The Best & Worst Airlines for Family Travel

A new survey ranks 10 popular U.S. airlines by their family-friendliness. Does your experience match up?
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We know how much you dread flying with your kids (same for us!). There are just too many things that can go wrong and lead to a major airport meltdown. So we wanted to fill you in on a new report from The Points Guy that evaluated the 10 largest U.S. airlines based on 10 criteria that are important to families. The criteria included in-flight entertainment, early boarding, on-time arrivals, and mileage award availability for the whole fam. Each criteria made up 10 percent of the airline’s overall score.

Best airline: Southwest Airlines

The report credits Southwest’s policy of getting two checked bags per person for free (that’s at least $100 roundtrip on many other airlines), not charging a fee to change your flight, and offering reasonable mileage award options for the airline’s first-place finish.

Worst airline: Allegiant

Allegiant fell in last place because it lacked any in-flight entertainment, has pricey advance seat assignments, and doesn’t offer a frequent flyer program.  

We thought that the report’s comments about specific criteria were more useful than the overall rating since you could weigh the pros and cons for yourself. For instance, JetBlue (second overall) had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals—a win for everyone—while United Airlines (sixth overall) got kudos for having the best early boarding policy of kids ages 2 and under—something that’s only useful for parents of babies and young toddlers. The rankings of the other airlines are: Delta Airlines (third); Hawaiian Airlines (fourth); Alaskan Airlines (fifth); American Airlines (seventh); Frontier Airlines (eighth); and Sprint Airlines (ninth).

But let’s be honest, none of these airlines are really great for families. They all need to up their game to make caregivers traveling with kids of any age feel more comfortable and welcome. And they only have to look as far as their international counterparts for ideas—many of them offer discounts for kids’ seats as well as baby and child amenities. Gulf Air, which flies in Africa, Asia, and Europe, even employs a Sky Nanny! Now that would be a flight you could look forward to…

 


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