Seven-month-old Evan Witkowski relaxes while his parents Brian and Kate check in for their flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in November. Even in an era of service cutbacks, some airlines still provide niceties for families traveling with young children. But few of those carriers are U.S.-based.
(Photo: Scott Olson Getty Images)
Jayne Clark, USA TODAY
Back in the day when flight attendants were called stewardesses, they used to hand out promotional items to young fliers - pilot's wing pins, decks of cards, that sort of thing. The trinkets helped keep the little ones amused and built brand loyalty.
So in an era when you're lucky to get a free Coke with what passes for in-flight service, we were surprised to learn that some airlines still offer perks to pint-sized customers. The following list comes courtesy of Warren Chang, general manager of Fly.com, an airfare aggregation site.
Unfortunately, among carriers listed here, only one, JetBlue, is U.S.-based.
- JetBlue offers a reading activity kit developed with PBS Kids.
- El Al Airlines goes all out with activity books for kids; special children's meals at no extra charge on flights between New York and Israel; summer and holiday discounted fares for children traveling with two adults; and, also in summer and during holidays, an onboard clown who performs magic tricks and skits.
- German carrier Air Berlin provides first-row cots on flights of 90 minutes or more and supplies bags with diapers, baby bottles and bibs. On long flights, the in-flight entertainment system includes cartoons and audio programs, and special children's meals are served free of charge.
- The United Arab Emirates national airline, Etihad, offers passengers in first and business classes lounges in a number of its airports (Abu Dhabi, London, Dublin and Manchester, England) special family rooms. In the Abu Dhabi lounges, nannies take care of the kids.
Gulf Air, Bahrain's flag carrier, does Etihad one better by offering a free Sky Nanny service.
Virgin Atlantic dispenses backpacks to kids that contain a book, a Virgin Atlantic baseball cap, a digital watch, candy and a coloring pen. There's also kid-dedicated entertainment programming on board.