These family friendly airlines make it easier to travel with children without losing your sanity.
Trying to keep children entertained is a monumental task and it’s taken to a whole other level when you have to do so in a cramped seat 30,000 feet in the air.
But fear not parents! Travelling with children doesn’t have to be a stressful affair. With careful preparation (both mental and physical), you can ensure that your little ones stay happy and you maintain your sanity upon arrival to your destination.
Child-friendly offerings on international airlines can range from generous to non-existent. In-flight entertainment, kid-friendly meals, activity packs and boarding priority can make a huge difference when it comes to family travel. Keep reading to find out which airlines are the most family friendly.
Some of the benefits offered by airlines for children:
- Child discounts: Children below 2 years of age, or infants who are not occupying a paid seat, only have to pay 10% of the full adult fare on most airlines.
The child will have to be on the lap of a passenger older than 15 years for the duration of the flight.
- Pre-boarding and pre-seating privileges: Families travelling with small children greatly benefit from pre-boarding and pre-seating privileges but most airlines do not offer this service anymore. You can, however, pay a small fee for priority boarding or request special assistance when you check in.
- Checked baggage allowance: Most airlines offer children the same checked baggage allowance as adults. Infants not occupying a seat have a smaller allowance, usually around 10kg, that includes items such as a stroller, car seat or a fold-up cot.
- Allows strollers onboard: All airlines require you to check in larger styles of stroller. A collapsible stroller that can be stowed in the overhead locker will usually be allowed on board.
- Child amenities (baby wipes etc): The bigger aircrafts have infant change tables in the washrooms. Some airlines also carry a limited amount of baby food, formula and disposable diapers on board but you are encouraged to bring your own.
- Free in-flight kids’ entertainment: TV programs, games and music for all ages are available on both domestic and international flights. Some in-flight entertainment systems also have a parental lock feature. Complimentary activity kits are available onboard or can be purchased from most airlines.
- Guaranteed bassinet: Bassinets are limited on all airlines. It is advised that you request one at the time of booking. If your infant is too large for the bassinet, they will have to travel on your lap or have a seat of their own.
- Children's meals: Full-service airlines have dedicated meals for children and infants. Pre-booking these meals is essential and you should also notify the airline of any special dietary needs when you book. The crew will prepare, heat and wash milk bottles when needed.
- Free kids gifts: Some airlines offer complimentary kids packs with a wide range of activities and entertainment to keep the young ones occupied.
Best child-friendly airlines compared | Airlines and their child-friendly benefits
|Child discount||Pre-boarding / seating||Checked baggage allowance||Strollers allowed on-board||Infant change tables available||In-flight kids’ entertainment||Guaranteed bassinet||Child meals available||Free kids’ gifts|
|Jetstar||Children under 2 years pay $30 (domestic flights and trans-Tasman flights).|
Children under 2 years pay $50 on international flights
Child fares available for kids 2-11
|N||N||Y||Select aircrafts only||Y||N||N||N|
|Qantas||Children under 2 years pay 10% of the full fare||Y||No baggage for children under 2.Children paying the 50% child fee are entitled to adult checked allowance||Y||Selected aircrafts(Family lounge available at club certain lounges)||Y||Pre-booking required||Y||Y|
|Tigerair||Children below 2 years pay $30||No, but you can pay extra for Queue Jump||One piece of infant equipment may be checked||Y||N||Y||No||Y||N|
|Virgin Australia||Children under 2 years pay 10% of the full fare||No, but children 5-11 years travelling alone can use the Priority Check-in||One piece of infant equipment may be checked||Y||Select aircrafts||Yes||Pre-booking required||Y||N|
|Rex||Children under 2 years travel free on an adult’s lap||Passenger assistance must be requested||10kg for infants not occupying their own seat||N||N||N||N||N||Y|
|Air New Zealand||Children under 2 years travel free on an adult's lap for domestic flights or 10% of full fare for international flights||No, choose Preferred Seating for priority boarding||Seated children are entitled to the baggage allowance of the seat purchased||Y||Select aircrafts||Y||Pre-booking required||Y||N|
Top 6 airlines for children and infants in Australia and New Zealand
1. Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand pays careful attention to families travelling with children, including spacious economy seats and rewards for young frequent flyers.
- The Economy Skycouch seat converts from a seat to a bed - perfect for a bit of extra room when travelling with children
- Complimentary kids' pack available for children
- Special wristbands for young travellers which send updates to parents at every checkpoint offer peace of mind
Qantas partnered with Nickelodeon for a range of services and in-flight activities that keep grown ups sane and kids occupied from takeoff to landing.
- Family Zones at selected Qantas lounges allow mum and dad to relax while the kids play before boarding their flight
- Complimentary kids kits with exciting activities to keep them occupied during the flight
- Dedicated Kids Zone with a parental lock on in-flight entertainment
3. Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia’s Family Benefits Program makes it easier and more rewarding to travel with the family.
- Family Benefits program guarantees an annual family trip and access to a family friendly lounge before boarding
- Infant- and child-friendly meals are available through the pre-booking service
- Children flying alone are taken care of by the cabin crew for the duration of the flight
Tigerair is a low-cost carrier that flies on both domestic and international routes and is great for a family travelling on a budget.
- Great travel deals to both domestic and international destinations
- Queue Jump option that’s available at an additional cost makes boarding with children easier
- Kid-friendly meals available on board with pre-booking
Jetstar is an Australian budget airline that flies to over 75 destinations worldwide and has some of the lowest fares in town.
- Children travelling alone are assigned an Accompanying Passenger
- Kid-friendly meals and entertainment are available onboard
- Prams, strollers and car seats are free, in addition to checked baggage allowance
Based in Mascot NSW, Rex offers great savings for families travelling on regional flights.
- Friendly and helpful cabin crew
- Rex lounges are available at selected airports and are accessible with an annual membership
- Complimentary snacks and beverages on short flights
Frequently asked questions
Which airline is best for a child travelling alone?
Air New Zealand provides an Airband to every child travelling alone on both domestic (USD10 one way) and international flights (USD30 one way). This wrist band sends text message updates to their parent or guardian when they are checked in, boarding the plane, landing and also when they are picked up by a designated person at their destination. Cabin crew also ensure that the child is escorted through the departure and arrival gates and supervised during the flight.
What are the airline rules and regulations for infants?
An infant is defined as any child under 2 years of age. They must travel with a parent or with an adult who is 18 years or older. Some airlines might not accept infants below a certain age without medical clearance. If you are travelling with more than one infant, the second must have an allocated seat or be in an approved car seat, which you must provide.
Which is the best airline for children’s fares?
Children that are below the age of 2 years and are travelling in the lap of an adult pay 10% of the full adult fare for most airlines. Check the airline’s website for specific details of child fares and any special discounts.
What is the airline baby bassinet weight limit?
The shapes and sizes of bassinets vary between airlines and aircraft models. While most airlines have a weight limit of 11kg, it is best to check that the bassinet fits the individual airline’s requirements prior to booking.