These eight airlines make sure time flies when little ones are flying.

By Marisa Garcia
August 03, 2015
Credit: Air New Zealand

Offering special accommodations, Junior VIP comforts, and even on-board childcare, these airlines provide welcome relief from the added stresses of traveling with children.

1) Air New Zealand’s Skycouches and Jet Cadets

Air New Zealand made long-haul flight more comfortable for parents and kids traveling together by introducing the Economy Skycouch seat. Convertible from seat to bed at the push of a button, this economy triple-seat leaves plenty of room to stretch out for naps. Because each seat converts independently, the Skycouch lets parents sit upright while the kids snooze. The airline also offers a Jet Cadets Kids Pack with fun activities to keep children entertained, and special in-flight meals designed to appeal to fussy eaters. Parents traveling with infants can also book bassinets ahead of time on the airline’s online bookings site.

2) Emirates Airlines Skysurfers and Fly With Me Monsters

Emirates Airlines has plenty happening on board to entertain children on its long flights. The airline’s Fly With Me Monster special in-flight magazine is complemented by collectible fuzzy toys, blankets, and Sketcher seatbelt critters that encourage little ones to comply with safety requirements. Older children can enjoy the airline’s Quicksilver wallets, travel journals, backpacks, cooler bags, storybooks, and eye masks. Emirates serves special children’s in-flight meals for kids ages 2-12, and offers baby food too. Its in-flight entertainment system is loaded with more than 60 children movies, 20 dedicated children’s television channels, and music selections curated to appeal to younger audiences. (Kids also get colorful headphones to enjoy their distractions.) The airline’s other family-friendly services include priority boarding for families, complimentary strollers at Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3, and dedicated play areas at the airline’s exclusive lounges. It even offers a Skysurfers frequent flyer program just for kids.

3) Etihad Airways Flying Nannies

Etihad’s Flying Nannies—dedicated flight crew who get special childcare training from renowned Norland College in the United Kingdom—are the Mary Poppins of air travel. These specialized flight attendants in bright-orange aprons accompany families from the gate to the seat to make boarding easier, help prepare bassinets, and keep children entertained with puppets, face painting, magic tricks, and arts and crafts for the duration of the flight. The service is free and available on all long-haul flights. Specially prepared nutritious and fun meals for kids are also on offer from Etihad, in addition to a bottle-warming service and a limited supply of baby food.

4) Asiana Airlines Magic Shows and Special Accommodations

Asiana Airways flight attendants help make sure time flies when little ones are flying. They stage magic shows and traditional costume shows, give cookie-baking classes, and engage children with face painting and other fun activities. The airline also accommodates the needs of family members across several generations. Its Pre-Mom service gives expectant mothers priority boarding and offers a golf-cart service to get to the gate. Moms-to-be also get customized amenities to relieve the discomfort of flying while pregnant. Passengers over the age of 70, female passengers traveling alone with two or more children under the age of seven, and youths traveling alone between ages 12 and 17 all qualify for special family care from airline staff.

5) Qantas’ Family Zones

Qantas Airlines gives its little passengers plenty of treats onboard to pass the time, including activity kits and dedicated children’s in-flight entertainment. But it’s the Family Zones at the airline’s domestic lounges that really stand out. Chic and colorful, these junior lounges are equipped with iMacs, Sony Playstations, children's furniture, toys, and books. Some of the airline’s Family Zones also serve child-friendly refreshments.

6) Virgin Atlantic Airways Infant Seats

Like other family-friendly airlines, Virgin Atlantic offers kids a special menu and age-appropriate entertainment. But the airline also pays particular attention to child safety and well-being. Its in-flight entertainment features parental controls (which flight crew are happy to help parents set up), and Virgin provides a special infant seat built to fit all of its seats onboard, regardless of cabin class. Parents who prefer to use their own car seats when they travel should check the airline’s website for compatibility.

7) EVA Airways Hello Kitty Jets

Sanrio’s iconic characters are everywhere when you’re flying EVA Airways’ Hello Kitty jets (a.k.a. the cutest aircraft in the skies). From the cabin interiors (Hello Kitty pillows!) and in-flight amenities (Hello Kitty toilet paper!) to safety features (Hello Kitty evacuation instructions!) and even the in-flight food (HELLO KITTY–SHAPED CHEESE AND FRUIT), every element of travel has been Kitty-fied. The Hello Kitty 777 and A333 fly to select cities around the world, including a very popular Paris service. A Taipei-Houston nonstop flight launched earlier this year and, to celebrate, EVA Airways commissioned a special “Shining Star” Boeing 777-300ER, with 39 Royal Laurel Class business seats, 56 Elite premium economy seats, 238 economy seats, and—most importantly—a lively painted livery with a “Texas-sized” Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters. Passengers of all ages will find Wi-Fi, in-flight entertainment, and SMS mobile connections on board so they can share their Hello Kitty flying experience with friends.

8) JetBlue Kid-Friendly Flying

When it comes to its youngest passengers, JetBlue focuses on fun and convenience. In addition to pre-boarding for families traveling with children under two, the airline’s popular in-flight entertainment offers Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, and Animal Planet among the 36 channels of free DIRECTV® on its flights. (There’s also at least one child-appropriate movie offered on flights over two hours.) Children get unlimited juice and free snacks (so you can keep those blue potato chips coming!), and more nourishing EatUp boxes are available for purchase. JetBlue also collaborates with Soar with Reading and PBS KIDS, offering free reading activities that parents can print out before heading to the airport.