Family holiday travel in the Middle East is unique due to Ramadan falling in the summer holidays. This year, the timing of Ramadan has created the effect of two ‘mini’ summer travel periods. What we are noticing is that a lot of families took trips abroad at the beginning of summer, returning back in time for Ramadan, and then will be taking a second family holiday in order to celebrate Eid.
The other trend we are seeing is that customers are booking early for peak travel periods. Travellers from the region are already looking ahead to upcoming holiday periods such as Christmas and are booking their flights well in advance.
While family holidays can be a magical time, which create long-lasting memories, the preparation, and the journey itself, can often be stressful for parents juggling multiple bags, passports and keeping everyone happy.
Even once you’re on-board the aircraft there’s the inevitable debate about who sits where, and the need to make sure that everyone is fed, watered and entertained often meaning that parents don’t get to relax.
At British Airways we are very aware that when travelling with children, you want to have as smooth and enjoyable journey as possible, so we have many family-friendly initiatives and policies in place. Children and infants have a generous free hand and checked-in baggage allowance, which comes in handy when you consider all of the extra equipment required for travelling with kids, from bottles to nappies to their favourite teddy bear. Furthermore, if passengers have a small folding pushchair, they will be able to take this right to the aircraft door at most airports.
You can also limit some of the stress of travelling with children by being proactive yourself. For example, do as much as you can before you arrive at the check-in desk. You can pre-empt some queuing and any arguments by choosing your seats online while booking.
When you’re booking connecting flights, to take some of the stress out of the airport experience, factor in an additional 30 minutes per child to the minimum connection time. It’s always a good idea to leave yourself some more time than you normally would when travelling with children. Rushing through airports is not conducive to a stress-free journey for anyone.
Also try to book the entire trip on one airline or its alliance partners as this makes life much easier if there are any delays or connection problems. If you need a baby seat or bassinet, book it when you make your reservation as these are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
When the flight starts boarding, take advantage of the priority boarding procedures for parents with children. This means you aren’t juggling the luggage and children while other passengers are trying to board and you have some time to get settled and relax. If you’re using a small folding pushchair you can take it right to the door of the aircraft at most airports.
On arrival, if you need help disembarking the aircraft, wait until the other passengers have left and the crew will assist you. This is where allowing more time for connections can really pay off. It’s also worth asking if there are any fast-track immigration options for families travelling with young children.
Paolo De Renzis is the area commercial manager – Middle East and Central Asia for British Airways.
Paolo De Renzis
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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