stroller.

I have never flown Virgin Air, but it looks great too. The worst domestic US airlines we have taken is Northwest.

Any airline will work if you are prepared. Flight attendants do make such a difference indeed.

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Old May 18th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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It won't help with your flight needs but for other people it may be of interest and that is Gulf Air have introduced Sky Nannies to all their flights from London via Abu Dhabi to Sydney

These are English trained nannies who will look after your children during a flight with toys, feeding especially if you're wanting to sleep.

They have the details on their website www.gulfairco.com

So it'll be interesting to see if any other airlines adopt this service, I think probably not but who knows

Geordie
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Old May 18th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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We've had good experiences on Virgin and Scandinavian Air as well as BA. Both Virgin and Scandinavian have packs of things they give to children -- books, stickers, games, hats.

Last summer Virgin did not have our kids' meals and one wonderful flight attendent went out of her way to bring things our boys would eat from the crew cart. Good attendants and an effort to make friends with them goes a long way, and a good sense of humor!
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Old May 18th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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Thanks for all of your tips! I think we have decided on BA, economy plus. I hope the extra inches are worth the extra fee. I flew on BA pre-baby and was happy with the service. I will try the cold medicine (all three of us may need it) and we have considered buying a DVD player, even though we are trying to limit her TV exposure, at least at home. I also agree that snacks and new toys are an absolute must (is fifteen months to young for play-doh?) Yesterday, I panicked once it occurred to me what we are "really" getting ourselves into by flying internationally with a toddler (we took her on a plane once before and she slept the entire trip, but it was a short flight) So, I thought I should lock my daugher and myself in our itty-bitty bathroom with a few toys and snacks for ten hours and see how we both cope. I may change my name from mebe to mebecrazy.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 05:36 PM
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Mebe,
If you are flying BA, then skip the DVD player. BA has the video screen in the seatback and kid friendly shows(Disney, Cartoons). That will probably be enough to entertain her.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 06:19 PM
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>Is fifteen months to young for play-doh?<

Yes, unless you consider it a food group.

Don't necessarily abandon the take along DVD player. While you almost certainly won't need it on the flight, a couple of DVDs might pass the time travelling on the road or at night in hotel rooms. Something calming and familiar.

If you're considering the cold med's during the trip, absolutely do a preflight test run on something your pediatrician recommends.

Best of luck to you. Travelling with the toddler set is a challenge but it sounds like you're up for the adventure!
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Old May 18th, 2005, 06:32 PM
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go to website www.flyingwithkids.com
It has all the handy hints and you can go into each airline and they will tell you what each one offers.
Happy Travelling
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