10 Things Parents Would Like From An Airline

My husband is a proud member of Cathay Pacific’s market research team. Every now and then they’ll seek his opinion on their new logo, what food he likes to eat onboard and whether the beds are comfy enough. He even got invited to ‘Cathay City’ (yes such a place exists), to test out their new first class offering.

Cathay Training Centre

The thing is, he is a regular business traveller and thus they are interested in his opinion.  I am of the economy class, often traveling as a solo parent with several rugrats in tow.  I tend to find airlines aren’t overly interested in the needs of the family passenger as we aren’t their biggest income source.  However, if they were to listen to me, this is what I would propose (disclaimer – I am trying to be realistic and not suggest that all families get allocated a nanny, build a dedicated kids zone at the back of the plane, check babies in the hold etc)

  1. If you have bassinets and bassinet seats available, allocate them to parents with babies.  There are only a few onboard.  Give them to parents with babies who need them!
  2. Please seat families together. I know I act like I don’t want to sit next to my 3-year-old but the reality is, she’s going to need me at some point during the flight and I don’t think it’s fair to allow a TOTAL RANDOM STRANGER TO LOOK AFTER HER. Airlines, listen up!  If I have booked for my family of 4 to travel together on the SAME ticket and my kids are clearly under the age of 5, seat us together please!
  3. How about pre-allocating those with young kids near the disabled toilet?  It is far easier to use for baby changing facilities.  Speaking of which, it would be great if you could provide wet wipes in the toilet!  Even just for passengers to wipe down the toilet, baby changing table etc.  You could even build a dispenser into the wall so that people like me don’t steal them.
  4. Allow all kids from age 2+ to join the airline loyalty scheme.  They are in a seat with a paid ticket, they should have the ability to collect airmiles.
  5. It’s very nice of some of you airlines to provide a kids activity pack. However, have you actually ever given it to a child to test out?  Some of the packs seem to be utterly useless with intricate games that need to be put together (see the Dragonair pack below).  Kids love stickers, a notebook and some crayons.  Cheap and easy to provide.
    Dragonair Kids Pack
  6. I have to admit you airlines are getting better at providing healthier kids meals. But some are still laden down with junk food. Surely it’s cheaper for you to provide a fruit salad or yoghurt for dessert than it is to dole out a mars bar?  I can’t be the only parent who’s also happy to forgo the sugary juice boxes – my kids are fine with just water thanks.  This Qantas Jetconnect meal is the perfect example of what parents want.
    Qantas Jetconnect kids meal
  7. On the food note – how about more healthy snacks are available for those airlines that provide ‘galley snacks’.  British Airways have a fantastic selection of fruit, cereal bars, healthy crisps.  Cathay Pacific and your pot noodles, not so much.
  8. How about lightweight booster seats for young kids?  If they’re safe enough to use in cars then why not on planes?  Perhaps impractical in terms of the amount of stock you’d need to carry onboard and keeping them clean but could be a nice option? Might even bring you some loyal fans?
  9. Kids headphones. I love it when airlines provide these.  A win for everybody as these will keep your small passengers entertained for longer.Cathay often give out kids headphones - keep them & reuse
  10. On the whole I’ve found the crew on the longhaul airlines I fly with regularly (BA, Virgin, Cathay Pacific) to be pretty good.  I understand the crew have a tough and busy job ahead of them. However, here’s what I would like, especially if you see me flying alone with baby/toddlers in tow.  Please don’t scowl at me.  Would love it if you can introduce yourself to me and inform me you can help with rinsing out any bottles and providing milk.  The cherry on the top if you offer to watch my baby/toddler so I can nip to the toilet.

There you have it airlines.  10 simple and easy requests for family travelers. If you’d like to use any of the money you’re saving from plunging oil prices to implement them, you are welcome.  If you’d rather continue to pimp up the upper class cabins, give my husband a call as he’d love to test out the pyjamas.




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  1. Zoe West

    I can’t believe +2 year olds aren’t entitled to join the air loyalty scheme, considering they are effectively in a paid seat. That must be rectified. I will demand it next time – think all parents should

    1. Nicola

      Some do allow you to join but others won’t. It should be a standardised ‘yes’ from all!

  2. angela hamilton

    I haven’t taken my children on a flight yet and I think thats more down to me being a nervous flyer!! When the time comes I think I will do my homework and see which airline offers the best experience for the family as a whole. Thanks for the blog post as it really has made me think!
    Angela x

    1. Nicola

      Hi Angela, good luck for your future travels

  3. Luke Mitchell

    This list is perfect as it stands exactly, but I’d make an addendum to the passengers as well. Most of you have children, please recall that they cry when they’re sleepy, or uncomfortable, and none of us like that constant pressure change on take-off or landing, or the unexpected bout of turbulence. Please don’t stare at us, point or complain to the flight attendants about the bad parents or the crying baby and recall your humanity.

    1. Nicola

      Absolutely! You were all children once!

  4. The Giggles Family

    Your so right with a lot of this! #MBPW

  5. Jenn Grahams

    Great post, Nicola! I’m a flight attendant for a U.S.-based carrier and I think a lot of these tips would help everyone out! I wish I had the power to pass on your suggestions. Sadly, as you mentioned, the reality is that airlines put their money toward the business class (aka: the money makers) and provide less and less for families in the Main Cabin. I don’t even have stickers or wings to pass out to the children. I do try to introduce myself to mothers though and when I see them heading for the lavatory with a baby, I’ll ask if I should drop down the changing table. I’m glad to hear that’s appreciated!

    1. Nicola

      Lovely to hear from you Jenn, hope I get to meet you on a flight someday!

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