Friday, May 24, 2013

How to survive flying with low-cost airlines and with children?

I have recently written a post about long-distance flights with children. Probably the less exciting part of the trip, although it is a nearly inescapable one. This brought an anecdote to my mind, a short story about flying single and low-cost with 2 underage children.
Low-cost flights in Europe are low-cost because everything except your flight ticket is extra. Food and beverage is extra. Luggage, extra. Insurance, extra. Check-in in person instead of online, extra. Smile and politeness, extra.
The oddest peculiarity of low-cost flights is that seats are free to choose. It’s like going to the cinema and picking the best seat location in the theater (except that there’s no movie on the flight). Your choice is to run for the best aircraft’s seat, or to pay extra for the privilege of being first to board the plane and select your favorite location.
While I was waiting at the gate with my little ones, watching fellow travelers trying to defeat others at the boarding game, strange thoughts crossed my mind. Really, I should pay as much as 15 Euro extra to board the plane with my kids? Does that mean that, if I don’t spend the money, I run the risk to find most seats occupied and no free adjoining seats in a row? In short, I will not seat next to my kids onboard?
The thought unleashed my darkest dreams. I am a loving and caring mother, but, frankly, deep, deep inside, I didn’t really wish to seat next to my kids. “If you would not pay extra”, whispered my inner demon, “you could read the last chapters of that amazing book you opened months ago. You could put your earphones on, close your eyes and enjoy relaxing music for the next 2 hours.” How tempting… “No”, shouted my conscience, “think about the flight attendants; think about other passengers. How can they deal with your offspring?”
How do low-cost airlines handle family crises? On that day, although I did not pay the extra fee, we sat on adjoining seats. Off-peak travel period, lots of empty seats. Finally, I might find the answer to that puzzling question on my next low-cost family trip.