Does Pre-boarding for Families Matter?

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MissyJ's picture
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Does Pre-boarding for Families Matter?

Airlines Take Away Pre-Boarding Privileges for Families with Children

Currently this appears to be limited as most airlines are continuing the practice of allowing families with small children to board early. Still, it is likely that they could be waiting to see what sort of backlash there is with consumers (if any.)

Is this something that matters to you? Would it impact how you feel about a particular airline? What about paying more to board early? Yay or nay?

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I never take advantage of preboarding for families. Why on earth would I want to sit an extra 30 min. with my small children in a cooped up airplane? I always board last when I travel with my kids.

Preboarding is probably something that makes it easier for everyone else BUT the families.

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The one time I was extremely grateful for preboarding was when I was travelling alone with a 10-week-old. I needed to show the baggage guy how to fold down the stroller and the flight attendants were so great - offering to hold DD while I got the Baby Bjorn off and got her stuff I'd need for the flight - burp cloth, blanket, etc. It was so nice that I didn't have some stuffy businessmen or childless couples behind me, huffing and puffing because I was making them wait.

Things are much different now. I wouldn't see the need to preboard with a 5 and 3 y.o. Travelling alone with an infant or a few children can be a challenge and the extra time is nice.

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If a family has small children with car seats to strap in, it is beneficial to board them first. It's difficult to maneuver bulky car seats and children through tight spaces.

We once took two car seats on board because one child was light weight and getting him to sit in his seat buckled safely was difficult, but he loved his car seat and the other child was a baby. We felt it was much safer to put them in their car seats on board. The baby would sleep well if in the car seat.

But we were among the last to board and carrying the car seats and children down the aisle was was very, very hard. We kept apologizing and felt awful. Everyone was staring us down. They didn't book us together due to needing window seats for the car seats, so there was a man who had to get up out of his seat so we could get the car seat strapped in by the window. That took extra time, others had to pass by. I feel like if we had boarded first and got settled there would have been less bumping and inconvenience to others.

However, the flight was dreamy for us because our children behave well in their car seats whereas they are jumping, kicking the seats, standing on the seats, looking back, forward etc. So the car seats were very helpful, but difficult to get strapped in if doing a mid to late boarding time.

Without car seats, I don't see any special needs and all should be manageable.

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It was definitely helpful when I was flying with a 6 year old this winter. With coats and such it was just easier getting him settled without bumping into people etc.

I have flown while still recovering from a broken knee. I DEFINITELY needed extra time that time! They took me onto the plane in a wheelchair and then I hopped to my seat. When I arrived at my location it was pretty funny, the flight attendant took my crutches and left the plane - 2 minutes later he came back and said "I guess you need these don't you".

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We usually preboard, although we haven't flown since this time last year. With a toddler who is tired of running around the airport it was a blessing to be able to contain her on the plane. It was also nice to have the extra time to settle in. This time (in 2 weeks) though she is older and better behaved. She might last longer in the airport and we wont need to preboard. We shall see.

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I'm kind of an anomaly, since we have so many kids, but we love the pre-board. Mostly bc we have a carseat to strap in and that takes time/energy (often I'll send dh ahead of our group, let him strap in the seat, and then we'll follow a few minutes later.)

I fly a lot for work, and would prefer people pre-board with their kids so that they can get settled into their seats and not block the aisles for everyone else. There just isn't much room on an airplane and it is easier if kids and parents get out of the way.

That said, I wish that babies were required to have their own seats-- I just think it is safer for everyone. If they were required to have their own seats, I think preboarding would make even more sense to get the car seats buckled in.

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I haven't flown with kids, yet, but I would think I might prefer the pre-boarding. Getting on the plane before everyone else and settled in would be easier than having to lug everything thru crowded aisles.

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I preboard with 2 (and I did with one). Depending on if I need to put a carry on or coats in the overhead bin, I like it being right at our seat instead of where there is space. I like walking down the aisle at our own speed and not being crowded. I also like to get everything I think we will reasonable need out before I sit down. I prefer to do that before everyone is on. I have gotten on in the middle or at the very end due to poor connections, visa issues and potty breaks but I find it more stressful. I wouldn't pay extra for the option though.

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I only fly Southwest, and I've only flown with my kids once. Southwest doesn't assign seats, you get a code in the order of when you check in so the "A" group boards first, then the "B" group, and so on. If you have small kids and you don't get an "A" code, then they will let you board after the "A" group. We were in the "A" group but all the business people had taken the aisle seats so even though there was plenty of room, I had to maneuver the car seat past a couple dozens sets of knees. It would be a lot easier if they let a parent with car seats go on first and go straight to the back so they are out of the way to buckle the seat in while the others start boarding. And they should also start enforcing the carry-on rules so that you don't have people trying to stow an overnight bag, a computer, a briefcase, and then sitting down before remembering to take off their jacket so they stand back up & try to fit that in somewhere. :roll:

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"Spacers" wrote:

I only fly Southwest, and I've only flown with my kids once. Southwest doesn't assign seats, you get a code in the order of when you check in so the "A" group boards first, then the "B" group, and so on. If you have small kids and you don't get an "A" code, then they will let you board after the "A" group. We were in the "A" group but all the business people had taken the aisle seats so even though there was plenty of room, I had to maneuver the car seat past a couple dozens sets of knees. It would be a lot easier if they let a parent with car seats go on first and go straight to the back so they are out of the way to buckle the seat in while the others start boarding. And they should also start enforcing the carry-on rules so that you don't have people trying to stow an overnight bag, a computer, a briefcase, and then sitting down before remembering to take off their jacket so they stand back up & try to fit that in somewhere. :roll:

Same up here, kind of. WestJet specifically assigns seats at check-in to keep families with children basically together in the same area of the plane and typically over the wings (I guess in case of emergency).

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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Same up here, kind of. WestJet specifically assigns seats at check-in to keep families with children basically together in the same area of the plane and typically over the wings (I guess in case of emergency).

There's an emergency exit at the back, too. And I'd rather be at the back near the toilet. Our flight was only an hour and between the two kids I made three trips. I had Weston in a pullup JIC but I figured since he said he had to go, I should take him. That would have been a nightmare if we'd been seated in the middle of the airplane!

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"Spacers" wrote:

There's an emergency exit at the back, too. And I'd rather be at the back near the toilet. Our flight was only an hour and between the two kids I made three trips. I had Weston in a pullup JIC but I figured since he said he had to go, I should take him. That would have been a nightmare if we'd been seated in the middle of the airplane!

Just do what I do (well, DID a couple years ago on an xmas flight delayed 6 hours b/c of blizzards).....Take some kids' Gravol along Wink
I'm weird about sitting in the tail now. I re-watched Alive a few years ago and decided that the tail might not be the safest place. I like the wing, just in case we land on the Hudson...and Sully's at the wheel. Of course, then there that issue with all the fuel right under your seats.

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I have flown a few times when DD1 was a baby. I appreciated the extra time with pre boarding. There is so much involved when traveling alone with a baby. It was not so bad the times DH was with me but when we went alone it was a lot more stressful. With an older child I do not think you would need any extra time.

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I think it's very helpful to those who have small kids, strollers, car seats, etc. It helps everyone because often families with kids & accompanying equipment take a while to get everything stowed and it makes sense to get them in and settled first. It's a smart policy, and it leaves it up to each individual family as to whether or not it is helpful to them and worth taking advantage of.

My kids are older now so it's better to let them have as much freedom of movement as possible before boarding, but when they were smaller and we had a car seat with us, it was very helpful!

It's a nice courtesy and they should keep it up. I think it benefits everyone, with or without children.

(Hi everyone. Long time no see.)

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When we had three kids with car seats boarding, early boarding was almost a necessity. We traveled with three kids under 4, and we bought seats for everybody. The first leg of the trip, they let us board about 20 minutes early. It took nearly the entire time for us to get all the seats installed and the kids buckled in. The second leg, they did not allow us to pre-board. We waited until the end to get on the plane, but then there was absolutely no space for our carry on, so half of it had to be checked at the gate. Then the folks who were sitting had to get out and let us install the car seats. The flight attendant kept coming over telling us to hurry, hurry, because we were taking too long to get settled. It was really unpleasant, hot, sweaty, and nerve wracking knowing we were making an entire plane wait.

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"Strange_Cat" wrote:

When we had three kids with car seats boarding, early boarding was almost a necessity. We traveled with three kids under 4, and we bought seats for everybody. The first leg of the trip, they let us board about 20 minutes early. It took nearly the entire time for us to get all the seats installed and the kids buckled in. The second leg, they did not allow us to pre-board. We waited until the end to get on the plane, but then there was absolutely no space for our carry on, so half of it had to be checked at the gate. Then the folks who were sitting had to get out and let us install the car seats. The flight attendant kept coming over telling us to hurry, hurry, because we were taking too long to get settled. It was really unpleasant, hot, sweaty, and nerve wracking knowing we were making an entire plane wait.

See, that's the thing. It helps EVERYBODY to let families and people who need assistance on first. If someone is in a wheelchair or needs a cane or something, let them go first and not have to deal with everyone else pushing their way past or standing there impatiently. I don't really see the value in discontinuing it, as it benefits everyone.

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I think the "value" in discontinuing the practice, is that they're probably going to start charging for it. They figure if you want to preboard badly enough, you'll open your wallet for the privilege.

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The only time we preboard is when the kids are little and need to be strapped in carseats. I have flown a few times with DS by myself when he had surgery and it was definately nice to be able to get him totally settled before a bunch of people needed to get by.

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"Spacers" wrote:

I think the "value" in discontinuing the practice, is that they're probably going to start charging for it. They figure if you want to preboard badly enough, you'll open your wallet for the privilege.

Good point. Like the luggage charges, which infuriate me. I don't mind paying for food on flights, I've found that the quality of food has increased tremendously as a result. But checking luggage? Now we have planes full of people trying to squeeze their luggage into overhead compartments when it doesn't really fit...drives me nuts.

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"JorgieGirl" wrote:

I never take advantage of preboarding for families. Why on earth would I want to sit an extra 30 min. with my small children in a cooped up airplane? I always board last when I travel with my kids.

Preboarding is probably something that makes it easier for everyone else BUT the families.

I'm with you on this one!!! We have only flown once with the girls and we waited until the last minute to board. We had NOtrouble getting in and setteled with most everyone else already on the plane.