Are we there yet? The best airlines for flying with your family
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Qatar Airways announced the launch of their new children-focused Oryx Kids Club conference earlier this week, featuring appearances from the club mascots ‘Orry’ and ‘Orah’ the Oryx (main picture).
This got me thinking about which airlines offer the best flight experience to junior fliers. Here’s my rundown:
Cathay it is always a strong performer, and their support for passengers with children is no different. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon both have boredom crushing selection of family films and TV shows, Disney cartoons and anime for rug-rats. And airlines Fun Pack comes loaded with fun distractions such as writing and drawing materials, mini-games and activity books.
The only real drawback here is that the airline does not supply the fun pack for flights solely within Northeast and Southeast Asia. Food wise there is a decent selection of recognisable fare such as burgers, pasta, noodles and healthy snacks and fruit. The famous Cathay service is never more evident when it comes to kids and they are attentive kind and patient.
EVA is consistently one of my favourite airline. I have always had good experiences, none more so than when I flew the Taiwanese airline with my seven-year-old niece. Charming but capricious, she was instantly entertained by the library of age-appropriate movies and TV. Plus, any sign of discomfort was instantly noticed and snuffed out by the flight crew, who were able to pick up on the danger signals even before I did.
The airline’s striking Hello Kitty planes are not just a nice paint job either. Dedicated to the famous cartoon character, the Sanshiro theme appears everywhere on board. From the interior design, food and entertainment, the charismatic cat is even on the loo paper. What kid could resist that?
Qatar Airlines look serious about the ORYX Club, but if they really want to dominate kid friendly family travel, then Emirates‘ Fly With Me and Lonely Planet Kids are the ones to beat with an extensive range of Disney classics, including 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, Dumbo and Alice In Wonderland.
Kids’ tv channels (part of the practically endless 2500 TV channels available on board) and over 100 video games – all channelled through purpose-built junior headphones, keeping little ones from turning into little terrors on long flights.
If they get bored of screens then they can lose themselves in the Emirates travel bags, loaded with educational books, art and craft activities and a travel journal to record their adventures. Another nice touch is the free-to-use children’s buggies available to use during gate transfers, an absolute godsend for overburdened parents. Here’s the kicker: travelling with children on Emirates gives you an extra baggage allowance.
With their new Oryx Kids Club and Oryx Kids Loyalty Programme Qatar now offers children’s in-flight meal boxes and toys for kids on board.
With more than 4,000 entertainment options to choose from, Qatar Airways’ in-flight entertainment service, Oryx One, also features dedicated children’s channels such as Disney, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, Baraaem and Jeem, to keep youngsters happy throughout the flight.
Family-friendly films to be shown include My Little Pony: The Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie, The Boss Baby and a whole bunch of family classics.
Qatar Airways chief commercial officer, Mr. Ehab Amin, said at the launch: “Oryx Kids Club… offers the the opportunity to enjoy exceptional benefits while travelling with Qatar Airways. As an airline that is committed to welcoming children and families on board, Qatar Airways is thrilled about this new opportunity to interact with our passengers, from the moment they arrive at the airport.”
What I like about the Oryx club is the new frequent flier programme for children ages two-11. This enables youngsters will be able to sign up and earn Qmiles to spend on exclusive treats, offers and upgrades, which is awesome.
All Nippon Airways get a special mention. In addition to free toys, blow-up aeroplanes and activity books for every child on the plane; flying from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport promises an extra special treat – a Star Wars lounge (above).
Designed to complement their new Star Wars themed planes, R2-D2, BB-8 and C-3PO. The lounge is a safe play area, with a mini, cushion covered playground crammed with fun activities from games to picture books.
I love this attention to families and thire needs, after all if the kids are settled, rested and entertained before they board the plane then there is more chance for a chilled flight for them – and, more importantly, me.
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