All you need to know about flying low-cost carriers as a family
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Editor’s note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips and we are not publishing new flight or hotel reviews. While bringing our readers unbiased, detailed reviews of travel experiences is one of our core missions, now is not the time. We all love to travel and know you do too. Hopefully, this will help you once we’re all ready to start booking trips again.
While some people in the points and miles community will pay more to avoid low-cost carriers, it can be a good choice for families and larger groups. The popular TPG U.K. guide comparing four of Europe’s low-cost carriers is an excellent resource for anyone planning to fly with a budget airline. This guide aims at adding additional information relevant to families, such as when tickets are released, cost and luggage allowance for lap infants and any family plans available.
When to book tickets as a family
With most tickets, prices fluctuate throughout the year due to sales, price matches demand and other forces. However, with tickets during school holidays (autumn and winter half-term, Christmas, Easter and summer holidays) the cost usually only goes one way after release date. Therefore, many families need to keep an eye on when tickets go on sale. All of the airlines suggest you sign up to their newsletter and monitor their social media and website in order to get the precise release dates.
Ryanair EasyJet Wizz Air Jet2 Seats released Releases summer tickets five to six months before departure. Releases tickets approximately quarterly. The critical release date for most families comes in mid-September when EasyJet releases tickets for the following year’s Easter and summer holidays. In 2019, EasyJet released tickets on 19 September for flights between 29 March and 3 August 2020. Wizz Air releases tickets in two lots. First, it releases to it paid Wizz Discount Club (with Group Membership at 79.99 euros (£73) a year and later for non-members. Members’ tickets historically have been available nine to 11 months before departure with non-members following a few months after. Jet2 releases its tickets 12 to 18 months before departure.
Related reading: Everything you need to know about flying with EasyJet as a family
Cost of lap infants
If you come across a low adult fare that is less than the cost of an infant ticket price, you can book your infant his or her own seat at the lower cost by calling the airline. Also, if you intend to use a car seat you will need to purchase a seat for your infant.
|Cost of lap infant (under 2 without own seat)||£25 flat rate per flight.||£25 flat rate per flight.||8 euros (£7.30) to 27 euros (£23) per one-way flight.||£20 flat rate per flight.|
Related reading: How the British Airways child seat saved my family more than £10,000
Onboard luggage allowance for lap infants
|Luggage allowance on board for lap infants (in addition to adults’ allowance)||Additional baby bag up to 5 kgs.
(17 inches x 14 inches x 8 inches)
Collapsible prams must be in a bag and count as part of the adult’s luggage allowance.
|Additional baby bag allowed for the infant.
(17 inches x 14 inches x 8 inches)
|Additional baby bag.
(16 inches x 12 inches x 8 inches)
|No additional baby bag allowed.
Collapsible pushchairs do not form part of the baggage allowance and may be carried free of charge.
|Family plans||Family Plus package (cost varies, but TPG U.K. calculations find that you can save 6%)
2 x 20 kgs check-in bags (per booking)
|The EasyJet £16 Hands Free family bundle allows up to six people on the same reservation to check their carry-on bag at the EasyJet Plus bag drop and bring their personal item onboard.||Wizz Discount Club Group Membership is 79.99 euros (£73) per year. Up to five people can save 10 euros (£9) on ticket fares and 5 euros (£4.50) on checked-in bags per flight.||Jet2 doesn’t have a family plan.|
Related reading: Is the Ryanair Family Plus upgrade worth it?
While child tickets come with the same hold luggage requirements as adult tickets, infant tickets and young children (cut off age varies per ground agent) get an additional amount of allowance for baby and toddler equipment.
|Baby and toddler checked luggage allowance.||Two items of baby equipment free of charge in the hold at check-in — one pushchair plus one of the following items: car seat or booster seat or travel cot.||Two of the following baby items allowed in hold for free at check-in: travel cot, pushchair, double pushchair, buggy, car seat, collapsible or non-collapsible pram, booster seat and/or baby back carrier.||A foldable baby stroller or a small foldable travel cot free of charge (will be loaded in aircraft hold) and must be brought to the aircraft door.||Car seat and collapsable pram (totalling 10 kgs combined) can be brought onboard but no additional checked luggage.|
Related: How to fly with a baby or toddler
Priority boarding for families
While you may be used to boarding first on British Airways or Virgin Atlantic with tiny tots in tow, early boarding for families with young children is not a given on low-cost carriers.
|Priority boarding for families||No need to purchase priority boarding. Gate agents (especially abroad) may allow you to board early, from my personal experience.||If travelling with a child under 5, priority boarding for the entire family.||Priority boarding with an infant: two adults, unlimited children per baby under age 2.||Does not appear to have a policy.|
As with all low-cost carriers, the devil is in the details, including baby and child policies. If you play by the rules, you can get excellent fares and maximise the allowances for your children.
Featured photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
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