The days of a young traveler getting a set of wings and a tour of the cockpit may be a thing of the past, but that doesn't mean that travel can't be fun for tots. Armed with seatback entertainment systems, backpacks filled with goodies, and crew members prepared for pint-size flyers, several airlines are going out of their way to make travel fun for kids (and enjoyable for their parents) these days. From those that supply baby food to those that will have a birthday cake ready for your tot's big day, here are 10 airlines for families on the fly!
I'm sure many of you have had to deal with canceling trips in the past. Perhaps you were a little too eager when planning a trip and rushed ahead to purchase tickets and nights at a hotel without giving it careful thought. Or maybe something came up, and you were no longer able to travel. It's definitely a bummer canceling your travel plans, not to mention a hassle and a waste of time and money. Canceling your trip doesn't always mean heavy cancellation fees. Here are a few ways to avoid paying those annoying penalties:
For plane tickets
- Pick the right airline. Opt to pick airlines that have a more lenient change or cancellation policy. Southwest is your best bet, as the airline will let you change your flights without incurring fees.
- Cancel within 24 hours. There's a new rule (that all airlines have to adhere to) that lets you get all of your money back if you cancel within 24 hours of your booking. The flight also needs to be at least seven days from the time of booking to qualify.
- Get refundable fares. If there is a very high chance of your trip falling through, perhaps you should consider getting a refundable fare. Those will obviously be higher priced, but if the cancellation fee will cost more than the difference between a coach ticket and a refundable fare ticket, you might want to get the latter.
For hotel stays
- Change the date of your hotel stay. I found this neat little tip on Lifehacker: postpone your arrival date by a few days so you won't get hit with a cancellation fee if you're planning on canceling in less than 24 hours. It's advisable to wait at least a day before canceling, rather than canceling it right away, to make it less obvious.
- Talk directly to the hotel. Most of the time, talking to the hotels directly works a lot better than the official hotline of a hotel chain. I've gotten away with penalty-free cancellations, so just talk to the manager of the hotel and let them know your situation. Read my tips on how to talk your way into getting anything you want.
Remember, if you're canceling your trip because of work-related reasons, you can always try asking your employer to expense the cancellation fees on your behalf.
Source: Flickr User Atli Harðarson
It's so hard to figure out how to buy your plane ticket these days, with no right or wrong answer. Business Insider shares a unique way some experts score the best deals.
Travel has gotten insanely expensive, so when a blogger tipped us off to a site called The Flight Deal, we were eager to learn what they're up to.
Rather than round up a bunch of cheap deals, the site goes much further by providing tips and tricks for maximizing and redeeming frequent flier miles and rewards points.
What's more, they only highlight fares that meet one quirky criteria (emphasis ours): all deals cost 6 cents per mile. Curious as to how this golden rule came about, we emailed the team to learn more.
"We looked at routes and fares we flew regularly, such as New York to San Francisco/Los Angeles," they told Business Insider. "At 6 cents per mile, it would cost about $300 to fly to either destination. At 8 cents, it's closer to $400. If you look at the trend for these routes, $300 and under is the sweet spot, so to speak."
The other reason they like this criteria is that it works like a rebate.
"Let's say you want to go to Europe from the United States. It takes 60,000 frequent flier miles with most carriers," they said. "Using 6 cents per mile as a guide, you would need to spend at most $3,600 to acquire those miles. With Europe fares from the US hovering around $1,000 for most destinations, you would effectively get a 28-percent rebate for your money spent. No other form of rewards give this much back!"
Beyond the 6 cent rule, the Flight Deal team chooses flights based on the fare, not the destination.
"Yes, we publish great deals, but we don't want [our readers] to be fixated on a destination. Chase the fare, not the destination," they said. "We have gone to some awesome places that we wouldn’t have normally visited — like Lima for $270 or Stockholm for $150. The world is vast, so go explore."
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Plan on using flight time to catch up on forgotten emails? Avoid the heartache of stepping onto an airplane only to discover it's WiFi-less by checking the online status of your plane in advance.
If you want to purchase a ticket based on which airline has WiFi onboard, then note it during your search. Travel websites like Hipmunk and Kayak include in their results details whether a flight is WiFi-enabled. When choosing a ticket solely on this feature, though, do realize that technical difficulties are always a possibility, and despite the promise of Internet, there may be an off chance that the wireless connection is down.
When you're just curious of whether your plane will have WiFi, turn to SeatGuru for a breakdown of every airline's fleet of planes and which have WiFi. Cross-reference that with the plane information in your travel confirmation details to know that, yes, your American Airlines flight on a Boeing 737-800 does have WiFi capabilities.
Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Jamielyn Nye about flying with kids.
A few weeks ago I flew with my two toddlers across the country all by myself. I was pretty nervous about the trip, but it ended up being OK because I was well prepared. Even though there were a couple tantrums and mishaps along the way, the kids actually had a good time. There were a few things that helped my kids and me endure the four-hour plane ride that may come in handy for you some day.
- Check in early so you get the best seats. The front row is the best because it has the most leg room.
- Plan to get to the airport two hours before you depart.
- Be prepared and remember to stay patient. If you're calm, your kids will be too.
- Buy new toys from the dollar store.
- Pack coloring books with crayons in Ziploc bags.
- Bring a variety of healthy snacks.
- Divide the books and snacks into small bags so you can pull them out at different times. You can even wrap the toys to make it more fun.
- Give your baby a bottle or pacifier for takeoff so their ears don't hurt. Starbursts work great for older kids.
- Bring a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.
- Pack Ziploc bags for messy diapers.
- Bring an extra pair of clothes just in case.
- Take along an iPad or Kindle with children’s books and/or shows with headphones.
- Bring melatonin if it's a really long flight to help the kids sleep.
- Buy a few packs of stickers to keep their hands busy for a little while.
- Dress up silly magnet faces.
- Pull lace through shapes, or string Cheerios on a necklace.
- Play with finger puppets.
- Count Teddy Grahams or gold fish.
- Bring flash cards with letters and numbers.
- Snuggle and sing songs.
These are just a few ideas of things I did to keep my kids happy during our four-hour flight. It really helped having several activities to break up the long plane ride. It also helped to get up every once in a while to walk down the isle. They thought it was fun saying hi to everyone. Hopefully, a few of these tips will help you on your next flight.
What tips do you have when flying with young children?
More great reads from BabyCenter:
Carrying her brother's babies — a surrogacy story
How to make your own chalkboard paint
When did you put your child in preschool?
Khloe Kardashian gets bad fertility news
Top picks to get siblings pumped for baby
Source: Flickr user Scott LaPierre
If you take a look around the next time you're on a plane, you'll notice at least one person that's on his gadget during takeoff.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration warns against leaving your gadgets on during a flight's takeoff and landing, the Wall Street Journal reveals 40 percent of people admitting to not turning off their phone completely during takeoff and landing. If electronic devices really interfere with radio signals, the WSJ says, then "navigation and communication would be disrupted every day on domestic flights. But we don't see that."
The FAA warning is apparently based on anecdotal evidence by pilots and flight attendants back in 1991 that said the devices disrupted a plane's communication and navigation equipment during takeoff and landing, and there isn't any strong scientific evidence to back up those claims.
What's your opinion — does turning off your gadget affect the plane?
It's so hard to figure out where to buy your ticket with so many mediums available. Business Insider shares it's the cheapest to book flights directly through the airline.
Online travel agents like Orbitz have become incredibly popular in recent years, offering travelers a way to compare airfare among multiple carriers.
But it's not necessarily the smartest way to go, says travel specialist Brett Snyder. You may end up paying a much higher price for your low-cost ticket.
Snyder offered us a few reasons why you should always book through a carrier:
Fees are hidden. Let's say you're about to buy a ticket and want to check the baggage fees for your flight. "If you go on Expedia and click on baggage info, it just opens up a huge, long list of airlines and what their fees are," says Snyder. "On some sites you don't even have that option." Not only is it time-consuming to wade through these lists, there's the risk of mistaking a fee and not having enough to pay. What's more, some sites don't let users tack on fees to their fare.
All airlines look equal (but aren't). Take Spirit Airlines, a carrier that's notorious for slapping fliers with fees. On a site like Kayak or Orbitz, Spirit's fare may seem like a bargain. But travelers may be in for a rude awakening when they go to check their bags at the airport. On metasearch sites, "people don't really know what's going to be different about flying Spirit, and that's frustrating," Snyder says.
No true price comparison. Consumers have a hard time seeing the "true price" of a fare not only for the reasons listed above, but due to the fact that there's no true apples to apples comparison between carriers. For example, Spirit may charge $227 for a flight while Jet Blue is charging $280. But that doesn't account for checked bag fees or anything else.
The better bet
The best way to book a fare online is through the airlines' site, says Snyder. Though online travel agents are great for seeing an airfare's price point, a carrier's site is the better place to view fees and customize fares with meals, seats, checked bags, and so forth. You'll also save yourself time—no sorting through lists—and might find a deal that's unique to the site.
— Jill Krasny
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We're always looking for cheap air tickets in order to reduce costs before we make the purchase, but did you know that you can save even more money after your buy? Believe it or not, you can actually get refunded the difference if you buy your ticket from airlines like JetBlue or Alaska Airlines. However, some airlines will charge an extra fee because they will consider it to be changing reservations. AirTran and Virgin for example, charges $75, and American and United charges $150. Savvy tip: make sure you do your homework on the fees incurred.
An easy way to keep track of the changing airline prices will be to use online price tracker Yapta.com that will do the work for you and send you refund alerts when your fare has gone down. Be sure to also check out Yapta's other cool feature, which keeps track of the flights that you're interested in buying and sends you alerts when the price drops for the weekend you wanted to jet away to New York. You can even keep track of hotel prices as well.
Have you ever been refunded the difference after the price of your plane ticket dropped?
Got a cost-saving travel tip? Join our Savvy Travel Tips group and share your expertise!
If you're planning a Summer trip this year and the high prices are getting you down, don't fret, there are a couple of travel bargains you can take advantage of. SavvySugar talked to travel expert, AirFare Watchdog's Founder George Hobica, for the scoop on the best airfare deals to find this Summer.
If you're jonesing to go to Europe but are holding back because of the inflated prices, Berlin would be an ideal getaway. The new Berlin airport (code BER) has been having a lot of great fares, according to Hobica. One reason being lower airport fees and taxes in addition to the airport being a brand-new one. Peak Summer round-trip fares from New York to Berlin are about $650 including taxes, a bargain compared with round trip prices for up to $1600 or $1800 for other European destinations. "Consumers should realize that even if Berlin isn't in their travel plans, easyJet flies between Berlin and, say, Paris for 64 euros round-trip including tax. So one could fly to Berlin, spend a couple of days exploring the city, and then head off to other European destinations cheaply," says the airfare expert.
If Berlin isn't for you, flights to Spain are generally cheaper compared to the other European countries, says the travel expert. That's partly due to the lower airport fees and taxes.
Scouring for deals before you make your purchase is always smart, but you can save even more if you go the extra mile and get some money back after you've booked. Here are some savvy tips to get you more savings after you've forked up cash:
- Air Travel: You can save more money on air tickets if the price of the flight goes down. Get refunded the difference when you buy your ticket from airlines like JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest. Some airlines will charge an extra fee because they will consider it to be changing reservations. AirTran and Virgin, for example, charge $75, while United charges $150. An easy way to keep track of the changing airline prices is to use online price tracker Yapta.com, which will do the work for you and send you refund alerts when your fare has gone down. Be sure to also check out Yapta's other cool feature that keeps track of the flights that you're interested in buying and sends you alerts when the price drops.
- Rental Car: Although Yapta tracks rental-car fares, there is an even better site that will do most of the work for you. It's called autoslash.com; it basically books the car for you, checks around for a cheaper price, then emails you when it finds a lower rate. If you want to go with the lower rate, it will rebook it for you.
- Hotels: Pick a hotel with a good refund policy or one that allows you to cancel without any penalties if you want to get your money back when you spot a lower rate on a hotel.Then use Yapta as a price-tracking system for hotels, which alerts you when the price of a hotel drops. If the rate does decrease, you can just cancel your reservation and make a new one. You can generally cancel your hotel booking if you don't pay up front for your reservation, but be sure to read the fine print because every hotel has different policy.
- Bonus: Alternatively, if you book through travel sites, you can get some sort of price guarantee for your flight, hotel room, and rental car. Keep in mind that every site has different requirements. For hotel stays, Orbitz will refund you the difference if you find the same room at the same hotel and dates at a cheaper price elsewhere. However, the claim has to be submitted before the hotel applies cancellation fees (which requires paying attention to hotel policies) and only works with rates that have the "Low Price Guarantee" or “Price Assurance.” Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline all have some sort of price guarantee with some differences, so don't assume that the same policy will apply to the other sites.