Airlines hailing from Asia have taken the lead in a recent compilation of family-friendly airlines by The Family Vacation Guide, a travel website. In this list, eight out of the top 11 airlines are headquartered in Asia, out of a total of 34 airlines that were evaluated.
The ranking criteria were based on eight different factors, encompassing aspects such as seat comfort, complimentary seat selection, and pre-boarding accommodations for families, resulting in a maximum score of 18 points. Japan Airlines secured the top position on this list with a total score of 15 out of 18 points. It lost a point due to imposing extra charges for infants traveling on laps, commonly referred to as "lap fees."
Korean Air and Hainan Airlines from China tied for the second position, both earning 14 out of 18 points. Notably, neither of these airlines offers free seat selection, and both impose infant lap fees.
Singapore Airlines, which had previously been recognized as the top airline in the Skytrax World Airline Awards for the fifth consecutive year, tied with Qantas and China Southern Airlines for the fourth spot. This airline lost points in the rankings for seat comfort and infant lap fees.
All the airlines in the top 11 list offer kids' meals and free kids' entertainment, and they permit strollers to be checked for free. With the exception of Lufthansa, all of them provide on-board bassinets, and all except Hawaiian Airlines allow free checked baggage. However, it's worth noting that lap fees are common across all airlines except Hawaiian Airlines and Lufthansa. The Family Vacation Guide Rankings relied on publicly available information as of February 2023.
The prevalence of Asian airlines on this family-friendly list can be attributed to differences in business priorities, according to Praowpan Tansitpong, an assistant professor at Nida Business School. She explained that in the past two decades, Asian airlines have invested more heavily in enhancing passenger amenities compared to their Western counterparts, who have been more focused on revenue management. Tansitpong also pointed out that cultural distinctions may play a role, with Asian nations prioritizing family ties, mutual support, and respect for elders, in contrast to Western societies.
The Family Vacation Guide also conducted a family-friendly analysis for airports, taking into account factors like on-time departures, cancellation rates, availability of free unlimited Wi-Fi, and the variety of dining and recreational options. The top family-friendly airports were as follows:
- Mexico City Juarez International Airport — Mexico
- John F. Kennedy International Airport — U.S.
- O'Hare International Airport — U.S.
- Philadelphia International Airport — U.S.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — U.S.
- Frankfurt am Main International Airport — Germany
- Toronto Pearson International Airport — Canada
- Soekarno-Hatta International Airport — Indonesia
- El Dorado International Airport — Colombia
- Singapore Changi Airport — Singapore
10. Fukuoka Airport — Japan
Mexico City Juarez International and John F. Kennedy International Airport shared the top spot, both earning a score of 9.87 out of 10. In contrast, South Korea's Gimpo International Airport was deemed the least family-friendly on the list due to a lack of entertainment, dining options, and free Wi-Fi.
Notably, there were only two Asian airports in the top 11 family-friendly airports list. Singapore Changi Airport and Japan's Fukuoka Airport shared the 10th place, both receiving an overall score of 8.68 out of 10. Despite its recognition as the "world's best airport" at the Skytrax World Airport Awards, Changi Airport faced criticism for not offering free unlimited Wi-Fi.
Tansitpong suggested that the differences in performance between Asian airports and airlines on these lists could be attributed to distinct priorities and objectives in planning and execution. Airports typically focus more on aircraft and ground service safety rather than family-oriented services. However, she emphasized that the research may not fully reflect an airport's capacity to meet the needs of family travelers through facilities like play areas, family restrooms, and children's menus in restaurants.