My friend, Erin, flew Air Transat from Manchester Airport to Calgary, Canada this summer with her 2 year old and 9 month old. As an American living in the UK she flies long haul with her children quite a lot, and really rates Air Transat as a great choice for flying with a baby and a toddler. Find out why below.
It’s not hard to see why Air Transat won the Family Friendly Airline Award from the Kids First Fund in both 2011 and 2012. Their attention to their youngest passengers was impressive. I’ve flown long-haul flights with my children quite a few times, and I really wish every airline had these 10 simple, yet truly helpful policies and programs in place.
- 1. Kids Club Package
– Air Transat has a kids’ club for children ages 2-11 (for citizens of France, Canada or the UK only). It’s free to sign up online and they sent us a member’s kit package with two baggage tags, coupons for snacks on board, a postcard and a membership card for my two-year old Lily.
- 2. Free Seat Selection
– Children who are members of Air Transat Kid’s Club get free advanced seat selection. This does mean, of course, that adults have to pay for this service.
- 3. Family Check In
– For members of Air Transat Kid’s Club there are special check-in counters at most airports. There wasn’t at Manchester Airport, but we were able to use the Club Counter to check in instead.
- 4. Pre-Boarding for Families
– Passengers with young travellers board the plane early. I don’t know why every airline doesn’t do this. It not only makes things easier for families, but also it makes it easier for the rest of the passengers if the families have their bags and children all sorted before everyone rushes into the plane.
- 5. Child Meals Served Early
– Kids’ meals are served before adults’ meals. Simple but brilliant. This means your child doesn’t have to wait as long for food and you have a chance of eating your meal warm when it comes as the tots have already been fed.
- 6. Special Kids’ Meals
– On our return flight Lily got chicken nuggets and chips. Maybe not super healthy, but she liked it much more than the usual airline fare and I enjoyed eating what she didn’t finish.
- 7. Goody Bag for the Plane
– Another simple but brilliant idea. Every kid gets a bag with a few toys, a treat and headphones soon after boarding. Every parent knows the importance of novelty and it was really nice having a new toy to play with while we were taking off. I had packed a small arsenal of toys but we got to save those for later.
- 8. Entry into a Drawing for a Free Trip
– Air Transat Kid’s Club members are automatically (no need to remember to do it!) entered into a drawing every year for a free trip for four people. I’ll let you know how it goes if we happen to win!
- 9. Special Kids’ Website
– The Air Transat Kid’s Club site has information about Kids Club as well as games for the kids. The games were all too advanced for my 2-year old but it might be used to get older kids interested/prepared for a flight.
- 10. Priority Baggage Retrieval
– Special tags are placed on Air Transat Kid’s Club members’ bags at check-in so that the bags get priority treatment. To be honest, I’m not sure that our bags did get special treatment but they did seem to come out quickly. I didn’t realize this was an option so next time I’ll ask to make sure they are tagged correctly.
Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler on Air Transat
Make sure you bring your own adult headphones and blankets and pillows for the entire family or you’ll have to buy them on the plane. Meals are served but there are no snacks so make sure you bring enough if you don’t want to purchase them. Join the Air Transat Kid’s Club 30 days before you fly so that you get your coupons and membership card in time for your trip.
Air Transat flights can be booked through A Canadian Affair, a UK- Canada Tour Operator. Air Transtat offers up to 50 flights a week to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax from London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Dublin & Shannon.
Erin runs the super useful website Yorkshire Tots which contains loads of information about news and events in Yorkshire – check it out!