NEW YORK — JetBlue Airways lands the top spot for No. 1 best airline for families in a new study by The Points Guy. Southwest Airlines was ranked No. 2. The worst-ranking airline for families is Allegiant Airlines.
“Many families, especially young families, have a lot of anxiety or even dread when it comes to flying,” says Summer Hull, Director of Travel for The Points Guy. “It can be hard to meet the needs of your kids while in a small tube flying miles above the sky without bringing the whole house with you, but while parents need to prepared for the flight, some airlines actually make the entire experience easier, from getting seats together to staying full and entertained throughout the flight.”
Airlines were evaluated on the factors that are most important to families traveling with children, including whether they offer complimentary seat assignments, on-time arrivals, early boarding procedures, seat comfort and size, available entertainment, kid meals and snacks, route network, mileage program rules, award availability, additional fees and services for unaccompanied minors.
The full rankings:
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Allegiant Air
JetBlue Airways leads the pack for offering large comfortable seats, built-in free entertainment, unlimited free snacks, free Wi-Fi, the ability for families to pool miles together at no charge and an easy-to-use frequent-flyer program.
Southwest Airlines moved down to the No. 2 position from last year partly because it was harder this year to book trips far in advance, a disadvantage for families looking to book family vacations ahead of time. However, Southwest Airlines continues to be a prime choice for families because it offers free bags, dedicated boarding times for families with children under the age of 6, an extensive route network and other family-friendly features.
Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines both outranked Delta Air Lines this year.
Though Allegiant Air does have a unique route network, it lacks kid-friendly snacks and meals, complimentary seat assignments, on-time arrivals and entertainment (unless you sign up for their cobranded credit card) — all factors that moved them down to the last position.
Hull adds: “We’d love for this report to not only be viewed as a guide for families looking to choose which airline to book on their next vacation, but also for airlines to see how they could improve the experience for those who fly with kids. That’s why we list not only strengths and some areas of improvement but also a wish list of changes — some that carry with them very little cost.”
Information was sourced mostly from the official federal databases, the airlines themselves, and painstaking award-ticket checks on each airline throughout the year, which our researchers then ran through the latest TPG points valuations. Most factors were weighted similarly, except seat assignment, which counted twice as much as the others, and unaccompanied-minor rules, which counted less.
Ranking categories included:
- Complimentary seat assignments: Are complimentary advance seat assignments readily available?
- On-time arrivals: Percentage of arrivals and departures that were not more than 15 minutes late.
- Early boarding procedures: How early can families with small children board?
- Seat comfort and size: What size are basic economy seats across the mainline ?eet, and would a car seat realistically ?t in those dimensions?
- Available entertainment: Does the airline offer complimentary or purchasable seatback entertainment, Wi-Fi or streaming?
- Kid meals and snacks: Are there complimentary snacks kids generally enjoy, or child-friendly snack boxes for sale?
- Route network: Cities and routes served in the U.S.
- Mileage program rules: Can families pause elite status, do airline miles expire, and how easy is it to share or pool points?
- Award availability: Are awards available for booking at set advance-booking periods, and for how many miles across a shared set of routes?
- Additional fees: How much airlines did charge on average for bags and ?ight changes?
- Customer satisfaction: How many complaints against the airline did passengers file in a year?
- Unaccompanied minors: Does the airline serve unaccompanied minors, and what are the fees for that service?