Heathrow is Now the Most Family Friendly European Airport . . . After Being the Least

srv007, Flickr

Rethink your travel plans families: if you’re adventuring with children, the best airport you can travel to, from and through in Europe is London Heathrow.

That’s a big deal if you consider the fact that only last year it was ranked as the worst.

The rankings come via Skyscanner, which did a study focusing on families with children under 4 years old and looked at travel from June to September 2013.Thirty five European family travel experts and travel bloggers judged 20 different airports based upon their baby-changing facilities, security levels and food options, as well as the general check-in process. We all know how a long line can affect a tired child.

According to Skift, here are the top 10 family-friendly airports across Europe:

1. London Heathrow
2. Zurich and Vienna
3. Dusseldorf
4. Madrid-Barajas
5. Munich and Frankfurt
6. London Gatwick
7. Moscow Sheremetyevo
8. Paris Charles de Gaulle
9. Oslo
10. Copenhagen

But not everyone loves a child-friendly space. Some airlines are even offering kid-free zones on-board for those trying to avoid the younger crowd. Ultimately, it all goes to show that traveling with children is becoming more and more the norm, whether you like it or not.

How Much Would You Pay to Fly in a Kid-Free ‘Quiet Zone?’

jyri, Flickr

Would you pay to fly without children? Singapore-based budget carrier Scoot thinks passengers will fork over some extra cash in order to sit in a special “quiet zone” where there are no babies on board. For about $14.50 extra, passengers will find themselves in the 41-seat adults-only area, which spans rows 21 to 25 of the fleet’s aircraft.

But sitting outside of earshot of children under 12 isn’t the only benefit. This area also has more legroom than other sections of the plane and a 35-inch seat pitch — about four more inches than in regular economy seats. More room and less noise? This might be a fee that’s actually worth some extra cash.

Last year, Malaysia Airlines banned infants from some first-class planes after receiving complaints about noisy children. Meg Nesterov, Gadling’s resident baby travel expert and Knocked Up Abroad columnist, weighed in on the issue.

What Are The Rules For Breastfeeding On A Plane?

It has happened yet again: a mother breastfeeding on a plane was allegedly treated poorly by an airline staff member. The mother was breastfeeding on an American Airlines flight last month while sitting in a window seat next to her husband. Since American Airlines has publicly stated that breastfeeding is allowed on their flights during all stages of flight and that flight attendants should not place restrictions or requirements on breastfeeding mothers, the mother felt free to breastfeed. However, a disgruntled flight attendant requested that she cover up, citing that there were kids present on the plane at the time.

The couple refused and the flight attendant later returned to their aisle, telling a girl seated in the aisle next to the husband that her seat was going to be changed, projecting that the girl was uncomfortable despite the fact that the girl hadn’t complained about the breastfeeding. According to the couple, the flight attendant did not offer service to the couple for the remainder of the flight.

American Airlines responded to the complaint filed by the mother in a letter that was posted to Facebook by a friend of the mother. American Airlines stated in the letter that they believe it is reasonable to request that a mother cover up and that breastfeeding be conducted with modesty and discretion, despite the fact that the manual states that mothers should be able to breastfeed without restriction or requirement and the fact that 45 states allow mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location.

United Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and others have stated that breastfeeding is not prohibited while on the plane. Whether a breastfeeding mother should be required to cover up, however, seems more ambiguous. What are your thoughts on requiring or requesting that breastfeeding mothers cover up?

The Issue of Breastfeeding in Public

Travel Advice For The Royal Baby (And His Parents)

family travel advice for the royal baby
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

Royal watchers greeted the new prince this week with pomp, circumstance and silly hotel packages. Prince George Alexander Louis’ first trip will likely be to his mother’s hometown of Bucklebury, about an hour west of London, or to visit his grandparents on their annual holiday in Scotland. As Gadling’s de facto baby travel expert, with 50+ flights and 14 countries under my belt with my (now) two-year-old, I’d like to offer some family travel tips, with some special considerations for the future king:

1. Take big trips early: The first six months are the easiest time to travel, before the baby’s mobile and while they still sleep round the clock. As a tot, jet lag is easy to manage when you nap every other hour, and entertainment is easy to find anywhere when you are mesmerized by your own toes. The new parents might aim to take Prince George to visit his subjects in Canada in early October, once they’ve gotten the hang of his schedule and before the fall weather turns cold, or perhaps down to Australia during the spring shoulder season.2. Learn some local baby talk: Traveling with a baby is a great way to talk to locals, share common experiences, get help and recommendations and (possibly unwanted) parenting advice. When traveling to a country with a foreign language, knowing a few commonly asked questions and answers will go a long way in making connections. The people’s prince will be undoubtedly be popular anywhere he goes, so learn how to answer “How old is he?,” “What is his name?” and “Where is he in line to the throne?”

3. Check out of hotels: With a baby in tow, a kitchen and a washing machine make more attractive amenities than a hotel bar or concierge. Renting an apartment or house makes sense for a family, giving you extra room for the baby to sleep while the parents stay up, and a place to prepare bottles and baby food. Surely the Duke and Duchess have some castle time-sharing agreement to stay local? You might miss the service of a hotel, but if you are traveling with your own royal butler, it’ll still feel like a relaxing vacation.

4. Not all airlines are created baby-friendly: Air travel has gotten more stressful and uncomfortable for all of us, especially when you are terrified that you’ll be the one with the screaming infant. Some airlines do offer a few ways to make the experience more pleasant for you and your lap child. JetBlue still offers early boarding for families and a free checked bag (a lifesaver when you are toting a baby with your carry-on), and Emirates offers a baby kit with supplies for young children. Staying loyal to the UK carriers, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have free baby bassinets, special meals, and entertainment for kids. Even if you are flying by royal private jet, there are still ways to make flying with a baby go smoothly.

5. Don’t rush the kid stuff: Many parents think that travel with a baby means finding specially-tailored activities and kid-friendly destinations right away, but hold off on Disney — it’ll be years before they can appreciate it. Look instead for places that I call baby-friendly, with plenty of things for Mum and Dad to enjoy: a trip to Sicily where His Highness will be cooed over by Italian grandmothers while you, Catherine and William, sip wine on a piazza and take in museums too “boring” for a child, or a second honeymoon to the Seychelles.

Is Your Family Vacation Normal? New Survey Highlights Summer Travel Behaviors

family travel airport
Flickr, Kevin Shorter

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, summer family travel is in full swing. A new survey from Liberty Travel highlights several overarching trends (everyone loves technology, but being together is always the most important part of a trip) along with budgeting and planning information.

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite results below. We’d love to have you weigh in in the comments, too. Are you normal when it comes to family travel?

Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents say that they take at least one vacation a year, and the planning process begins between three and nine months out. Travel agents aren’t a thing of the past, either – 69 percent have used an agent to plan a family vacation.

Families aren’t just going on weekend getaways; 51 percent of respondents go away for seven or more days and 44 percent go for six days. Of course, most (65 percent) wish they could stay longer.

Here’s what else families talked about:

Low-tech, high togetherness
It is no secret that technology, from iPads to gaming systems, can often get in the way of togetherness. Vacations, however, seem to be an exception as nearly 58 percent of respondents said children use technology much less than when they are at home (27.49 percent) or only in transit (plane, car, etc.) to the destination (30.24 percent). Very small percentages reported going tech-free (6 percent) or kids are glued to something the entire time (1 percent), with the remainder reporting the same usage (or not having children).

Let’s give them something to talk about
It’s no surprise that over 52 percent of travelers said they find themselves talking to one another more when on vacation. Approximately 45 percent of respondents said they talk about the same amount and less than 2 percent find themselves talking less. We hope that means that they’re deeply engrossed in a book and is not a sign of family discord!

In-Laws are not the out-laws
In-laws often get a bad rap, but the reality according to the survey results is that (most) in-laws are welcome along for the ride. Nearly 35 percent said “the more the merrier,” 41 percent said “sure; we need to have some alone time and ideally rooms on different floors,” with 24 percent opting for the in-laws “vacationing in a different country, preferably on a different continent.” The later option is kind of sad, don’t you think?

Who calls the shots
Overwhelmingly, it seems that parents can agree on one thing: where to vacation. Over 51 percent of parents report that both parents decide where to go. Coming in next was mom calling the shots (31 percent) with dad trailing far behind at just over 5 percent. Just under 3 percent say the kids decide, while just over 3 percent can’t remember who picked the place because they have been going to the same spot year after year.

What do you think, readers? Do you like vacationing as a family, and do you agree with the survey results? Furthermore, are you planning to go somewhere for the upcoming holiday, or will you stay local?