2013 – the year I was first dubbed a “Family Travel Expert” in the media. At the time, I blushed at the title, feeling undeserving of the accolades and self-conscious of my resume. Today, five years and 46 family trips later, I’m more than at peace with the designation.
There’s no doubt about it: we’re a family of travellers.
To be assured, family travel isn’t without its challenges. In addition to the obvious chores such as booking, planning, organizing, packing and managing the day-to-day responsibilities while away, vacationing with kids means that I’m also coordinating missed schoolwork, staying on top of in-flight entertainment, declining (several) requests to buy candy and accepting (several more) requests for snacks.
In short, my carry-on baggage are 8 and 10 years old – and don’t always stay where I’ve stowed them.
Therefore, when I can reduce some of the stress that inherently comes with travelling with children, I always choose the best available option. Today, I’m pleased to share information about Air Canada’s family-friendly services for travellers with children under the age of 12. They’re tailored to provide a simple, easy and enjoyable travel experience!
Here’s what you can expect.
1. Family Seating. Because families should stick together (and because no one wants to sit next to my 8-year old and hear him talk about Beyblades for five straight hours), Air Canada will ensure that you’re seated in proximity to your children at no extra charge.
When booking online, simply indicate that you are travelling with children, and Air Canada will assign generic seats close by for you and your young ones within 48 hours after your ticket is issued. You can then review your seat assignment by going to My Bookings.
I can attest that this system works well; in all the years I’ve travelled with Air Canada, I’ve never been separated from my children.
2. Family Check-In. Flying with kids under age six? Utilize the convenience of family check-in, available on all Air Canada flights (including mainline Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Express and codeshare flights) operated out of Montreal Trudeau, Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International.
3. Early Boarding. No need to rush the little ones; kids under age six and their family board early, before general boarding. This means extra time to store belongings and settle in.
(Just be sure to listen for the gate announcement! You’re travelling with wee ones. Trust me, you’ve earned this.)
4. Prioritizing Families. In the event of a schedule change or rebooking, Air Canada makes families a priority. Families are always offered food and hotel vouchers when needed, and when in doubt, please ask – policies can change depending on the destination.
5. Fun for Kids. Before you fly, be sure to enroll all children ages 2-12 in Altitude Skyriders! Your child will receive a Skyriders starter kit, which includes a friendly introduction letter, a sturdy luggage tag and a logbook to keep a record of each one of their travels. During the flight, they may also receive fun badges to commemorate their trip. Simply ask your flight attendant for a sticker once you are on board!
Both my boys are fans of flying and I couldn’t be more proud of the way they handle themselves in flight. On several occasions (too many to count!) they’ve been commended by a nearby adult for their exemplary behaviour. Of course, it’s the little things that add up; when the pre-boarding and check-in experiences are favourable, it sets the tone for a great flight.
If your child is travelling alone, here’s some peace of mind: for a fee of $100, unaccompanied minors are eligible for benefits that include special assistance check-in and private boarding. Plus, they are accompanied by an Air Canada agent at all times, from the moment they check in until they arrive at their destination, where they will be escorted to arrivals and meet the person picking them up.
(More perks: onboard, unaccompanied minors receive a complimentary Bistro item, headset, pillow, blanket, complimentary Rouge iPad rental and a Skyriders gift.)
We’ve travelled four times in 2018 and have four more family trips in the books for the year – and of course I’m going to travel with Air Canada. When family travel becomes family-friendly, it’s a win-win!
This post is sponsored by Air Canada. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.