Flying with children is expensive, isn’t it?
“It’s 10am and I am lying on my sun lounger on the balcony of my hotel room in Koh Samui, my husband is sitting in the lounge with our daughter, though the sound of my family laughing and playing should be all that is on my mind…unfortunately, its not.
Well, let me put this into a little perspective my family and I were sitting with a lovely couple last night in the resorts restaurant when the conversation turned to travelling with children, my new friends decided to let me know that because of the age of their child they received a rather large discount on their flight tickets, their child is only a month younger than mine! That saving would have easily paid for an upgrade to the private villa I had seen available but couldn’t quite afford with the added cost of the flights. Why did nobody ever tell me this before”
As a travel agent but more so as a parent with a child, I hate to hear of things that most travellers don’t know that could possibly save them a small fortune. Simple tips to make the ongoing struggle for decent priced travel available to everyone.
I have compiled these suggestions to hopefully make the booking process less stressful and much more cost effective for all the mums out there.
Some facts about flying with children
There are a few pieces of information that you should know before you start looking for flights and thinking about destinations. As a general rule of thumb an infant is any child that is under two years of age, At that age the child will travel on the parents lap (or in a bassinnete dependant on weight/lenght) and pay 10% of the fare. From ages 2 until 12 the child will occupy their own seat and the cost will be 75% of an adult fare. Aged over 12 and the child will pay full price for their seat.
Always check the small print before booking as some airlines may slightly vary from this.
Know when to fly
Like anything in life the higher the demand the higher the price, and flying is no different to this. If you are flying domestically then try to avoid key commuter times to get a cheaper price. Friday afternoons, Sunday nights and Monday morning are prime examples. During these times the flights are full and the prices at their highest, people are also impatient then as they rush home for the weekend, so not the best of times to keep the stress levels low. Instead, look for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons. You should see a reduction in the prices during these times.
There is no harm in signing up to the mailing lists of the domestic airlines as they will send you a mailshot every time they are about to put a sale on, Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin and Tiger are excellent ones to get started with. If you only sign up to one make sure it is Jetstar as they have a Friday Sale Frenzy between 16:00 and 20:00 where you can catch a lot of amazing discounts.
If you are flying internationally then peak times are the summer and Easter holidays, “but that is the only time we can go!” all us parents scream! If this is the case and it most likely is then there are still some options, book as early as you possibly can before the prices go up, also sit down with your travel agent and ask them to run a search on their system. Agents have access to searches that customers don’t and it will save you a lot of stress, time and most importantly money if they do it for you.
Book in advance
Flights are normally released about ten months in advance of the flight date, when the flights are released the economy section will have a range of different prices that are differentiated by a letter (called a booking class) there is nothing different between one seat and another except for the price, those in the know get in early and book as soon as they become available. Do not be one of the ones who pays hundreds of dollars more than the person next to them.
Insider tip: Have you ever been online, seen a flight, loved the price, phoned your mum, cooked your dinner, gone back to book and the price has shot up A lot of online sites place a cookie (yummmm cookies) on your PC as they know it is a place you have shown an interest in so they put the price up, clear your cookies search again and you may see the lower price again.
Price comparison all the way?
When the internet first came out you would search each individual airline for their prices, write them on your notepad go back to the cheapest one and book. Now that we have price comparison websites all our problems are over and booking takes about five minutes without any stress, right? Well, not exactly. Price comparison sites will give you some of the lowest prices that much is true, but nothing else is that straightforward unfortunately. The flights they sell are in 99% of cases non changeable and non-refundable! Another problem is that they will offer you flights where the connecting flight is so close in time to the flight you have just got off that the chances of you making it are not the best. Certainly not a situation you want to find yourself on with your children.
You are much better off making friends with a good local travel agent (now where have I met one of those…) A good agent will ensure that everything is done for you without any stress, sort out any problems that arise (without you having to pay the premium rate phone numbers so many airlines use while they make you wait on hold for hours) Then there is the special discounts, the flights at wholesale prices, the industry specials, whatever fancy name you want to use it all means the same, cheaper flights for you and your family.
Insider tip: When you are sitting with your travel agent and you’re looking at the screen with lots of prices on it these are the retail prices not the wholesale, always ask if a discount can be had when including accommodation (even just stopover accom). Because if you book your hotel with the same friendly agent at the time of your flight it is quite possible that a package deal can be had as well leading to further discounts. Sometimes with these wholesale rates we can get to experience the one thing every woman should get to try at least once in her life….BUSINESS CLASS!
Holidays are supposed to be about taking that time to relax with your loved ones, not worrying about whether you will make your departure gate on time or if feeling upset about the price you paid for your holiday. By following this advice you are already one step closer to the holiday you want at a discounted price.