Choosing an airline is something not many of us spend too much time on.
Usually, we fly whatever is cheapest, or whatever we can use our miles towards. I know that I usually just go for the cheapest tickets that will take me wherever I need to go. But this is isn’t always the best strategy when you fly with the family.
There is a huge difference between what airlines offer kids families. Consider entertainment, food, seat comfort and layovers when you do your decision making. A good number of the main airlines in the USA still don’t offer personal seatback screens on their flights – amazing but true. I’ve found this to be the difference between a smooth happy flight with kids and a potential flight from hell. Especially when young kids are concerned. Just in the past few months I have flown to Europe with one of my kids on United (no seat back screens) and to Latin America with American (no seat back screens). Luckily my kids are very experienced travelers, but for many parents out there, I’d say, pay a bit more if you need to and fly with a carrier offering what is typically the standard solution to happy family flying.
If you are unfamiliar with any carrier that you see a price for, check out Skytrax. Skytrax ranks airlines and you can read plenty of reviews posted by regular travelers. Earlier this year while planning for our trip to Myanmar, I checked out the difference between one of the major Chinese carriers and Asiana Airlines from Korea. Asiana was more expensive by about $100 a ticket on this particular trip. Both had lengthy layovers. I soon learned that Asiana was a 5 star rated airline (one of very few in the world) and the reviews were excellent. The reviews for the other airline were generally very poor. We decided to fly Asiana and had an excellent experience. A friend of mine flew through Shanghai with her family and their trip was terrible – they had not been informed that in order to exit the transit room they would need visas for China, so visa-less, they had to spend about 10 hours cooped-up in a small holding room. A disaster for a parent with small kids. We on the other hand enjoyed a day exploring Seoul.
So, if you are planning a real long distance trip, I suggest you do your homework on your options. If the money difference is manageable, you’ll be doing yourself favor.