When it comes to flying, I don’t think I can consider myself a flight expert. But with a few international flights with kids under my belt, I think I have learned a few things or two over the years. As we plan a Summer trip to Thailand with our kids, I start to collect information and start planning. One of the first thing is to secure a ticket to fly back from the land of the free to the land of smiles.
Getting Cheap Tickets
There is a great article from Frugal Traveler on booking a flight the frugal way. What a perfect timing! So this post won’t be talking about how to score the cheap flight to Bangkok. Because quite frankly, I just use the Thai travel agent. I think they have provided the best price.
Things To Know Before Flying with Kids
Getting tickets is just the beginning of your trip. It’s something that I used to think that I can now relax and plan my itinerary on my destination and get to the airport with plenty of time to board my flight.
Oh.. How wrong was I!
There are a few things you must do before (way before) you trip to help ensure that you will have a smooth flight.
1. Sign up for that reservation notification – Flights DO change!
Once you have booked your tickets and received your reservation, go ahead and give them your information (email or phone) so they can contact you if there is any changes in your schedule. Trust me, you will want them to contact you. Or make it a schedule to check your reservation every other weeks to see if there is anything changes.
My recent trip to San Diego I didn’t know about the schedule change till it was closer to our departure date. By that time, I was too late to be able to assigned seats for us to sit together. I forked up a few more bucks for extra legroom so that at least one of us will sit with our kids.
And I just got off the phone with Delta to book myself and my kids on a new flight back from Narita to Atlanta. Why? Because the flight from Bangkok to Narita has new schedule and I will only have less than an hour for the connecting flight. Luckily, I received notification way before my travel date that we are able to get booked on the new flight and get a good pick of good seats.
2. Find the best seat and get it assigned
If you plan ahead and book your flight early, your chance of getting your seats together with your family and your kids is high. So don’t wait until the last minute. Go online and pull up your reservation to get the best seat you can get.
I didn’t know before checking their sites that on one of my flight half of the economy class will be equip with power outlet. Traveling with kids in this digital age, power outlet is like pure gold. So I wouldn’t have known that with our economy class ticket we will get the privilege to have such amenity!!! Needless to say, I go ahead and get our seat in the front section to secure myself a seat with outlet. Now, if I know how to find it on the plane.
3. Online check-in but double check your gate at the airport
With the airlines charge you from checking your bag to checking in at the counter, it’s probably one of a must do before you leave your house heading to the airport. Checking in online will not only save time but money when you fly with your kids. You don’t have to wait at the counter and can proceed directly to the gate.
But one travel tip based on my own mistake is to double check your gate at the airport before you start marching down the walkway. We did that before.. Trusting in the accuracy of the boarding pass in my hand, we headed to the wrong gate. Luckily, the new gate wasn’t too far from the original one.
However, when we travel internationally I still need to check in at the counter. Since we will be checking in our luggage.
4. Find Things to Do at Your Airport Beforehand
There is no doubt that half of your travel time will be spending at the airport. And if you have bad luck like us you might get stuck at the airport for longer than you want.
So before you head out, do a little research to check out if your airport for your connecting flight or your departure flight has any family-friendly facility. There are several resources that compile an extensive list of children play area in the airport in the US and major international cities. The most comprehensive one that I have found is the Kid Airport Diversion guide from Cheapflights. But make sure to double check with the airport website for more update information.