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.
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?
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Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Head over to Family Travel 411