Home Air Travel Alaska Airlines with Kids: Five things they’re getting right (IMHO)

Alaska Airlines with Kids: Five things they’re getting right (IMHO)

by Shelly Rivoli
Alaska Airlines with kids, flight returning from Kauai

Flying next to us is like a 5-hour party. Got snacks?

Alaska Airlines with Kids (IMHO): I hadn’t flown Alaska Airlines in quite some time, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found on our recent flight to Kauai (and no, they did not sponsor our travel or this post).

With so many rants about airlines, toddlers and their parents in the blogosphere (often earned, but rarely helpful), I thought it was worth pointing out what Alaska is doing right by travelers with toddlers and young children.

Maybe some of the other airlines will take note – but I’m sure those of you parents reading this will. (Tip: You might also like the recent post, Need to Know: Flying Alaska Airlines with a Baby or Toddler.)


1. Split family seating–resolved

Alaska Airlines, as I discovered in that cold sweat that comes every time you discover your family has been split between two or possibly three rows on the aircraft (with your three-year-old next to strangers), reserves two “family rows” in most flights to help ensure families with young kids stay seated together in case of last-minute seat shuffles.

A simple phone call to reconfirm my flight was all it took – they were able to group us back together again, saving my sanity and surely that of the folks who might have been seated next to parentless children on the 5-hour flight.


3. Onboard entertainment

Update 2019: Alaska’s fleet is still not widely equipped with in-seat TVs. However, Alaska does offer free in-flight streaming of popular TV shows and kids programming on your own electronic devices, and free wifi. Click here to read more about using the Gogo Entertainment App on Alaska Airlines flights.

And on Alaska Airlines flights over 3.5 hours, like flights to the Hawaiian Islands, you can rent “dig-e” digital in-flight entertainment players with over 75 movies and children’s programming built in. The cost for these is $10 per flight. Each dig-e player takes 2 headsets, so one is all it takes for 2 kids.


4. Kid-friendly food option for purchase

Food for purchase includes a surprisingly healthy (and pleasing to my extremely picky eater) Kids’ Choice snack basket for $6 on all flights over 1 hour. Pirate’s Booty, turkey snack stick, squeeze apple cinnamon applesauce pouch, organic strawberry yogurt & honey graham, fruit chews and… Wikki Stix!


5. Family preboarding–with car seats and CARES

Alaska Airlines still offers family preboarding—even before the rock star frequent flyerati, encouraging those who will lug their car seats or need to set up their CARES harnesses to get on board and get set up before the rest of the passengers fall into place. (Tip: See my recommended car seats for travel and the detailed review of the CARES flight safety harness.)

Who benefits most from this? Well, I don’t think you’ll hear any complaints from the aisle seat passenger who got whapped in the head by a passing car seat on his last flight.

best travel strollers and gear for travel with babies and toddlers

The icing on the cake:

Sure, these days most parents are happy just to be seated together with their children during domestic flights. The rest here is gravy. So how did they really hit a home run with this flying family? A round of free mai tais for the grown-ups and warm cookies for all before landing. “Aloha!”

Thanks, Alaska Airlines, for keeping kids (and their parents) in your sites. Keep up the good work!

Friendly Trip Planning Tip: When you have a choice, choose wisely! Remember the airlines comparison chart in  Travels with Baby to help find the most baby-friendly, toddler-friendly, and family-friendly airlines when choosing between carriers for your next big trip.

How about you?

Have you flown Alaska Airlines with kids? What’s your favorite airline to fly with your baby, toddler or little kids?

You might also like:

Need to Know: Flying Alaska Airlines with a Baby or Toddler

Flying with Car Seats: Seven Easy Ways to Get Your Car Seat to the Gate

Need to Know: Flying Southwest Airlines with a Baby or Toddler

Five things You Should Know Before Flying with a Car Seat

Need to Know: Flying American Airlines with a Baby or Toddler

Five Things You should Know Before Flying with an Airplane Bassinet

How to Plan Your Best Vacation with Baby

Five Great Travel Toys for Babies and Toddlers


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Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Head over to Family Travel 411

Curious about this content? See my editorial content disclosure.

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Switzerland travel July 11, 2012 - 12:56 am

I’ve always liked Alaska Airlines, they are just genuinely doing a good job and offering great services, I have had no problems with them so far.

gina romero June 28, 2012 - 4:25 pm

I agree that Alaska Airlines is the most family-friently airline. We had a HORRIBLE experience on a United Airlines flight at Christmas. They kicked my family off the plane because I requested an air sickness bag. I vowed never to fly with anyone but Alaska Airlines after that experience.

Shelly Rivoli July 1, 2012 - 8:53 am

Whoah! I am so sorry to hear that! I think it’s also amazing how differently flight attendants, even on the same plane, may approach family travelers depending on their own experiences–or lack thereof. That alone can certainly make things escalate when they might not otherwise. A little “sensitivity training” would go a long way with toddler travelers and autistic children, methinks! 😉

Christin June 27, 2012 - 2:25 pm

I saw this post and had to comment because I totally agree! Living on the West Coast, we tend to fly Alaska a lot. They have usually been really accommodating with us and our kid(s). They even handed out crayons and a Hawaiian themed coloring packet on our flight to Kauai in February, which kept my toddler busy for a while.

Shelly Rivoli June 28, 2012 - 10:08 am

Glad to hear it! We can always use more crayons during travel, eh?! 😉

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