This year we’ve flown a lot: For business, for pleasure, alone and as a family. I’ve also noticed a change in our decision making around choosing flights.
In the olden days, pre-kids, I’d go with the cheapest operator, cheapest times, very little loyalty.
Now, especially when flying with the 3 kids, departure airports and flight times matter. These will be balanced against the cost. (Somewhere tucked away in my mind there is a mysterious formula for price versus convenience. It’s hidden very deep; there’s no way I could give you details of it, but if you present me with a scenario it’s implemented by my neurons.)
So we found ourselves flying to Sweden with British Airways:
- They fly out of Heathrow terminal 5– an airport that were has many easy ways to get to. For us from Oxford there is a regular coach service, or it is a 45-60 minute drive.
- Their timings were right- since we wanted a flight that would give us the chance to pick up the kids from school and drive straight to the airport missing the rush-hour traffic. This also gave us the most efficient use of the travel day and we’re started the trip with a full day at our destination.
- They serve food onboard- Not a big one to weigh in normally, but I knew getting from school to airport to plane would be tight, leaving little time to get food into 3 excited little madventurers. Once relaxed on the plane it’s nice not to have to worry about food or drink… And mum and dad can even enjoy a gin and tonic all inclusive.
- We had a big suitcase and could check that in, no extra cost. (BA have now gone and changed this! You have to pay for your hold luggage with them, just like with budget airlines).
- Price-wise our flight was about 15% more expensive than the alternatives. In this case, all the above weighed up, it was a premium with paying.
The flight lived up to our expectations and was worth paying the premium.
The check in process was smooth, maybe a tad slow. I expressed my frustration on twitter over having to queue for dropping off luggage despite checking online the day before. The British Airways social team apologised and explained it was due to more passengers than usual having difficulty with online check-in.
We’re getting good at transiting through the airport with relative ease with the kids. Terminal 5, the hub of British Airways, is a great airport to start a journey from. It’s well organised, with lots of outlets for food and other essentials one might have forgotten. (Forget shopping for anything else with 3 excited kids! :-D)
We enjoyed the service offered by British Airways staff onboard- they are experienced and courteous; are great ambassadors of British hospitality. They remind me of what the old Hungarian airline, Malév, staff used to be like; so much nicer than lots of other European airlines’ staff. (Don’t get me started on KLM or Air France! )
The food was good. Considering it was airline food. 😉
The flight was on time and we were ready to start a fabulous adventure in Sweden with a short walk and stay at Clarion hotel at Arlanda airport.
We only had one hitch: We were taking Max’s Kiddy car seat which is airline approved. There was lots of backwards and forwards about it.
Finally on the flight they told me it wasn’t legally allowed. The airline approval of the car seat was by the FAA (the US authority, who have different standards than this accepted by BA).
I got quite upset about the hypocrisy of the situation, as it just makes no sense. In the end one of the stewards took the car seat away and Max sat in his own seat.
The whole intention on this evening flight had been that Mac would fall asleep in the seat and we could carry him out in it. Plans changed.
The crux of the car seat saga is that Kiddy have the unique bar that replaces a 5 point harness, making it- what I believe- much safer for little ones in protecting them against whiplash in an accident. The airline want to strap the car seat down with their own belt and then rely on seat’s belt to hold child in.
Do you have a favourite airline to fly with? Why?
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have paid the full price for the flights myself and have editorial control, retaining full editorial integrity. I received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post from BA.com