Flying as a family can be a hectic, anxiety-producing experience. But the level of stress may vary based on the airline you choose.
A new report from The Points Guy (TPG) ranks the best and worst domestic airlines for families in 2019. According to TPG’s findings, JetBlue Airways is the most family-friendly airline, overtaking last year’s winner, Southwest Airlines. Allegiant Air took the last-place spot.
The Best Airlines for Families
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Allegiant Air
“Families have slightly different priorities when they travel compared to the average traveler,” TPG’s director of travel, Summer Hull, told HuffPost. Hull noted that these rankings differ from the website’s general best airlines rankings because the criteria is not the same. The report draws data from government statistics, published airline policies and procedures, TPG’s team research and other sources.
“We emphasized factors that are important to families ― how easy the airline makes it to get seats together in advance without having to pay extra, availability of built-in entertainment, kid-friendly snack and meal offerings and early boarding procedures, like ‘Do families get to board early?’” she said.
According to the report, JetBlue reigned supreme because of its seat options, free entertainment and Wi-Fi, snack basket and ability for families to pool miles together at no extra charge.
The airline ranked down at No. 7 out of 10 in the overall airline study, however. “Their on-time arrival stats aren’t great. They could do better there.” said Hull.
Southwest dropped to second place in part because it became harder to book travel far in advance, which many families prefer to do for their vacations.
This is the second year TPG has released family-friendly rankings. In addition to JetBlue’s ascent, Hawaiian and Alaska also rose, pushing Delta down to No. 5. The bottom five airlines remain unchanged.
Although the rankings can help families pick a carrier for their next trip, Hull believes the report serves other purposes by breaking down the family-friendly features of each airline.
“You don’t always have a choice of carrier. Sometimes price or route will make that choice for you,” she said. “I hope it helps families know what to expect for different airlines they’re not familiar with. And it can prepare them for some things the airline may make easier and help them figure out things they may have to prepare for on their own because the airline won’t be helpful.”
Hull also hopes the report can act as a wish list for airlines to see the ways they may make flying better for families. “For example, American Airlines lags when it comes to offering early boarding for families with young children, but it wouldn’t cost them that much to do what other airlines do and board families early in the process,” she said.
“I just hope our study is a chance for an airline to get some non-biased feedback,” she added. “Here are some actionable changes we’d love to see you make.”
Visit The Points Guy for more information about the methodology behind this report.