Once upon a time, when service was a huge focus in airline travel and the skies were a touch friendlier, kids were treated like prized passengers. In addition to special meals, they received honorary pilot badges, model planes and other goodies to help them pass the time during air travel.
The skies, however, became less sunny in the following decades. When safety and profits became the focus of some carriers, special treats associated with the golden age of air travel all but vanished, like clouds themselves. Many carriers, however, heard the call in recent years and put in special efforts to once again make air travel magical for kids while making things easier on parents.
- Most airlines’ in-set entertainment systems, even in economy, have “family” and “just for kids” programming with a selection of games, movies and television shows. Others offer passengers access to apps that allow special programming to be downloaded onto iPods in advance. Cathay Pacific takes this further, having partnered with Brazilian app PlayKids to offer passenger families 30 days of free access to PlayKids Premium with a coupon code provided on purchase.
- Families looking to transform a 14-hour flight into family time can look to Air New Zealand and China Airlines, which sell “Family Couch” seating rows in their economy sections that convert to a flat sofa bed outfitted with specially designed safety belts, cushion protector, pillow, blanket and activity packs and toys for children.
- Hong Kong Airlines, currently in the process of landing U.S. hubs in Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO), offers exclusive and customized “Above and Beyond” services that include in-flight birthday parties with the cabin crew, a kid’s concierge and a “Happy Angel” program which provides a family a dedicated cabin crew member who proactively assists kids as they settle into their seats, and a traveling guide for parents to help guide their flight. There are also a few old school fun-in-flight items, including a travel journal activity book with colored pencils, games and activities, as well as journal space to chronicle their flight journey and a space for an autograph from the captain.
- Given Japan’s knack for conjuring up toys and games that become global pop culture phenomena, it should be no surprise Japan Airlines offers young passengers an interesting array of cool activity books and toys. However, on certain flights, JAL is known for its “AIR Series” in both the economy/premium-economy and business/first sectors that bring out the kid in every connoisseur and vice versa. While some economy/premium-economy menus are developed in collaboration with different prefecture tourism boards (such as “AIR Kumamon,” promotion spotlighting favorite foods of Kumamoto Prefecture), others bring treats from favorite restaurant chains such as MOS Burger and Yoshinoya. Kids traveling in business and First can enjoy a special “BEDD for Kids” menu devised by noted chef Chef Yosuke Suga.
- Of course, no discussion of kid-friendly flying over the Pacific would be complete without mentioning EVA Air’s partnership with Sanrio. Disneyland may be the happiest place on Earth, and Air New Zealand may have brought Middle Earth to the sky a few years back (as a vehicle for New Zealander Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies). However, EVA Air’s coveted Hello Kitty-themed flights remain the happiest place above earth. Though the Sanrio Family flights in the United States shifted to Chicago (ORD) after a run in Houston (IAH), Hello Kitty’s enchanted world continues to expand its fleet of fun with flights within Asia as well as collectable amenities.
With cooler weather and fall colors on its way, it’s time to plan your fall family travels. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort PA Wilds in Mansfield is the perfect destination, and with both scary and not-so-scary events, kids and parents alike can celebrate the festive season with trick-or-treating, fall crafts, fun with the Yogi Bear characters and more.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Oktoberfest is not all about beer. Although beer does play a major role, many of these German-themed fall festivals include activities fun for the whole family. You don’t need to travel to Munich to enjoy the oom-pah bands, lively dances, colorful Bavarian dress and traditional German foods; you can find them in almost all regions of the United States this October. Here are some good choices for families:
Rome is a city full of musts for visitors. You must visit the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps. And the list goes on, all the way down to trying gelato. No trip to Rome would be complete without the obligatory sweet treat, and for good reason. Gelato is delicious, refreshing and it comes in every flavor you can imagine. But while you can find it just about everywhere you turn in the Eternal City, it’s important to know not all gelatos are created equal. The city is brimming with fakes, and once you know how to tell the difference, not only will you see the fake stuff everywhere, but you will also refuse to settle for less than authentic.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Looking for a unique, fun and educational activity for the kids during your next family travels? Well, Kidzania has you covered. Located in Dallas, Texas, this city is not only built for kids but also run by kids. It’s unlike any other entertainment parks; in Kidzania, kids learn useful knowledge, skills and experiences, all while having the chance to be independent.