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Planes, boats and trains
General advice
Essential information
Airlines: what they offer
Trains
Ferries

General advice

The sort of child-friendly services airlines offer can include designated flight attendants to care for families, play-packs, organic babyfoods, special pre-cut toddler meals, children's in-flight entertainment channels and pre-allocated seats. Charter flights may be generally cheaper and for some destinations may even be more convenient. The problem is that the later in the day you fly, the more likely you are to be delayed. Scheduled flights are more expensive for a reason. They always retain their precedence in the takeoff order.

Essential information

For the latest information regarding air travel after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, click here

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Tips

*Before booking, call different airlines to find out exactly what they can offer. For babies under six months, airlines can generally supply a bassinet skycot to enable them to lie flat. Some airlines can supply nappies and food (some, can provide organic baby food if requested in advance).

*Try to book your seat in advance and request a cot (it's wise to ask for a written confirmation). Failing that, make you sure you arrive at the airport in good time so there's more chance of getting the best seats available. Ask for aisle seats or any with more leg room.

*If you're travelling as part of a package, tour operators will occasionally pre book seats for you. Check with individual operators what their policy is. JMC and VIRGIN offer this on many routes.

*Cots are available on some airlines. Virgin has sky cots for babies up to 12 months, British Airways and Britannia Airways have cots for babies up to 6 months. British Airways can also provide seats for under-2s on some of its long-haul flights (tel 0345 222111 for details)

*You can hold on to your buggy until just before you step onto the aircraft when it will be put straight into the hold. If your child is still asleep after landing, it's worth asking a flight attendant if they are able to retrieve your buggy there and then, rather than having to wait until the baggage carousel.

*Find out what facilities individual airports offer. Vienna airport (11 miles east of the city), for example, as well as being equipped with copious restaurants, banks and other facilities, also has a nursery. In the UK, Gatwick has a number of play areas in departure lounges, while the viewing flight deck is an excellent way of keeping babies and toddlers entertained. Gatwick also has babychanging rooms equipped with machines selling nappies and other equipment. There are also bottle warming facilities. At Heathrow, toilets incorporate babychanging facilities and restaurants are generally happy to warm food and bottles. Stansted generally seems less congested that Gatwick or Heathrow, with more space for young children to toddle off excess energy.

*Flight attendants are usually happy to warm food and bottles. There may also be access to boiled water but take a flask just in case. Ensure speedy access to drinks (lollipops if you're feeling lax!) on take-off and landing to offset pain caused by ears popping (breastfeeding, bottles, drinks with straws).

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Airlines: what they offer

Virgin Atlantic
  • Automatic bulkhead seat reservations are allocated to parents when bassinet is booked. These can be used up to 12 months. Virgin provides car seats for children aged 6 months to 3 years who have their own seat.
  • Virgin has seat back TV screens for all classes with loads of different entertainment channels and films over which you have plenty of control. This is an excellent distraction for toddlers (and adults) and a really BIG plus.
  • Baby food is available together with nappies and other essentials.
  • Under-2s are charged approximately 10% of the adult fare. If you want an additional seat for them, this costs around 60% of the adult fare.
  • Over-2s must have their own seats

Reservations: 01293 747 747

Web: www.virgin-atlantic.com


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British Airways
  • Offers bassinets for babies up to six months or 8 kilos. Parents are also booked into bulkhead seats for long-haul flights. British Airways has also introduced the first airline seat for under-2s at no extra charge, on some of its long-haul flights (tel: 0345 222111 for details).
  • Baby food can be requested if you let them know before you fly (requires at least 3 days notice).
  • Despite under-2s travelling for a minimal cost on most flights, you must let the airline know they are accompanying you. Prices vary on different flights on short routes. There is a 10% charge on long-haul flights and some longer European flights.
  • Children 2-12 years pay 67% of adult fare.

Reservations: 0845-7222 111

Web: www.britishairways.com


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Air Malta

Extremely child-friendly airline: they let you board well in advance of all other passengers, move you to be together/at the front if they can, and hand out cute little mouse puppets which work distraction wonders. They unload your buggy as soon as you get off without even being asked.

www.airmalta.com

Reservations: 356 690890 229990

Sales: kmsales@airmalta.com.mt

Information: info@airmalta.com.mt


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Go Airlines

Reservations: 0845 605 4321

Web: www.go-fly.com


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United Airlines
  • Bassinets available for babies up to 6 months
  • Baby and toddler meals available, if you give them least 36 hours notice.
  • Under-2s pay 10% of adult fare.
  • Children 2-12 years play 67% of adult fare.

Reservations: 0845 844 4777

Web: www.ual.co.uk


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American Airlines
  • Bassinets available for babies up to 6 months/8 kilos.
  • Does not supply babyfood or nappies.
  • Under-2s pay 10% charge for bassinet or on your lap.
  • Children 2-12 years are offered discounted tickets, varying from flight to flight.

Reservations: 08457789 789

Web: www.americanairlines.com


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Lufthansa
  • Bassinets available for babies up to 8 months and less than 84 centimetres in length.
  • Baby food is generally available with notice.
  • Under-2s pay 10% of adult fare on your lap.
  • Children 2-12 years receive 33% discount.

Reservations: 0845 7737 747

Web: www.lufthansa.co.uk


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Air France
  • Bassinets available for babies up to 8 months.
  • Baby food and toddlers' meals available to order, with sufficient notice.
  • Under-2s generally play 10% of adult fare but this depends on length of flight.
  • Children 2-12 years play around 67% of an adult fare.

Reservations: 0845 0845 222

Web: www.airfrance.co.uk


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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Bassinets available for babies up to 8 months/9 kilos and less than 65cm in length. Sleeping bags can be supplied for children up to a year old.
  • Baby and toddler meals, plus formula milk and other baby snacks, with at least 48 hours notice.
  • Under-2s pay 10% of adult fare or £30, whichever is more.
  • Over-2s - will find out what this is and let you know.

Reservations: 08705 074074

Web: www.klm.com


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Swiss Air
  • Bassinets available for babies up to 8 months.
  • Baby meals guaranteed for children booked on the flight.
  • Under-2s play 10% of the adult fare.
  • Children 2-12 pay 65% of the adult fare.

Reservations: 0845 758 1333

Web: www.swissair.co.uk

 


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Trains:

Trains can be far more relaxing with young children than cars (you can give them your full attention), or flying as you're not in such a confined space. Also trains arrive in city centres more often than not, cutting down journey from airport to hotel for example.

Eurostar staff are generally reported to be most helpful, assisting parents on and off the trains with buggies and luggage as well as down escalators.

There are also babychanging facilities on trains and staff in the buffet car will happily heat bottles. Babies travel free Eurostar (0990 186186)

Call the train company to let them know that you are travelling with a baby and hopefully they will book you into a compartment near the buffet, the disabled toilet and corridors where you can leave your buggy.

When travelling in Europe ask a conductor in plenty of time where non-smoking end of train is so that you can park yourself by that section before boarding.

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Ferries:

Ferries offer space for the little ones to wander round and, on some lines, play areas and videos too.

Minimise sea sickness by non-greasy food on the day - no chocolate, although mints may help distract some toddlers from their nausea. Fresh air helps so bring warm coats if you want to stay on deck.

Do reserve seats if going by train - although you don't pay for under-fives you may be able to book them seats for a nominal sum.

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